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Street Sense prepares for Jim Dandy
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After having more than three weeks between workouts, Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense began gearing back up again when working a half-mile Sunday morning in 49.40 seconds over a muddy track at his home base, Churchill Downs.
Calvin Borel, the colt's regular rider, was aboard Street Sense for the work, which was his first since May 30. Trainer Carl Nafzger called the Sunday work "perfect."
"Yeah, he went really good," Nafzger said. "He was relaxed and everything. Right on schedule."
Street Sense last raced May 19 when narrowly beaten in the Preakness at Pimlico. He had his last breeze May 30 at Churchill when breezing a half-mile. The next day, Nafzger announced that the colt would bypass the Juneo9 Belmont Stakes in favor of the Jim Dandy Stakes, a July 29 race to be used as a prep for the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes. Both races are at Saratoga.
Nafzger and his longtime assistant and training partner, Ian Wilkes, plan to take about 12 horses, including Street Sense, to Saratoga shortly after the Churchill spring meet ends July 8.
Meanwhile, Street Sense's rival in the Triple Crown series, Curlin, will have his next workout on July 2, trainer Steve Asmussen said. Curlin is being pointed to the Aug. 5 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
Asmussen nearing Churchill record
Asmussen continues to have a sensational Churchill meet. He won three more races Sunday, which gives him 37 for the meet and has him just six wins from tying the Churchill spring-meet record. The record of 43 wins was set last spring by Dale Romans.
With 42 of 52 programs complete, Asmussen was informed that he has 10 racing days to take aim on the record.
"Nine," he said with his typical dry humor. "We don't have a single horse in Wednesday. Can you believe that?"
To threaten the record, he added, "we need a couple more days like Sunday," when he won the third race with Golden Hare ($2.80), the sixth with Possible ($6.80), and the 11th with Unbridled Trust ($4.20). For Golden Hare, a one-length victory in a starter-allowance sprint extended a remarkable streak: The 8-year-old gelding now has won 11 of his last 12 starts.
Among Asmussen's other recent winners was Subtle Aly, a first-time starter who set a track record for 4 1/2 furlongs in the second race Saturday when she won by five lengths and finished in 50.48 seconds. Subtle Aly, a mere $3,000 yearling purchase by French Envoy, broke the record of 50.73 set two years ago by He's Got Grit, trained at the time by Asmussen.
Borel headed to Saratoga meet
Calvin Borel plans to ride regularly at Saratoga this summer for the first time, the veteran jockey announced Monday through his longtime agent, Jerry Hissam.
Borel had ridden at Ellis Park every summer since 1996, before taking off most of last summer except to ride in weekend stakes races. Hissam said the main reason Borel is going to Saratoga is to ride for Nafzger.
The Saratoga meet runs July 25 through Sept. 3.
Borel currently is based at Churchill, where the spring meet ends July 8. Other top Churchill riders headed to Saratoga include Julien Leparoux, Rafael Bejarano, and Shaun Bridgmohan. Another top Churchill rider, Robby Albarado, will begin riding regularly at Arlington Park on July 21, agent Lenny Pike said.
Remarkable News topweight in Firecracker
Remarkable News will be the starting highweight at 122 pounds when the highlight of the coming weekend at Churchill, the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap, is run Saturday.
Remarkable News, based in New York with trainer Angel Penna Jr., won the Dixie Stakes on the May 19 Preakness undercard at Pimlico in his last start. He is one of as many as nine older horses expected for the $250,000 Firecracker, which is run at a mile on turf.
Entries for the Firecracker will be taken Wednesday. Besides Remarkable News, other probables include Brilliant, 121 pounds; Therecomesatiger, 118; Crested, 115; Tiganello, 115; Free Thinking, 114; and Hold the Salt, 112. Possible starters are Obi Wan Kenobi, 115, and Outperformance, 115.
Ellis Park meet overlaps Churchill
Horsemen and fans are interested in seeing how the impending dates overlap between Churchill and Ellis Park unfolds. Ellis, which was purchased from Churchill by Louisville businessman Ron Geary following the 2006 season, opens its summer meet next Wednesday, July 4, meaning the Henderson, Ky., track will overlap with Churchill for the first five days of its meet, July 4-8.
Entries and field sizes have been disappointing in recent weeks at Churchill, where two of Sunday's 11 races had four-horse fields and one other race had a five-horse field.
Purses at Ellis will be considerably lower than at Churchill.
Bejarano notches pair of hat tricks
Rafael Bejarano celebrated his 25th birthday in style Saturday when riding three winners, including favored Time's Mistress in the $65,000 allowance feature.
Time's Mistress, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was making her first start since capturing the Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes on the May 18 Preakness eve card at Pimlico. The 3-year-old Mr. Greeley filly is owned by Charles Kidder.
Bejarano won three more races Sunday to pull within one win of leader Julien Leparoux atop the spring meet standings. Going into the final 10-day stretch of the 52-day meet, Leparoux holds a tenuous 52-51 lead over Bejarano.
Humorous Gal returns a winner
Humorous Gal, with Calvin Borel riding for trainer Ian Wilkes, made a successful return to action when capturing the Sunday feature at Churchill, a $61,000 allowance at six furlongs. Humorous Gal, a 4-year-old filly by Distorted Humor, had not raced in nearly eight months after undergoing minor ankle surgery. She returned $18.40 after finishing in 1:10.73 over a sloppy track.
Maker takes three straight races
Trainer Mike Maker enjoyed a perfect Saturday afternoon when he sent out three winners in a row: Slam My Heart ($4.20) in the fifth race, What the Devil ($9.20) in the sixth, and Yonegwa ($5.40) in the seventh. Maker, a former longtime assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, has had a banner meet, with the three-win day giving him 13 victories from just 38 starters.
* Kenai River became the first three-time winner at the meet by romping to victory Friday in a one-mile starter allowance. Kenai River, a 6-year-old gelding, is trained by John Fahey III, a former Asmussen assistant and a lifelong Louisville resident.
* A Texas hold 'em tournament to benefit the Lifestyles Drug and Alcohol Abuse program will be held Monday in the Paddock Pavilion at Churchill. Buy-in is limited to 250 players at $225 each, with a top prize of $10,000. For more information, call (800) 928-4272 or (502) 636-4830.