And He Likes Kentucky Downs
Bullard’s Alley, second in last year’s $600,000, Grade III Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Club, wil try to go one better in Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Downs’ signature race.
Bullard’s Alley, a 12-1 shot on the morning line, will be ridden by Marcelino Pedroza. He'll try to win for the first time in 15 races since taking Churchill Downs’ Grade III Louisville Handicap in 2016. But the 5-year-old gelding lost Keeneland’s Grade II Sycamore by only a half-length and two races back lost Woodbine’s Singspiel by a neck. He was running well in Arlington’s St. Leger when Applicator bolted and knocked Bullard’s Alley out of his game with five-eighths of a mile left. He wound up fifth.
“He’s doing really well. He has been all this season,” said Churchill Downs-based trainer Tim Glyshaw. “Unfortunately he hasn’t won a race yet, but he’s been running in some really tough races. He ran a bang-up race when second in the SIngspiel. I really think up at Arlington in the St. Leger that he was going to win the race and (Applicator) made a right-hand turn and we almost clipped heels and went down. It basically cost us the race. The one thing we do know about Bullard is that, having run at Kentucky Downs before, he doesn’t mind running up and down. The course doesn’t seem to affect him.
“We’re pretty confident. Obviously it’s $600,000 and there are a ton of nice horses for that kind of money — there always will be. But we’re pretty confident because our horse like the course. That’s all you can ask going into a race like that.”
Bullard’s Alley’s schedule got off-kilter starting when he was stuck in quarantine in New Orleans because of an outbreak of equine herpes virus, forcing Glyshaw to run him in the Fair Grounds’ shorter turf stakes.
“It’s been a disappointment that he hasn’t won but it isn’t due to his effort,” Glyshaw said. “It’s just early on not getting in the right races due the circumstances, and then the latter, just bad racing luck. However often do you see a horse bolt at the 5 1/2-furlong pole?”
As an aside, the horse that bothered Bullard's Alley, Applicator, won Wednesday’s $400,000 Tourist Mile.
Bullard’s Alley is a cool horse with a lot of personality, a barn favorite and just a bit spoiled. Why not? The $11,000 2-year-old purchase has earned $450,981.
“Poor guy. He’s not the brightest horse in the world,” Glyshaw said. “But he’s very loved in here. I think he knows he runs in big races. He’ll do everything he can. Fortunately and unfortunately, he’s running against some of the top long-distance runners in the United States. He has white eyes and just does some things that aren’t too smart sometimes. But I tell you what, whenever you ask him to go, he will. And he can run all day. If they had a bunch of two-mile races for him, that would be absolutely wonderful.”
Also in the field is Nessy, Bullard’s Alley’s full brother, with both horses being by Travers winner Flower Alley and out of the Kris S. mare Flower Forest. The Ian Wilkes-trained Nessy is 20-1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Brian Hernandez. The 4-year-old gelding was second in Saratoga’s restricted John’s Call at 1 5/8 mile in his last start.
The brothers ran against each other in the 2017 Louisville Handicap, with big brother third while attempting to defend his 2016 title and Nessy sixth.
“He’s bred to go the distance,” Hernandez said. “He looks like he should be solid in there. Only tough thing for us is we drew the 12 hole. Normally here that doesn’t matter. But going a mile and a half here, it does because going around that first turn can get tricky.”
Said Wilkes: “He’s doing well. The horse has really improved. He’s coming back pretty quick. I’m wheeling him back in 15 days, but I think he’s a better horse now than he was earlier in the year.”
Competition in the race should be fierce. While two-time Kentucky Turf Cup winner Da Big Hoss is on the shelf, there is plenty of other talent in the 1 1/2-mile race. Starting with Da Big Hoss’ stablemates in the Mike Maker barn. That includes 3-1 race favorite Enterprising, 7-2 second choice Oscar Nominated, 5-1 fourth choice Taghleeb, with 30-1 St. Louie. Maryland import and Arlington Park’s Grade III St. Leger winner Postulation is 9-2 in the field of 12, with two others awaiting scratches to run.
Edited Kentucky Downs release
Photo by Coady Photography