Alpha – The runner-up to Union Rags in Belmont Park’s Champagne last month arrived at Churchill Downs early Tuesday morning by van from Belmont.
“He got in at about 4,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He’ll go to the track tomorrow.”
Alpha drew post 9 with jockey Garrett Gomez. McLaughlin says the colt can be more forwardly placed than he was last time out in the Champagne, a race in which Alpha surprisingly dropped back to last place in the early stages.
“He didn’t break well and having him that far back was something we obviously didn’t want to happen,” McLaughlin said. “I hope he breaks better and is a lot closer. I really think he’ll improve off the Champagne. I’m hoping he’ll improve a good seven lengths.”
Creative Cause – The winner of three of four lifetime starts and ranked as second choice in the Juvenile at 7-2 on the morning line arrived in Louisville late Tuesday morning from California and settled into his Churchill Downs stall shortly afterward.
Trainer Mike Harrington, who preceded the colt to Louisville, said his 2yo will go to the track to train Wednesday morning.
Dullahan – Trainer Dale Romans couldn’t be happier with his Breeders’ Futurity winner as he progresses toward his start Saturday.
“He’s never trained better,” said Romans.
When asked about the final decision to run the Even the Score colt in the Juvenile versus the Juvenile Turf, Romans said it came down to the distance of the race.
“If the Juvenile Turf had been longer than a mile, we may have thought harder about it, but he’s a horse that wants more ground (and the Juvenile is 1 1/16m). Plus, he’s training well on the dirt and a win here sets him up to be champion 2-year-old. There will be plenty of time to run him on the turf next year.”
Fort Loudon – After completing a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder, Fort Loudon will make his Graded stakes debut in the Juvenile in which he has drawn post 12 for trainer Stan Gold, who won the Juvenile Fillies last year with Awesome Feather.
“I’d rather be outside than in and not have to worry about getting crunched down on the inside,” Gold said. “And he has tactical speed, so he should have no problem getting out and finding his spot early.”
After going winless in his first three starts at Calder, Fort Loudon has been unbeaten since and will enter Saturday’s race on a four-race winning streak, having rolled through the three-race Florida Stallion Stakes series unscathed.
“He’s been getting smarter and stronger as he matures and he will let the rider tell him what to do,” Gold said. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a little immature; he’s still out there playing around some. But he looks the part and acts the part and I’m excited to give him a chance against the best.”
Fort Loudon had his final work at Calder on Oct. 26 (5f in 1:02 2/5) and will gallop up to Saturday’s race.
Hansen – For most of the summer, this Juvenile contender was one of trainer Mike Maker’s favorites, but he had no idea what to call the homebred son of Tapit.
“Dr. Kendall Hansen has owned horses with me for a year and a half now, and he bred this colt,” Maker explained. “I remember talking to him on the phone and telling him that this horse could be a superstar and that he was closer to being ready to run. He needed a name. He had brought up naming a horse after himself before, and this was the right opportunity to do that.”
An undisclosed percentage of Hansen was recently purchased by Skychai Racing of Dr. Harvey Diamond and Jim Shircliff, who earlier this year ran second in the Blue Grass at Keeneland with Twinspired.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez will get his first try aboard Hansen on Saturday.
Optimizer – The 2yo prospect galloped Tuesday morning over the Churchill Downs strip as he moved closer to Saturday’s Juvenile.
Prospective – The Grey Stakes winner at Woodbine galloped for 1 ½m and schooled at the gate on Tuesday morning. He is scheduled for another lesson at the gate Wednesday and then will be schooled in the paddock during the fourth race on Wednesday afternoon.
Norman Casse, top assistant to his father Mark, said that all is right on schedule with the 2yo son of Malibu Moon.
Prospective is one of two horses owned by John Oxley and trained by Casse who are running in this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Northern Passion will contest the Juvenile Fillies on Friday.
Take Charge Indy – Trainer Pat Byrne, who won the 1997 Juvenile with the undefeated Favorite Trick, was very pleased with his latest 2yo standout as he watched him cool out from a 1 1/2m gallop.
Despite having made his first three career starts on synthetic surfaces, Byrne is confident that the son of 1992 Classic winner A.P. Indy out of multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady will handle his first start on dirt.
“He’s had two good works over the track since his last race,” said Byrne. “He seems to be moving very well over the track. We’ve had this race as our main goal all along and hopefully can get back here in the spring (for the Derby). He has the pedigree, he has the physical ability and his mind is good.”
Union Rags – The 2-1 morning line favorite got acquainted with the Churchill Downs paddock and track for the first time since arriving from his Maryland base at Fair Hill training center. With assistant trainer Peter Brette on board and trainer Michael Matz close by on a pony, Union Rags visited the paddock and then galloped 1 ½m.
“He didn’t do any training yesterday since he was traveling, so he was a little fresh this morning. He looks good,” Matz said. “He’s just been a dream to train. He’s got everything you’d want in a racehorse. He’s fast, he finds a way to get out of trouble and he’s got a great mind. He came out of his last race (a win in the Champagne Stakes) great. We took him back to Fair Hill that night and he ate right up. The next morning he was looking for me.”
Awesome Belle – Trainer Stanley Gold, who won the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year with Jacks or Better Farms’ homebred Awesome Feather, will try to win the race for the second straight time when starting Awesome Belle in this year’s renewal.
“The last thing I thought last year when I left Churchill was that I would be back again this year,” Gold said. “I just never would have imagined that. I don’t even know the right words to express what that feels like.”
