07/02/2009 11:00PM

Stalking trip suits Tizdejavu in Firecracker


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Thorn Song won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in his last start. Mr. Sidney won the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile in April. Tizdejavu is 3 for 3 on the Churchill Downs turf course, including two graded stakes.

But these highly accomplished turf horses aren't the only ones who will be led into the starting gate Saturday for a sensational 19th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill.

The eight-horse Firecracker lineup also includes Inca King, whose 3-for-5 record over the local course includes two stakes wins; Seaspeak, a rapidly progressing 4-year-old coming off a romp in the Grade 3 Dallas Turf Cup; and a pair of veterans entering with strings of triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures on their past performances in Passager (three races) and Wise River (two).

"My horse has a lot of credibility," said Greg Fox, who trains Tizdejavu for the colt's breeders, Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth. "But this is a really, really good race. It might be one of the most interesting and evenly matched Firecrackers they've ever had."

Tizdejavu, with Jon Court to ride, stands as good a chance as any. A speedy type who showed a willingness to rate when needed in a recent comeback victory, he figures to secure a prime stalking position behind Thorn Song, the defending Firecracker champion and the 123-pound highweight.

Dale Romans, trainer of Thorn Song, called the 6-year-old gray "a naturally fast horse" and said he isn't overly concerned with race tactics. Romans said he assumes jockey Mike Smith will send Thorn Song to the lead in the one-mile race and let the chips fall where they may, regardless of who chooses to apply pressure.

"There was a ton of speed in the Shoemaker Mile, too," Romans said.

Kent Desormeaux, who rode Thorn Song to upset Einstein last year in the Firecracker, has the mount this time on Mr. Sidney, whose rallying score in the Maker's Mark Mile has been tempered somewhat by a poor subsequent effort in the Met Mile on the Belmont Park main track.

The Firecracker goes as the 10th of 11 races on the second-to-last card of the Churchill spring meet. The Grade 3 Locust Grove helps to close the meet Sunday. First post both days is 12:45 p.m. Eastern.