Thursday, December 29, 2005 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 29, 2005 . . . The end of the year may be the beginning of a new start for Fire Slam, entered in Saturday’s Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park. Just days before his fifth birthday, Fire Slam will look for a return to the form he showed at three, when he won back-to-back-to-back stakes, including the Grade II Riva Ridge Breeders’ Cup.
Trained now by Rebecca Maker, Fire Slam has been off since August, when he posted his third consecutive sixth-place effort. He has been training well over Polytrack at Turfway throughout December, including a bullet work, and will wear blinkers for the Holiday Cheer. Though he may need the race off the layoff, Fire Slam has the style to win, and he gets the benefit of leading rider Jesus Castanon.
Proven sprinter Private Horde returns to his favorite track for the six-furlong Holiday Cheer. Trained throughout his career by Joe Cain, Private Horde has 14 lifetime starts at Turfway and has won half, including three stakes. Running steadily this year, the six-year-old has been in the money eight of 11 starts in 2005, including two wins. Neither of those came on Polytrack—he finished sixth in his only race at Turfway since the surface was installed—but he worked well over the surface earlier this week. Jason Lumpkins is back in town to ride.
Both Private Horde and Saintly Look get their second crack at the Holiday Cheer this year. The pair finished second and third, respectively, when a twist of the calendar landed the last running on January 1, 2005. Saintly Look has lately been running for a high-priced tag but has acquitted himself well, winning his last race at Churchill with a big closing move. Trainer Jeff Talley brought him to Turfway for a work over Polytrack earlier this month. Rafael Mojica Jr. rides.
Leading apprentice Julien Leparoux will try to get his second Turfway win on Australian-bred Overlord. Trained by Patrick Biancone, Overlord broke his maiden at first asking and followed with a third-place handicap finish, both on the turf and both in Australia. He won his first start in the U.S., an allowance race at Turfway, two weeks ago.
Completing the 12-horse field for the Holiday Cheer are Muna (jockey Juan Molina Jr.); Catlaunch (Hector Rosario Jr.); Yucatan (Scott Spieth); Slew’s Saga (Bill Troilo); City Rapid (Eddie Zuniga); My Lord (Dean Sarvis); Montstar (Willie Martinez); and Sgt. Bert (Fabio Arguello Jr.).
First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m.