While Awesome Feather was sent off the favorite in last year’s race, Awesome Belle is viewed as an outsider at 20-1 on the morning line. And unlike Awesome Feather, who won from post 3, Awesome Belle will have to break from an outside stall, having drawn post 14 at Monday’s post-position draw.
“The outside post really doesn’t change a thing and I’m not all that concerned about it,” Gold said. “She should have no trouble getting out. And she has some tactical speed so she should be able to find her spot early.”
Awesome Belle had her final work at Calder on Oct. 25 (4f in 48 1/5) and will gallop up to Friday’s race.
“She has taken to the track well and has been training well and seems to like it up here,” Gold said. “So right now there is no reason to think we’ll see anything but her best for the race.”
Frolic's Revenge – The 2yo filly was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday afternoon by van from her base at Calder after passing on a flight that arrived with several Florida-based horses last Friday.
“I didn’t want to fly her up here and then find out that she didn’t get into the race,” trainer Milton Wolfson said. “I didn’t find out until yesterday (Monday) afternoon that the other horse (Stopshoppingmaria) had (entered the Juvenile Fillies Turf instead) and I got in.
“During the draw, I had a van on stand-by waiting at the barn until I got the word. She didn’t leave until yesterday but that was the only way I could do it. I got lucky to get her into the Juvenile Fillies.”
When Stopshoppingmaria and Stephanie’s Kitten, both cross-entered in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, were sent to the grass race instead, Wolfson’s luck got even better.
John Velazquez is the only rider Stopshoppingmaria has ever had, and Velazquez rode Stephanie’s Kitten in her last.
“I got lucky to get in and lucky again to get Velazquez. Everything is coming into place,” he said.
Wolfson was unsure about the plans for Frolic’s Revenge on Wednesday. “I’m waiting to see how she comes off the van. The trip should be fine. They stopped last night half way at a little farm and let her off to stretch her legs and eat dinner,” Wolfson said.
Grace Hall – The undefeated daughter of Empire Maker arrived on a Tex Sutton flight from Baltimore on Monday and Carol Fisher, assistant trainer to Anthony Dutrow, took her to the racetrack early on Tuesday morning while also making a few turns around the paddock.
“I jogged her a half-mile and let her see everything so she could relax,” Fisher said. “She does everything perfectly. She couldn’t be any better, and I couldn’t be any happier with her.”
The Spinaway and Blue Hen stakes winner, who was bred in Kentucky by Darley, got in her last workout on Sunday when she breezed 4f in 49 at Delaware Park.
Miss Netta – Saratoga maiden winner Miss Netta arrived at Churchill Downs early Tuesday morning by van from New York.
“She got in at about 4 this morning,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “She’ll train tomorrow.”
Miss Netta, a daughter of Kentucky Derby and Travers winner Street Sense, walked her Churchill Downs shedrow Tuesday morning. She enters the Juvenile Fillies off a third-place finish in Belmont Park’s Frizette.
“She was very unlucky and had a terrible trip,” McLaughlin said. “She didn’t break well and I think she dropped back once she got dirt in her face. I was happy she was able to finish for third. I know the distance on Friday won’t be a problem.”
My Miss Aurelia – Undefeated from three starts, George Bolton and Stonestreet Stables’ 2yo daughter of Smart Strike has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. A 5 ½-length winner of the Frizette last out, she drew post nine in the field of 14.
“She has a ton of talent,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I was very impressed with her Frizette, and happy with how she’s done since. We like her. She’s doing really well here (at Churchill).”
Northern Passion – The winner of the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine galloped 1 1/4 m on Tuesday under Melanie Giddings and will school at the gate on Wednesday morning and then be schooled in the paddock during the first race that afternoon.
Norman Casse, the top assistant to his father Mark, thinks the 2yo daughter of First Samurai is coming into the race in excellent form.
“She’s a very professional filly,” Casse said. “She’s easy to work with, easy to train and she has a nice disposition around the barn.”
Questing – The Hard Spun filly Questing went out to the main track Tuesday for some light exercise at 7:30 a.m.
Trained by John Gosden for Princess Haya of Jordan, Questing will be making her first start on dirt in the Juvenile Fillies. She won her debut over 7f on turf at Newbury in June, finished third by a head in the Prestige Stakes on turf in August at Goodwood, and was second by a neck in the Sakhee Oh So Sharp Stakes at Newmarket on Sept. 23.
Self Preservation – The daughter of Lion Heart, who broke her maiden in Ireland on second asking, jogged 4f and galloped 1 m Tuesday morning as she trained toward Friday’s race.
Since coming to the United States to be trained by Ben Cecil, she is winless in two starts, having bowed to Weemissfrankie each time. She finished second to that filly in the Del Mar Debutante, but faded badly after going to the lead in Oak Leaf at Santa Anita and finished fifth of eight.
Weemissfrankie – Trainer Peter Eurton said his concerns about two turns and a dirt surface for his 2yo filly were eased when she came from off the pace to win Santa Anita’s Oak Leaf Stakes at 1 1/16m. The undefeated daughter of Sunriver will once again tackle that distance Friday as the morning-line second choice at 4-1.
Eurton figures having Rafael Bejarano in the saddle is an advantage since the rider was prominent earlier in his career at Churchill Downs.
“I don’t have to give ‘Raffy’ any instructions,” Eurton said. “He always comes prepared and he knows her, having ridden her all three times.”
The filly, named in honor of the late Frank Alesia whose wife is a partner, galloped 1 1/8m Tuesday morning under regular exercise rider Paul Toscano.