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Visiting filly to try Silverbulletday
NEW ORLEANS - It's hard to send a good horse packing, but trainer Greg Foley spends his winters racing at Turfway Park. There are stakes there for his 3-year-old filly, Golden Marlin, but Foley thinks Golden Marlin has earned a chance in better races. So about two weeks ago, Foley, who is based at Churchill Downs, put Golden Marlin on a van bound for Fair Grounds.
Golden Marlin runs here Saturday in the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, a Grade 2 race at 1 1/16 miles. It will be her first start outside Kentucky, and, more importantly, her first race around two turns. Golden Marlin, a daughter of the long-winded turf horse Marlin, has raced in four sprints, winning her maiden in her career debut and Turfway's Cincinnati Trophy Stakes in her last start. She also finished third to the talented fillies Lady Tak and Perfect Story in a Churchill allowance race.
"We sure think she's been wanting to go two turns all along," said Foley, who co-owns Golden Marlin with three partners. "A couple of the partners saw this race coming up at Fair Grounds, and the plan for a while has been to go there."
But Foley has a barn full of other horses to take care of in Kentucky, so he has cut loose day-to-day supervision of Golden Marlin. He sent an assistant with the filly, who is stabled here in the barn of a friend, trainer Angel Montano. The reports Foley has gotten are good.
"Angel said she's been doing great," Foley said. "She's worked a couple times and they said she went real well."
Golden Marlin breezed six furlongs in a swift 1:14.40 here on Feb. 2. A half-mile work Monday didn't make the work tab, but Foley said Golden Marlin breezed a half-mile with a good five-furlong gallop out. Shane Sellers has been retained to ride her Saturday.
Allspice, one of the favorites for the Silverbulletday, breezed a half-mile here Wednesday in 48.80 seconds. In her most recent start Allspice finished second to Lady Tak in the Tiffany Lass Stakes. The other horses expected to run are Arrival Time, Belle of Perintown, Cheryl's Myth, Rebridled Dreams, Souris, and perhaps Afternoon Dreams.
Lone Star Sky looking livelier
Lone Star Sky worked a quick half-mile here Wednesday in 48.40 seconds, third fastest of 38 breezes at the distance. Trainer Tom Amoss said there's little doubt Lone Star Sky has trained sharply in recent weeks, but Sunday's Risen Star Stakes may tell once and for all if Lone Star Sky is suited to two-turn racing.
Lone Star Sky is one of 13 horses expected to be entered in the Grade 3, $150,000 Risen Star. Four horses have hit the national radar screen and are part of Pool 1 in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager; Badge of Silver, Indy Dancer, Saintly Look, and Seattle Hoofer. For all their perceived abilities, this quartet boasts among them only two stakes wins, both by Saintly Look, who won the Sugar Bowl and Lecomte Stakes here. Badge of Silver, Indy Dancer, and Seattle Hoofer all are first-level allowance winners, though each ran impressively winning his last start.
Lone Star Sky, on the other hand, won a Grade 3 last summer and was second to Sky Mesa in the Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. But Lone Star Sky finished 11th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was seventh here Jan. 25 in the Lecomte, his first start as a 3-year-old. Lone Star Sky raced in the Lecomte after getting only a handful of preparatory workouts following a winter break and should have gained fitness from his comeback race.
"He can improve," Amoss said. "His works have been sharper and better. His work today was very good, and so was the one last week."
Lone Star Sky won the Cradle Stakes at River Downs in his first two-turn try, and the Breeders' Futurity is contested at 1 1/16 miles. But Amoss remains unconvinced that Lone Star Sky can show his best over a route of ground.
"The question with him still is, can he distance," said Amoss. "The truth is, he's been more impressive in sprints than at two turns."
Wanted: Less eventful trip
Whatever else happens to her, Achnasheen put in one of the most amazing races at the Fair Grounds meet.
In a 5 1/2-furlong turf-sprint allowance here Jan. 24, Achnasheen, the 6-5 favorite, was racing along at he back of an eight-horse field as she approached the far turn. Jockey Shane Sellers was just winding up Achnasheen for her late run when a rival darted in front of her. Achnasheen clipped heels and stumbled badly, nearly falling down. Somehow, she righted herself, but when Achnasheen regained her stride Sellers was out of the irons. Holding on desperately, he found his seat again as Achnasheen continued on along the turn in last place. And then she started rolling. In just more than a quarter-mile, Achnasheen made up 10 lengths, charging into a photo finish for win with Run Sarah Run. For all her work Achnasheen got no justice - she lost by a nose.
"I still thought she'd won it," trainer Mitch Shirota said. "That was an incredible race."
Achnasheen came out of the rodeo no worse for wear, and in Friday's ninth race takes a step Shirota has plotted for several months, a stretch out to two turns on dirt. Achnasheen won her maiden on turf here Jan. 6, but Shirota pointed out "she ran second on dirt in her first start" last summer at Ellis Park. "I think she can go long," Shirota said.
Achnasheen has worked fast since she started getting serious for her comeback earlier in the meet, and a week after her last start, Achnasheen turned in another sharp half-mile work. Sellers rides back, and Achnasheen may have a talent edge on her seven rivals Friday. Her most obvious rival is Spinning Wind, who was second to the talented Perfect Wave in a Dec. 27 sprint race here.
Training races thinning
With only about six weeks left in the Fair Grounds meet, the number of horses in training races is dwindling. There were only two schooling races Wednesday, one for fillies and one for colts. Both went in fairly slow times, but that has been the rule in practice heats throughout the meet
Twilight Parade finished first in the filly race, in which there were no really noteworthy performances. The race for males had a bit more substance, with Financial finishing first despite never being asked for run by jockey Corey Lanerie. Financial, who is trained by Steve Asmussen, showed speed and seemed professional enough to be a factor in his debut.
The sleeper was Elegant Ambassador, who looks more like a route horse than a sprinter. He was restrained early but ran the stretch decently and galloped out better than anyone else.