Aikenite – The 4yo Dogwood Stable colorbearer will be making his third Breeders’ Cup appearance and 23rd career start for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a race Pletcher selected instead of the Dirt Mile.
“He ran a big race at Keeneland in the Phoenix going six furlongs,” Pletcher said of the final decision not to go back to the Dirt Mile. Aikenite, eighth in last year’s Dirt Mile, was beaten a nose in the Phoenix. “Even though it was on the synthetic, I think it sets him up nicely for this race.”
Aikenite made his first Cup appearance in the 2009 Juvenile at Santa Anita, finishing fifth. His record shows five wins, four seconds and three thirds in 22 starts for earnings of $776,635. Aikenite is still looking for his first Grade 1 victory. His lone victory at 6f came in his first start at 2 at Saratoga.
Javier Castellano, who was aboard for his third-place finish in the Forego at Saratoga two starts back, returns for the mount Saturday. Aikenite is 8-1 on the morning line.
Amazombie – The winner of Santa Anita’s Ancient Title Stakes arrived in Louisville late Tuesday morning and settled in at Churchill Downs shortly thereafter.
Apriority/Big Drama – Although defending champion Big Drama, the 5-2 favorite in the early line for the Sprint, is the one who gets the big publicity and generates the big buzz, trainer David Fawkes thinks it would be a big mistake to sell his other horse in the race short on Saturday even though Apriority is the longest shot on the morning line in the field of nine at 30-1.
“Both have a good chance to win,” he said. “Apriority doesn’t have as good a form as Big Drama, but he is a very, very nice horse.”
The two Florida-breds are owned by separate interests but that doesn’t pose a problem for Fawkes.
“I want to see both of them win. I’m rooting for both teams,” said Fawkes, who won his first Breeders’ Cup last year when Big Drama led gate-to-wire and captured the 2010 edition of the race at 5-1.
On Tuesday, Big Drama, owned and bred by Harold Queen, went out for a jog and Donald Dizney’s homebred Apriority galloped 1m under Celia Fawkes, David’s wife and top assistant.
Euroears – The 7yo California invader arrived at Churchill Downs Tuesday along with eight other horses trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert after hopping a Tex Sutton charter from California to Louisville. According to Baffert, Euroears will make a trip to the track Wednesday morning along with his stablemates.
The son of Langfuhr drew post 1 under jockey Rafael Bejarano in the Sprint and was assigned 4-1 odds on the morning line. No surprise, Baffert said racing strategy on Saturday will call for him to simply go to the lead.
“He's a fastball,” Baffert said of this fleet-footed runner. “It's like a pitcher who throws 100 miles an hour; if he tries to throw a curve he’s going to throw it into the grandstand. We’ve got speed, if we’ve got anything. It's pointless trying to rein him in.”
Force Freeze – The Sprint contender arrived from Monmouth Park on the same van as defending Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer late Monday night. Trainer Peter Walder reported that Force Freeze walked the shedrow Tuesday morning and was expected to jog Wednesday with regular rider Marcos Orneos in the saddle.
“He shipped in last night and got his feed about 11,” said Walder, whose girlfriend Diane Alvarado trains Eldaafer. “We just wanted to make it a nice, quiet, relaxing day for him today. He’ll jog tomorrow and gallop Thursday.”
Force Freeze, runner-up in the Vosburgh Stakes last time out, drew post 6 in the Sprint. Jockey John Velazquez has the mount on the 10-1 shot.
Giant Ryan –A winner in each of his last six starts, including victories in two Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win and You’re In’ races (the Smile Sprint at Calder and the Vosburgh at Belmont Park) Giant Ryan will try to stretch his streak to seven when starting from post two in Saturday’s Sprint.
Trained by Bisnath Parboo for owner and son Shivananda Parbhoo (father and son use different spellings of the family’s surname), the 5yo son of Freud has worked twice at Churchill Downs since arriving in mid-October, with his final work in advance of Saturday’s race on Oct. 26 (4f in 48 2/5).
“With him, it’s just maintenance; allowing him to feel the track and get familiar with the surface,” Shivananda Parbhoo said. “He’s the type of horse that doesn’t need much work in the morning. He doesn’t need to breeze in 46 or anything like that, even though he could if we wanted him to.”
Hamazing Destiny – Noting that he’s been very successful in the Breeders’ Cup Championships – “I’ve got 18 of ‘em [wins]” – trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent his Sprint prospect Hamazing Destiny around the track for a normal gallop.
Hamazing Destiny finished second in the 2010 Sprint behind Big Drama.
Jackson Bend – The Florida-bred colt galloped 1m under exercise rider Carlos Correa at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning after shipping from New York the day before.
Trainer Nick Zito surprised people on Monday when he entered Jackson Bend in the Sprint instead of the Dirt Mile.
“I talked to Bob Lapenta about it for a week,” Zito said. “We started adding everything up. The Dirt Mile didn’t come up as easy as we thought. I don’t mean easy; all Breeders’ Cup races are tough. Then we thought about the Sprint, and we said, ‘You know what, he is a sprinter. He has run his best races sprinting.’ We’d prefer seven-eighths of a mile, everybody knows, but this race gives him a chance to win an (Eclipse) championship.”
Jackson Bend is undefeated at 7f, the most recent in the Forego at Saratoga, before finishing a clear second behind Uncle Mo, the morning-line favorite for the Classic, in the Kelso Handicap at 1m last time out.
“He’s a little guy with a tremendous heart,” Zito said. “We all call him ‘Champ’ in the barn, so why not try to make him a champion on Breeders’ Cup Day?”
Corey Nakatani has the mount.