01/27/2009 12:00AM

Thornbury's graded victory finally may come


Jeff Thornbury never has won a graded stakes race in a training career dating to 1981, but he will have at least one if not two chances to notch his first graded victory on the multi-stakes card at Fair Grounds on Feb. 7. Thornbury confirmed Tuesday that 2-year-old stakes winner War Tigress will make her 3-year-old and dirt debut in the Grade 3 Silverbulletday Stakes, while recent allowance winner Mad Flatter is a possible runner in the Grade 3 Mineshaft.

War Tigress, a homebred daughter of War Chant owned by Ann Lynch, won 3 of her 4 starts in 2008, capping an all-grass campaign with a promising win over 11 rivals in the Caressing Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29. War Tigress was turned out for about three weeks at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, but has logged three Fair Grounds workouts - including a bullet five-furlong gate work in 1:00.40 on Saturday - prepping for the Silverbulletday.

"I'm not sure who's coming for the race and who's not, but we're going to try the dirt," said Thornbury. "There's not much out there for her otherwise, and I'm pretty encouraged by the way she trains on dirt. Her mother was a dirt horse primarily until late in her career. It is strictly a guess, but she's a nice filly and she deserves a chance."

Fair Grounds has listed five other fillies as likely runners for the Silverbulletday, which in 2008 produced two Eclipse Award winners, Indian Blessing and Proud Spell: Tiffany Lass winner Just Jenda and third-place finisher Four Gifts are expected to start, along with War Echo, California shipper Evita Argentina, and Southern Yankee.

Thornbury said Mad Flatter, who ran exceptionally fast winning a second-level two-turn dirt allowance race on Jan. 22, could wheel back quickly in the Mineshaft Handicap.

"It's a little quicker back than I'd like," said Thornbury. "But if he gives us every indication he's doing well, we'll try to do it."

My Pal Charlie nears 4-year-old debut

Last year's Super Derby winner My Pal Charlie remains on course to make his 4-year-old debut in the Feb.o7 Mineshaft, but trainer Al Stall said that 3-year-old Terrain is out of the Risen Star because of a minor illness.

My Pal Charlie won his maiden last year at Fair Grounds in a $50,000 claiming race, but later in the meet he finished second in the Louisiana Derby, and by the end of the year, he had gotten even better. He scored a sharp win over Macho Again and Forest Command in the Sept. 20 Super Derby, and finished a close and creditable fourth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile after taking the lead in midstretch.

"He's good to go," Stall said. "Everything's been proper with him. He's hit every little thing we wanted to do with him. One more breeze, and then we'll run."

Meanwhile, graded-stakes-winning Terrain banked more than $400,000 last year, and was a close fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile before finishing a disappointing fifth as the favorite in the Dec. 5 Delta Jackpot. Terrain had worked three times since the Jackpot, and Stall was targeting the Risen Star, but Terrain got sick, forcing Stall to miss some training time.

"He's back in light jogging now," said Stall. "I have no idea what race we may or may not run him in."