06/17/2008 11:00PM

Theriot rides six winners on one card


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Bret Calhoun felt the pressure before sending out his stable star, Mr. Nightlinger, in the featured eighth race Wednesday at Churchill Downs - but not just because the colt was an odds-on favorite.

Calhoun had given a leg up to jockey Jamie Theriot, who already had won with five of six mounts. So after Mr. Nightlinger ran off to a 2 1/4-length victory in the $50,400 turf sprint, Calhoun smiled and feigned a gesture to suggest the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders.

"I didn't want to get blamed for Jamie missing out on six winners," said Calhoun.

Theriot, who moved his tack to Kentucky from Louisiana in the spring of 2007, was ecstatic with his rare feat. Pat Day holds the Churchill record for most wins on a card, having won with 7 of 8 mounts on June 20, 1984. Only on nine previous occasions had a jockey ridden six winners, including Day four times.

"Wow," said Theriot, 29. "I really liked two or three of my horses today, but to do this is absolutely great."

Theriot scored earlier with Time to Getit ($24.60) in the first, Flying Jazz ($11.80) in the second, Symbology ($3) in the fourth, Curvature ($6.40) in the fifth, and Matty's Trail ($13) in the seventh. His only losing mount of the day came aboard Rose Is a Rage, the sixth-place finisher in the third.

Theriot said he previously had ridden five winners on a card at four different tracks: Lone Star, Oaklawn, Fair Grounds, and Evangeline. "To win six here at Churchill, I couldn't imagine," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nightlinger furthered his status as one of the hottest turf sprinters in North America. The 4-year-old Mr. Nightlinger ($3.40) led gate to wire in a swift 56.73 seconds. The allowance victory followed back-to-back triumphs in the Shakertown at Keeneland and the Churchill Turf Sprint, both Grade 3 events.

"Everything we do from here is to get to the Breeders' Cup," which offers the inaugural $1 million BC Turf Sprint on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. "There are some races at Arlington and Del Mar that could get us there. The main thing is to keep him sound and happy and to keep him running like he did today."

Racecar Rhapsody likely to be sold

Another likely heavy favorite on the Wednesday card, Racecar Rhapsody, was an early scratch from the seventh race. Churchill reported that an entity with Dubai connections had purchased the colt.

However, Jerry Carroll, who heads the partnership that owns Racecar Rhapsody, would only say the colt was "in the process" of being sold. In addition, a spokesman for the Darley and Godolphin stables said they were not the buyer.

Racecar Rhapsody, trained by Ken McPeek, most recently was fourth in the May 17 Preakness.

"We'll know more in the next day or two," said McPeek.

Curlin set to breeze Monday

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Curlin will have an easy breeze on the dirt Monday at Churchill in his first workout since the colt registered a 4 1/4-length victory last weekend in the Stephen Foster Handicap.

After that, the next workout for Curlin will come July 1 on the Churchill turf course, said Asmussen, who is seriously considering a turf campaign that would culminate with the Oct. 5 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France.

Curlin won for the fifth straight time in the Foster. His career totals stand at 9 wins from 12 starts and earnings of more than $9.3 million.

Ellis opening overlaps with Churchill

Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., is gearing up for the two-month summer meet that runs July 4 through Sept. 1. For the second straight year, Ellis will overlap with Churchill for several days.

This year, the overlap is for three days (July 4-6). Last year, the first since Ron Geary bought the track, Ellis overlapped with Churchill for its first five days.

Charity benefits from poker score

Henry Montgomery, sponsored by Churchill president Steve Sexton, emerged the winner among 141 players in the charity poker tournament Monday night in the Triple Crown Room. Sexton then opted to donate half of the $10,000 first-prize proceeds to the Backside Lifestyle Drug and Alcohol Abuse program.

Montgomery, a student at the University of Kentucky, is the 20-year-old son of Sandy Montgomery, a Churchill clocker and Sallee Van Lines agent, and Allison DeLuca, a senior racing official at Churchill.

* Calvin Borel, out of action since taking off his mounts last Saturday because of a strained knee ligament, is named to ride in four races Friday, his first day back since being cleared to return.

* With no stakes races here this weekend, three allowances anchor an 11-race Saturday card. The richest is the ninth, a $50,400 allowance pitting seven older horses at a mile on the main track.