Wednesday, March 22, 2006 12:00 AM
Trainers look ahead to Lane’s End
FLORENCE, KY . . . March 22, 2006 . . . With the post position draw scheduled for Thursday, fields for Saturday’s $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (G2) and the four other stakes on the Turfway Park card continue to come together.
Silent Times (IRE) at home on Polytrack
Asked why he decided to bring Silent Times (IRE) to the U.S., trainer Eoghan O’Neill said, “Polytrack. The Polytrack surface is the best thing they can ever do. I have a private Polytrack on my farm and I have been pointing Silent Times to this race for three months. He swims every day, twice a day. He’s very fit.”
Owner John Fretwell had 28 two-year-olds last year and followed through on his plan to sell every one of them—except Silent Times. It was not for lack of buyers, said O’Neill. “I really thought he could be something special. The offers were decent but with what he had already done on the track [Silent Times is a Group II winner] and what I thought he was capable of, we turned them down. This is a horse I really think John can have fun with.”
While the Lane’s End will be O’Neill’s first start in the U.S., he hopes it will not be his last. “The plan is to run here, then the Blue Grass, and then the Derby,” he said, “but it all depends on Saturday. If he doesn’t run first or second, then it’s back home.”
Asmussen hopes distance, bloodlines favor More Than Regal
Fresh off the only two wins in his career, including the $50,000 Sportsman’s Paradise Stakes at Evangeline Downs, More Than Regal will shoot for three in a row in the Lane’s End Stakes. Trainer Steve Asmussen thinks the nine-furlong distance and the Polytrack surface could prove a winning combination.
“His last two races, both at a mile, were his best yet,” said Asmussen. “The farther he has gone, the better he has run. All systems are go.”
Though More Than Regal shows no published works since his win at Evangeline, Asmussen said the horse has been training well and worked out at Louisiana Downs earlier this month in a move not picked up by the clockers.
More Than Regal made his career debut at Turfway on Kentucky Cup day last September, finishing a troubled sixth. “He didn’t run badly that day,” said Asmussen, “and it means the Polytrack surface won’t be foreign to him. His full brother [Ready Ruler] handled both turf and dirt, so I think More Than Regal might figure to like the Polytrack.”
Zito pair likely for Lane’s End
The Nick Zito racing stable today confirmed plans to ship a pair of three-year-olds—Superfly and Hemingway’s Key—to Turfway for Saturday stakes action. Both horses, currently stabled in Florida, are expected to run in the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes. “They will likely ship in the next day or two,” said Tim Poole, Zito’s longtime assistant. “All preparations for both horses are complete, and each will gallop up to the race.”
Bradley likes extra distance for Pair of Kings
Pair of Kings made a scorching closing run in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway March 4 and just missed stealing the win from Laity. Trainer William “Buff” Bradley thinks the extra half-furlong of the Lane’s End will be an advantage. “We do need speed in there for it to set up for him. He’s a closer. He’s not a real big horse, but he’s well-balanced, and really loves the track. We think he could go all day. If has a good trip and the speed picks up, he could be right there. I think we’re probably pretty ambitious to step up to this spot, but you know, we’ve done it before so we’ll try it again.
“We’ve done it before” is an allusion to the 2004 Rushaway, when Bradley’s Brass Hat broke his maiden in the race. Bradley will miss the Lane’s End to saddle Brass Hat in the Dubai World Cup on the same day.
Correction: Tuesday’s notes stated that Tahoe Warrior had raced exclusively on grass. The horse in fact started his career on the dirt, finishing 0-2-2 in six starts including a third behind Private Vow and Flashy Bull, before switching to turf for his last three races. In those three, he has two wins and one second.
Servis hopes Fidrych has his fastball for the Rushaway
Trainer John Servis experienced the victory of a lifetime with Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. On Saturday, he hopes to rekindle a little Kentucky fire when he saddles Fidrych in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes. Robby Albarado has been named to ride.
Fidrych, a son of Grand Slam out of a Storm Bird mare, is the namesake of pitcher Mark Fidrych, whose nickname “The Bird” nods to his resemblance to Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Thus far, the equine Fidrych has been as consistent as his human counterpart during The Bird’s 19-win Rookie of the Year season in 1976. In five career starts, all sprints, Fidrych the horse has never failed to hit the board.
“I wanted to stretch him out and one option was to sit here and wait for the Northern Spur,” said Servis. “But that race is too close to other races I might like to run him in later, like the Withers. The timing of the Rushaway is perfect.”
Servis is hopeful that Fidrych will adapt easily to Turfway’s Polytrack surface. “He’s never raced on it,” said Servis, “but he has trained over it at Keeneland and seemed to like it just fine.”
Sadler’s Trick to the Rushaway
Trainer Patrick Biancone will saddle Sadler’s Trick in the Rushway, with Julien Leparoux to ride. Although winless in three starts, Sadler’s Trick has finished behind such well-regarded horses as Simon Pure, Point of Impact, and Latent Heat. Biancone is a Polytrack fan. “I like what my horses like,” he said.
Warrior Within on track for Rushaway
After leading gate to wire to win the WEBN Stakes at Turfway, Warrior Within finished last in the John Battaglia Memorial after being caught behind a wall of horses. Trainer Daniel “Speedy” Smithwick Jr. plans a different strategy for the Rushaway on Saturday. “He’s got to be up close, somewhat in control of the pace. Not that he has to be on the lead, but forwardly placed.” Dean Sarvis will ride Warrior Within, who breezed four furlongs in :47.60 at Churchill Downs Training Center on Tuesday, second-fastest of 11 at the distance.
New Awakening aiming for Rushaway
After finishing third in the John Battaglia Memorial, New Awakening appears set for another big effort for trainer John Good. “He’s doing really well right now,” said Good. “He’s a tough little dude, a very hard tryer and an overachiever.” Casey Chavez, aboard in the Battaglia, retains the mount. Of Polytrack, Good said, “This is a great surface. I can’t ask for it to be any better. It helps the horses keep sound and I think it’s the wave of the future to some extent.”
In addition to the Grade II Lane’s End Stakes, the Grade III Bourbonette Breeders’ Cup, and the Rushaway Stakes, Saturday also offers the Hansel Stakes, a 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds, and the Queen Stakes, 6 furlongs for fillies and mares four years old and up.
Gates open on Saturday at 10 a.m. to accommodate some of the races simulcast from Dubai. First post is 1:10 p.m. Reserved tickets remain from $15 to $80. General admission is $10. For ticket information, call (859) 371-0200.