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Updated on 09/15/2011 1:53PM
Saturday Stakes roundup
Sellers may be on right one in Momentous
ALTOONA, Iowa - One of the six 3-year-old fillies in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks will score her first stakes victory here Saturday night, but the focus of attention will be on jockey Shane Sellers's return to competition following an eight-month absence caused by a serious knee injury.
Sellers, who was the nation's third-leading rider in earnings last year, had reconstructive surgery on his left knee after being thrown and kicked by his mount following the post parade of a race on Dec. 9 at Fair Grounds. During his down time, Sellers recorded a country music CD, which included a single that made it onto the national charts.
Sellers's Oaks mount is the Gainsborough Farm-owned Momentous, who may go favored. Momentous, a daughter of Summer Squall, recorded two straight front-running allowance wins at Churchill Downs going the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Oaks. In her most recent start, Momentous tired to finish last in the one-mile Winning Colors at Arlington Park, her first stakes try. Henry Cochran trains Momentous, who has won 3 of her 11 starts and earned more than $97,000.
Although Supreme Song has won only one of her 13 starts, she is not without a chance in the Oaks. She returns from Arlington Park, where she finished sixth after racing on the pace for the first six furlongs in the Grade 3 Singapore Plate, which was won by Caressing.
In her previous start, Supreme Song finished second here in the $150,000 Iowa Oaks, beaten 8 1/4 lengths by Unbridled Elaine, who went on to win the Monmouth Oaks. Supreme Song also finished second in the $50,000 Panthers here earlier in the meet. Trainer Bill Hazen Jr. has given the mount to rider Perry Compton.
- Dave Basler
Ellis Park: Fajardo still improving
Very early in his 3-year-old season, Fajardo was considered a fringe candidate for the 2000 Triple Crown.
But after Fajardo was trounced in a second-level allowance at Gulftream, trainer Bill Mott quashed all talk about the Kentucky Derby, opting for a less ambitious agenda.
It took a while, but Fajardo, a 4-year-old gray by Runaway Groom, seems to be coming into his own. Based at Churchill Downs with Mott's longtime assistant Ralph Nicks, Fajardo will go for his third straight victory Saturday when he carries co-top weight of 116 pounds in a well-matched field in the $75,000 Governor's Handi-cap at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.
Veteran jockey Joe Johnson will be back aboard Fajardo after having guided the colt to his last two wins. Eight challengers, led by Winning Connection (116) and Da Devil (115), also are entered in the one-mile Governor's.
Da Devil, winner of the Kentucky Cup Classic two years ago, will be trying to rebound off a lackluster performance. He has earned more than $800,000.
Jadada is another solid possibility. Winner of the Fayette Stakes last fall, the 6-year-old has been shut out in his last six races when trying such demanding spots as the Clark Handicap, Hawthorne Gold Cup, and Stephen Foster Handicap.
Among the handful of outside contenders are two 4-year-olds entered off sharp recent victories: Dash for Daylight, winner of the Don Bernhardt Handicap, and Twilight Road, winner of an allowance earlier this month at Arlington.
Storm Day, U.S. Jets, and Tiltam round out the cast.
The Governor's is the ninth of 10 races on a Saturday card that begins at 12:40 p.m. Closing day of the 41-day Ellis meet is Labor Day, Sept. 3.
- Marty McGee
Calder: Castlebrook gets better post
MIAMI - A favorable post position could help Castlebrook regain her place atop the local filly and mare handicap division when she takes on six rivals, including 3-year-old Valid Forbes, in Saturday's $50,000 Nancy's Glitter Stakes at Calder.
The Nancy's Glitter, named for the only filly to sweep all three legs of Calder's Florida Stallion Series, is restricted to registered Florida-breds and will be decided at 1 1/16 miles.
The race highlights an outstanding 12-race program that offers in excess of $300,000 in purse money.
Castlebrook moved to the head of her division with victories in the Miss Jealski and Mia's Hope handicaps earlier in the meet. But a wide trip from the outside post resulted in Castlebrook finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Liberada Handicap on Aug. 5, which cloudied the picture in the filly and mare ranks.
Castlebrook drew post 1 for the Nancy's Glitter, and from there she figures to get a perfect trip stalking the likely pace of Racing for Pahm. Racing for Pahm sprinted right to the front from the rail and led throughout to easily defeat Castlebrook and capture the Liberada while making her first start since being privately purchased by trainer Dan Hurtak.
Valid Forbes takes on older horses for just the second time in her career and first going a distance of ground. A daughter of Valid Appeal, Valid Forbes returned from a six-month layoff and finished second behind the talented older sprinter Precious Feather in the six-furlong Born Famous Handicap in mid-June. Most recently she dominated fellow 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles in the Designated Dancer Stakes.
Coolbythepool continues to improve for trainer Marty Wolfson, having finished second in the Mia's Hope and Liberada handicaps. But like Castlebrook in the Liberada, she took the worst of the post position draw and will start from the outside in the Nancy's Glitter.
Castlebrook, Valid Forbes, Racing for Pahm, and Cash's Pride will share high weight of 116 pounds in the Nancy's Glitter. Rosemary Homeister Jr. will again be aboard Castlebrook, Cornelio Velasquez takes his regular seat on Racing for Pahm, and Julio Garcia reunites with Valid Forbes, aboard whom he won two legs of the Florida Stallion Series last summer.
The remainder of the field for the Nancy's Glitter includes Tour Hostess and Queen of Oz.
- Mike Welsch
Louisiana Downs: A River Cities prep
Nanie's Dinner returns to the Louisiana Downs turf course, over which she is 3 for 4, in Saturday's $50,000 Sangue Handicap. The 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares has also drawn stakes winners Euryanthe and Taffy, and serves as the local prep for the $150,000 River Cities Breeders' Cup on Sept. 15.
Nanie's Dinner has won three stakes in four starts on the local grass, her most recent turf win a six-length romp in the $40,000 Honeymoon on July 14. She comes into the Sangue on the heels of a second-place finish to Taffy in the $40,000 Delicada, run over dirt Aug. 5.
"We're happy to get her back on the grass," said trainer Larry Robideaux. "She pushes a lot when she runs, and gets firmer footing on the turf than the dirt, which makes her stride smoother. The turf is easier on her."
High weighted at 119 pounds, Nanie's Dinner will be ridden by leading jockey Kirk LeBlanc.
David Guillory has the mount on Taffy, who has won three of her last five starts and is trained by leading trainer Cole Norman. In her most recent start she closed to win the Delicada by three lengths, and before that she finished second in the Honeymoon.
Curt Bourque rides Euryanthe, who used her sweeping kick to win back-to-back stakes this spring for trainer Steve Asmussen. Hampered by yielding courses in her last two starts, she could return to her best form Sunday if the turf is firm.
- Mary Rampellini