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Ball family already part of Lane's End history

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:00 AM
  • Spiral Stakes

FLORENCE, KY . . . March 17, 2009 . . . Although most of the Lane's End field will have journeyed to Turfway Park from all parts of the country, Saturday's race is a veritable home game for Parade Clown. The son of Distorted Humor made his last four starts in Florence, never finishing worse than second, including a fine runner-up finish in the February 28 John Battaglia Memorial, the traditional local prep for the Lane's End.

"In the Battaglia, he was aggressive, ended up five-wide around the first turn, and still got beat just a length," said Parade Clown's trainer Katherine (K. K.) Ball. "That was frustrating, but he still was finishing at the end."

In addition to the local angle, family and historical ties connect Parade Clown to the Lane's End Stakes. Ball trains Parade Clown for her in-laws, Don and Mira Ball of Donamire Farm. Don Ball won this race as a trainer for Donamire Farm in 1975 when he saddled Ambassador’s Image to capture one of two divisions of the race, known then as the Spiral Stakes. Back then the victory meant the lion's share of a $25,000 purse—20 times less than the value of this year's renewal. When it came time to decide whether to run Parade Clown in the Lane's End or in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes, it was a family decision.

"I've been watching the preps," said Katherine. "Most of these 3-year-olds are lightly raced, and they're changing. He's already run against most of the horses in the Rushaway, so we wanted to try for the big race."

Lane's End contestants had better lace up their running shoes if they plan to wrest the early lead from Louisiana shipper Orthodox. The son of Pulpit, trained and co-owned by John Glenney, has gone straight to the early lead in each of his last four races, including a wire-to-wire score last time out in a Fair Grounds allowance turf event.

"He can rate if need be," said Glenney, "but I like that he is a proven frontrunner because usually people will then just give him the lead. Of course, we're not going to want to get involved in any suicidal speed duels, but I do expect him to rush out there and go straight to the front."

Orthodox's two career wins have come over the turf and he was third and fifth in his only two all-weather efforts, both at Del Mar last year. Yet Glenney is bullish about his horse's ability to handle the Turfway Polytrack.

"He's trained on Polytrack extensively and raced on it a couple of times," he said. "It just happened that his two races over it took place at a time when he was just starting to come around. I think he's probably as good on Polytrack as on grass. If he doesn't do well on Saturday, we can always go back to the turf. If he does do well, then it opens up a lot of intriguing options for us."

Orthodox shipped yesterday from New Orleans to Keeneland. He will be vanned from Keeneland to Turfway Park on the morning of the Lane's End.

If all goes according to plan for trainer Kelly Breen, West Side Bernie will go straight from Saturday’s Lane's End Stakes to the Kentucky Derby. "I think his running well at Delta Downs in the million-dollar race [Delta Downs Jackpot on December 5] gave him enough earnings that I could take my time with him. His next race for me would be the Kentucky Derby. I would not run him again. I would save him, and I think that would help him. I'm looking for him to run a big race on Saturday. He's matured a lot. He's more focused now. He's running straight. He's run enough already against the elite horses that I'd say he belongs in the Derby."

One prospect Breen is not thrilled about is the possibility of an outside post. "If, God forbid, we drew 12 out of 12, we'd have to consider what to do. Part of why we came here is because Gulfstream Park has been speed biased at a mile and an eighth. But we're here. I think we're going to be the favorite or one of the favorites. We're here to win."

Michael Maker, trainer of Jack Spratt, clearly disagrees with Breen on Turfway Park post position philosophy. "I'm actually hoping for an outside draw," said Maker, who has won with 41 percent of his starters at the current Turfway meeting. "Don't get me wrong; the best horse can win from down inside. But I think the best place to be is stalking from the middle or outside."

Maker also parts ways with Breen in terms of future plans for his Lane's End entrant. Maker feels Jack Spratt was simply overpowered on the dirt last time out in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on February 28. He feels his horse's future is on all-weather racing surfaces. "If it was all up to me, if we were fortunate enough to win the Lane’s End I’d have no illusions about going on to the Derby," Maker said.

Maker readily admits, however, that such issues are the domain of Jack Spratt's owners, Sand Dollar Stable and Skychai Racing, and that Derby Fever can infect even the heartiest of constitutions. Still, Maker is not looking at all past the Lane's End for now. "In my eyes, I think Saturday is our Kentucky Derby."

And as far as Saturday is concerned, Maker sees a lot to like with Jack Spratt. "I like the fact that he has run well over the track at Turfway [second in a maiden race on September 19]. He wasn't always the most mature horse, but he's gotten better. He raced well against Bittel Road [as a maiden in the Grade III Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland on October 5], so I think he fits with Bittel Road and West Side Bernie."

Among others intended for the Lane's End, Bill Mott trainee Hold Me Back and Kiaran McLaughlin trainee A. P. Cardinal both are expected to arrive at Turfway from Florida on Thursday. Mott also plans to bring J Z Warrior for the Queen Stakes, a sprint for older fillies and mares, and McLaughlin has Fitz Just Right in the Bourbonette.

Rushaway news
Jimmy Baker has withdrawn Gresham and Bill Denzik has withdrawn Dookie Duck from consideration for the Rushaway Stakes, reported Stakes Coordinator Tia Borgemenke. Tom Proctor trainee No Inflation arrived Sunday to prepare for the Rushaway.

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