Updated on 09/15/2011 1:26PM

Trouble in River City

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Adam Coglianese
Dr Kashnikow, winning the Fourstardave at Saratoga in August, hopes to spoil the return of Tijiyr in Sunday's Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The twists of racing seemingly never cease. Niall O'Callaghan merely wanted to bring Tijiyr back to the races in an allowance earlier this week, but when the race came up too tough, O'Callaghan settled instead for the Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

On Sunday, when Tijiyr makes his first start in over five months in the $150,000-added River City, O'Callaghan is optimistic that he will have made the right call.

"That race Wednesday came up very salty," he said, referring to a $59,800 allowance won by Dernier Croise over Buff and Northcote Road. "Those were stakes horses in there, so I thought, why not run for another $100,000 against pretty much the same caliber of horses?"

The logic is clear. Tijiyr, as the winner of the Grade 2 Explosive Bid at the Fair Grounds in March, obviously has the ability to win at almost any level, assuming that he is in peak form. Therein lies the twist: Tijiyr has not started since running third in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap in June, having exited that race in need of arthroscopic surgery for an ankle chip.

"I think I have him fit and sharp," said O'Callaghan. "If he runs like he's been training, he should be tough."

Pat Day will ride Tijiyr, a 5-year-old gray owned by Gary Tanaka, in the 1 1/8-mile River City, which drew a field of eight. Tijiyr, who will carry highweight of 117 pounds, was supplemented for $7,500, since O'Callaghan did not nominate him on the assumption that the allowance race was his comeback spot.

Probably the toughest rivals for Tijiyr will be Dr. Kashnikow, Minor Wisdom, Make No Mistake, and Strategic Mission. The rest of the field is Nat's Big Party, Just Like Jimmy, and Slough Creek.

Dr. Kashnikow, a 4-year-old gray, won the Fourstardave at Saratoga in August for Maryland-based John "Doc" Fisher, who most recently sent him out to a fourth-place finish in the Sept. 22 Cliff Hanger at The Meadowlands.

Minor Wisdom won the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Mile two starts back and continues to hold form for trainer Richie Scherer.

Make No Mistake, trained by turf specialist Burk Kessinger Jr., won the Bougainvillea and Arlington handicaps earlier this year.

Strategic Mission, as usual, probably will try to lead wire to wire. A speedy son of Mr. Prospector, Strategic Mission, should have clear sailing from his outside post under Jorge Chavez.

The 10th race on the Sunday car, a tough $57,200 allowance, serves as the middle leg of the Churchill Downs Simulcasting Network Turf Pick 3.