08/13/2008 11:00PM

Windyindy targeting graded win


HENDERSON, Ky. - The long and winding road that took Carl Nafzger to the Racing Hall of Fame has hardly reached its end.

Shortly after his Aug. 4 induction in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Nafzger and his wife, Wanda, made the long westward drive to Chicago, where last Saturday they attended the International Festival of Racing at Arlington Park. From Chicago, the Nafzgers were headed south to Ellis Park, where on Saturday the only graded race of the meet, the Grade 3 Gardenia Handicap, will be run for the 27th time.

Nafzger will saddle Windyindy for owner-breeder Jim Tafel in the $150,000 Gardenia, a one-mile race that drew a field of seven fillies and mares. Calvin Borel, who rode 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense for Nafzger and Tafel, has the mount.

Windyindy, a 4-year-old filly by A.P. Indy, was in excellent form until being overmatched by top-class company this spring in the Madison Stakes and Humana Distaff. She has raced just once since then, finishing second in an Ellis allowance sprint last month.

"We had to get a race into her before running her in the Gardenia," Nafzger said. "We'd love to win a graded stakes with her. She's a well-bred filly, a good filly, and I'd imagine she'll fit pretty good in this race."

As such, Windyindy figures as one of the secondary wagering choices in the Gardenia. Fancy Fusaichi, coming off a breakthrough victory in the June 28 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows, should be a solid favorite for Kinsman Stable and trainer Bill Mott, but several others, including Windyindy, appear to be in with a fighting chance.

The probable pacesetter is Miss Atlantic, the Iowa Distaff runner-up. Trainer Randy Morse, who currently has part of his split stable at Ellis, said he hopes the race unfolds favorably for Miss Atlantic, a Mike Langford homebred.

"I just hope the track is as fast as it's been for a lot of the meet here," Morse said.

Fancy Fusaichi, with Brian Hernandez Jr. to ride, will carry high weight of 117 pounds, spotting her opponents one to five pounds.

The Gardenia is part of the richest program of the meet. Also on tap are the $50,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante, the $50,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile, and three allowance races.