11/10/2008 12:00AM

Significant others saddle boxcar exacta


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - No, Chip Brownfield didn't have to walk all the way back to northern Kentucky after what happened Friday at Churchill Downs. But you couldn't blame his longtime girlfriend, Jamie Grubbs, for being a little upset with him.

Brownfield and Grubbs, both trainers with medium-sized stables at Turfway Park, ran horses Friday in the fifth race, a $5,000 claiming race for fillies and mares at a mile. From the start, Out Cold, with Brandon Meier riding for Grubbs, held a huge lead, and past the quarter pole her official margin on the lead was eight lengths.

But then Out Cold, a 9-2 shot, started getting tired, and suddenly one horse surfaced in deep stretch to pose a threat. It was Hilly M., a 49-1 shot trained by Brownfield.

Sure enough, Hilly M. surged past the leader, and won by 1 3/4 lengths, returning $101.60 to win. Out Cold was a clear second to complete a $2 exacta worth $977.60.

"It was pretty good for me," said Brownfield, "although I don't know how much Jamie liked it."

Brownfield, 40, and Grubbs, 41, have dated for about five years.

"When we have horses in against each other, we ride down together, but we don't watch the race together," said Brownfield. "But we are happy when each other's horses win."

Brownfield said that neither he nor Grubbs had the exacta, and that "the only person I know of that hit the exacta was my dad," Butch Brownfield. "He might have been happier than anybody."

On Sunday at Churchill, the couple was scheduled to race horses against each other again. Normandy Queen, trained by Brownfield, started as a 20-1 shot, but Crashing Sandstorm, trained by Grubbs, was scratched.

"I'm sure she didn't scratch because she was scared of me," Brownfield said with a laugh, "because my filly ran last."

Purse cuts may affect Clark field

The purse cuts announced late Friday by Churchill management may have already had an adverse effect on the annual fall-meet highlight, the Grade 2 Clark Handicap. Trainer Rick Dutrow said Monday that cutting the Clark purse from $500,000 to $400,000 is one factor in his reconsidering Arson Squad for the Cigar Mile at his home track, Aqueduct, instead of the Clark on Nov. 28.

Effective Wednesday, Churchill cut overnight purses 10 percent while also lowering the Clark by $100,000 and the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap by $50,000, to $150,000. The track cited its reasons as being soft business levels stemming from a struggling general economy and unresolved negotiations with horsemen over distribution of the Churchill simulcast signal to most account-wagering outlets.

Meanwhile, the probable Clark favorite, Commentator, was scheduled to arrive here Wednesday from New York for trainer Nick Zito.

Another Clark prospect, Einstein, had his second breeze since returning from a minor injury when covering a half-mile Sunday in 49.40 seconds at Churchill.

Nominations for the Clark and the other three graded stakes on the final three-day stretch of the fall meet close Saturday. Those other races are the Falls City on Thanksgiving, Nov.o27, and the twin 2-year-old stakes, the Kentucky Jockey Club and Golden Rod, on closing day, Nov.o29.

Records in sight

If they keep winning at the rate they're going, the familiar team of owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, trainer Mike Maker, and jockey Julien Leparoux will set records in their respective categories for most wins at a Churchill fall meet.

Through Sunday, the Ramseys already had run 11 winners. The record is 15, set by T. Allie Grissom in 1965. Maker had run 14 winners, well within reach of the record 20 winners sent out five years ago by Dale Romans. Leparoux probably has the toughest task: with 24 wins, he has Pat Day's record of 55, set in 1985, as a target.

Helping all their causes is the fact that the fall meet, at 26 days, is longer than in most years. In years when Labor Day falls on the first or second day of September, the meet runs five weeks instead of four.

* When Golden Sensation and Antrim County won races here Sunday, the winner's circles got crowded. Both are owned by syndicates that involve dozens of owners. Golden Sensation is owned by Family Fun LLC, Fast N Easy LLC, and R R Racing LLC, while Antrim County is owned by Boys Haven Equine. About 100 people were in the winner's circle for each of the two wins.