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Churchill Downs’ Friday Happy Hours sponsored by Budweiser Select will be taken to new levels during the 2011 Spring Meet as the home of the Kentucky Derby adds a post-race Paddock Concert Series to the already popular racing days.
For five consecutive Fridays between May 13 and June 10, Churchill Downs will present concerts in the paddock area after the races that showcase rising regional artists:
For the first time in track history, Churchill Downs will start its 2011 Spring Meet and Kentucky Derby Week in prime time. The first day of Churchill Downs’ 39-day Spring Meet on Saturday, April 30 will take place at night under the lights with the first of 11 live races scheduled for 6 p.m. ET. The unique, first-time event is simply billed as “Opening Night.”
Keeneland racing secretary Ben Huffman is anticipating a field of eight three-year-old fillies for Saturday's 74th running of the Ashland, the first of the meet's four Grade 1 races.
Topping the list of probables is Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables' KATHMANBLU (Bluegrass Cat), a four-time stakes winner trained by Ken McPeek. Scheduled to arrive at Keeneland on Wednesday, Kathmanblu worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
A field of 10 or 11 is anticipated by Keeneland racing secretary Ben Huffman for the 87th running of the $750,000 Blue Grass (G1) on April 16, centerpiece of the 15-day spring meeting that begins Friday and runs through April 29.
Topping the list of probables is Tom Walters' SANTIVA (Giant's Causeway), runner-up in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) here last fall and winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs to close out 2010. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Santiva finished second in his 2011 debut, the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds in February.
Nick Zito was nearly overcome by emotion at Gulfstream Park on Sunday afternoon, his voice quivering as he tried to put into words his reaction to DIALED IN's (Mineshaft) thrilling last-to-first triumph in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1). The Hall of Fame trainer found it easier to speak about his third Florida Derby victory during training hours at Palm Meadows Monday morning, but he still had difficultly describing the emotions that the late-developing three-year-old colt evokes in him.
Dialed In, who banked $600,000 for his last-to-first victory in Sunday’s Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, jumped from No. 17 to No. 2 on the Kentucky Derby 137 Graded Stakes Earnings List, and longshot runner-up Shackleford is positioned at No. 20. The list will likely determine the field for the “Run for the Roses” on Saturday, May 7 at Churchill Downs.
FLORIDA / PLETCHER’S R HEAT LIGHTNING HEADS GULFSTREAM PARK OAKS – Paul R. Robsham Stables’ R Heat Lightning was considered a major contender for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) heading into Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (GII), but her 8 ¼-length demolition of six rivals at Gulfstream Park could make her the filly to beat in America’s greatest race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 6 race at Churchill Downs.
Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In rallied from last over a speed-favoring surface to wear down front-running 68-1 longshot Shackleford for a narrow victory in Sunday’s $1 million Florida Derby (Grade I) at Gulfstream Park.
The third and final pool of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”) ended early Sunday evening with unbeaten champion Uncle Mo (#22) favored to win the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), but Florida Derby (GI) winner Dialed In (#5) closed fast in the pool’s final minutes to end up as a solid second choice.
Robert V. LaPenta's DIALED IN (Mineshaft) got the fast pace he wanted to set up his late kick in Sunday's $1 million Florida Derby (G1), but the deep closer had to pull out all the stops to catch the 68-1 longest shot on the board, Shackleford (Forestry). Patiently ridden by Julien Leparoux, the Nick Zito trainee got up in time to capture the season's deepest and most contentious Kentucky Derby (G1) prep.