05/20/2008 11:00PM

Trujillo enjoys fast start to meet


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It wasn't difficult for the thousands of fans on hand last Saturday at Churchill Downs to determine that Elvis was in the building. By winning with all three of his mounts, including Eaton's Gift in the Matt Winn Stakes, Elvis Trujillo got off to an auspicious start at a place he is planning to call home for the next six weeks or so.

Trujillo, the leading rider at Calder last summer, recently returned to riding after recovering from a broken wrist suffered in a Feb. 23 spill at Gulfstream Park. But instead of staying home at the Churchill Downs Inc.-owned Calder, where purses have been slashed 30 percent because of the continuing account-wagering stalemate between horsemen and management at the Miami track, he chose to move elsewhere.

Purses also have been cut 20 percent at Churchill, but with trainers such as Dale Romans and Wesley Ward behind him, Trujillo decided to give Churchill a try instead of Monmouth Park, where he "might" head after this meet ends July 6, according to agent Cliff Collier.

"It could depend on what happens with the purses at Calder," Collier said.

Trujillo, 24, is a native of Panama City, Panama, and a 2000 graduate of the famed Laffit Pincay Jr. jockey school. After winning 35 races in Panama and another 55 in Mexico City, he came to the United States in 2001. He has ridden primarily in south Florida but also has competed elsewhere, including Southern California, New Jersey, and, most notably, an 85-win meet at Arlington Park in 2002.

Trujillo scored the richest victory of his career last October at Monmouth when guiding Maryfield to victory in the inaugural $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. He had a career-high 305 wins in 2007.

Trujillo won with his first mount Wednesday at Churchill, scoring in the second race aboard Regardlesofoutcome, a Ward-trained 2-year-old.

Ruis joins Kentucky jockey colony

Mick Ruis Jr., a former standout apprentice on the Southern California circuit, is launching a comeback on the Kentucky circuit.

Ruis, who arrived last weekend and began getting on horses Monday morning at Churchill, will be named on mounts as early as Saturday, according to his new agent, Tony King. The 21-year-old Ruis most recently rode at Turf Paradise but has spent much of the year with his family in San Diego.

Ruis enjoyed easily the best year of his career in 2004, when he could still claim a five-pound apprentice allowance. His mounts won 172 races and earned more than $3.3 million that year.

Brass Hat heads Louisville Handicap

A field of 11 older horses has been entered for the Saturday feature, the Grade 3, $150,000 Louisville Handicap. Brass Hat, third in the Elkhorn Stakes in his last start, drew post 5 as a major contender in the 1 1/2-mile turf race.

The Louisville Handicap is one of two Grade 3 races to be run here over the three-day holiday weekend. The other is the $100,000 Winning Colors, a six-furlong filly-mare race on Monday in which Miss Macy Sue and Graeme Six are the likely favorites.

Golden Hare in claiming sprint

Golden Hare, the winningest Thoroughbred in North America last year, will return to action Friday in the seventh race, a $16,000 claiming sprint.

Golden Hare, a 9-year-old gelding, is nowhere close to the victory pace he set in 2007, when he won 14 of 17 starts, most of them in starter-allowance company. He finished last of seven in his most recent start, an April 26 turf sprint when he was risked for a claiming tag for the first time since Scott Blasi, the longtime assistant to Steve Asmussen, claimed him for a mere $3,500 in 2006.

Pure Clan targets Regret Stakes

Pure Clan, the third-place finisher in the May 2 Kentucky Oaks, will race next in the June 14 Regret Stakes on the Churchill turf, trainer Bob Holthus said Wednesday after the stretch-running filly breezed five furlongs in 1:02 over a fast main track.

Holthus said the Regret will serve as a prep for one of two Grade 1 races, the American Oaks on the Hollywood Park turf or the Coaching Club American Oaks on the Belmont Park main track.

A to the Croft wins on turf

A to the Croft, most recently seventh in the Kentucky Oaks, made a successful transition to turf when gliding away from six rivals in the fourth race Wednesday, a $43,100 allowance at 1 1/16 miles. She paid $3.20 as a heavy favorite with Robby Albarado aboard.

A to the Croft has run well on dirt and synthetic surfaces, but off her sharp Wednesday triumph, the $200,000 Regret would seem a possibility for her, too.

Her trainer, Ken McPeek, is out of the country until the weekend.