11/02/2009 12:00AM

Stakes winners look to closing day


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As good as Sunday's Grade 3 Iroquois and Pocahontas stakes at Churchill Downs were, those races might prove to be mere tastes of what is to come on closing day of the fall meet, Nov. 28.

A number of the top performers from the two races are expected to return in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club for juvenile males and the Grade 2 Golden Rod for juvenile fillies, including the winners of the Iroquois and Pocahontas - Thiskyhasnolimit and Sassy Image - their trainers said Sunday.

Both the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club are contested at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Thiskyhasnolimit "looks to appreciate the added distance," trainer Steve Asmussen said.

In addition to horses that started at the Churchill Downs meet, The Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club can sometimes draw horses that raced in the Breeders' Cup, such as last year when Dream Empress, who ran second in the Juvenile Fillies, returned in the Golden Rod, finishing fourth behind Rachel Alexandra.

Moderate times from Thiskyhasnolimit (a mile in 1:37.36) and Sassy Image (the same distance in 1:38.63) resulted in relatively low Beyer Speed Figures for the two winning stakes horses, with the former receiving an 81 and the latter a 74.

Dryfly - a 2-year-old Jump Start gelding, was the fastest winner, in terms of Beyers, on Sunday's Stars of Tomorrow card, which was made up entirely of races for 2-year-olds. Dryfly posted an 89 Beyer for taking a first-level allowance, race 9, by running seven furlongs in 1:23.55.

Dryfly is not being pointed toward the Kentucky Jockey Club, trainer Lynn Whiting said Monday.

"We plan to use the Smarty Jones on Jan. 18 at Oaklawn as the next step for him and go through that series with him there," Whiting said.

Dryfly is owned by Oaklawn Park president Charles Cella.

Albarado starts the meet strong

Jockey Robby Albarado - coming off his fourth Keeneland riding title - picked up at Churchill where he left off at Keeneland by winning four races Sunday, including the Pocahontas on Sassy Image. Other winners for Albarado included Cover Photo in the opener, Aqualane Shores in race 4, and Romans Reward in race 6.

"This is just the way that I wanted to start my meet," he said after winning the Pocahontas. "I wanted to get off to a hot start and try and keep it going."

Albarado, who topped the 2008 spring standings at Churchill, is seeking is first fall riding title at the track. He was the second-leading rider at Churchill last fall behind Julien Leparoux.

Derby Musuem to reopen in April

Monday morning, mere hours after construction crews began dismantling flood-damaged exhibits at the Kentucky Derby Museum, museum officials announced a reopening date of April 18. The museum has been closed since Aug. 4, when severe flash flooding in parts of Louisville, particularly in the area around Churchill Downs, resulted in widespread water damage to museum exhibits, artifacts, and to the facility itself.

In preparing for its reopening, the museum plans a $5.5 million renovation project that will update and incorporate new exhibits.

"We have decided to turn adversity into opportunity," Kentucky Derby Museum director Lynn Ashton said.

Ashton said the museum received $1 million in flood insurance money, and that the project would be financed in great part with grants and donations.

The museum began compiling one new exhibit Monday morning entitled "It's My Derby," a community collaborative in which people discuss on camera their favorite and most unique Derby experiences. The museum plans to create a video presentation, looping the collection of stories.

Denis of Cork back in training

Denis of Cork, the third-place finisher from the 2008 Kentucky Derby, has resumed training as he prepares to return to racing for the first time since a runner-up finish in the 2008 Belmont Stakes.

Trainer David Carroll said Denis of Cork returned to his barn about a month and a half ago and has been galloping for approximately two weeks after jogging for a month.

"We are delighted to have him back," he said.

Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr., Denis of Cork was sidelined in summer 2008 with a hairline fracture in his left hind ankle. Turned out at a farm in Ocala, Fla., Denis of Cork then injured his right front suspensory.

"It took us that long to get him back," Carroll said. "We are just taking it day to day, and I can't even tell you when he'll breeze. We are just trying to put a foundation back in him."

Carroll will take Denis of Cork with the rest of his stable to Fair Grounds in New Orleans for the winter.

* Entries will be taken Tuesday for Friday's Grade 3, one-mile Ack Ack Handicap on a day of racing that includes simulcasts of the first day of Breeders' Cup races from Santa Anita. Jonesboro, Greeley's Conquest, Riley Tucker, Que Paso, and Spotsgone are considered probable starters.