Alpha – The runner-up to Union Rags in Belmont Park’s Champagne last month arrived at Churchill Downs early Tuesday morning by van from Belmont.
“He got in at about 4,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He’ll go to the track tomorrow.”
Alpha drew post 9 with jockey Garrett Gomez. McLaughlin says the colt can be more forwardly placed than he was last time out in the Champagne, a race in which Alpha surprisingly dropped back to last place in the early stages.
“He didn’t break well and having him that far back was something we obviously didn’t want to happen,” McLaughlin said. “I hope he breaks better and is a lot closer. I really think he’ll improve off the Champagne. I’m hoping he’ll improve a good seven lengths.”
Creative Cause – The winner of three of four lifetime starts and ranked as second choice in the Juvenile at 7-2 on the morning line arrived in Louisville late Tuesday morning from California and settled into his Churchill Downs stall shortly afterward.
Trainer Mike Harrington, who preceded the colt to Louisville, said his 2yo will go to the track to train Wednesday morning.
Dullahan – Trainer Dale Romans couldn’t be happier with his Breeders’ Futurity winner as he progresses toward his start Saturday.
“He’s never trained better,” said Romans.
When asked about the final decision to run the Even the Score colt in the Juvenile versus the Juvenile Turf, Romans said it came down to the distance of the race.
“If the Juvenile Turf had been longer than a mile, we may have thought harder about it, but he’s a horse that wants more ground (and the Juvenile is 1 1/16m). Plus, he’s training well on the dirt and a win here sets him up to be champion 2-year-old. There will be plenty of time to run him on the turf next year.”
Fort Loudon – After completing a sweep of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder, Fort Loudon will make his Graded stakes debut in the Juvenile in which he has drawn post 12 for trainer Stan Gold, who won the Juvenile Fillies last year with Awesome Feather.
“I’d rather be outside than in and not have to worry about getting crunched down on the inside,” Gold said. “And he has tactical speed, so he should have no problem getting out and finding his spot early.”
After going winless in his first three starts at Calder, Fort Loudon has been unbeaten since and will enter Saturday’s race on a four-race winning streak, having rolled through the three-race Florida Stallion Stakes series unscathed.
“He’s been getting smarter and stronger as he matures and he will let the rider tell him what to do,” Gold said. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a little immature; he’s still out there playing around some. But he looks the part and acts the part and I’m excited to give him a chance against the best.”
Fort Loudon had his final work at Calder on Oct. 26 (5f in 1:02 2/5) and will gallop up to Saturday’s race.
Hansen – For most of the summer, this Juvenile contender was one of trainer Mike Maker’s favorites, but he had no idea what to call the homebred son of Tapit.
“Dr. Kendall Hansen has owned horses with me for a year and a half now, and he bred this colt,” Maker explained. “I remember talking to him on the phone and telling him that this horse could be a superstar and that he was closer to being ready to run. He needed a name. He had brought up naming a horse after himself before, and this was the right opportunity to do that.”
An undisclosed percentage of Hansen was recently purchased by Skychai Racing of Dr. Harvey Diamond and Jim Shircliff, who earlier this year ran second in the Blue Grass at Keeneland with Twinspired.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez will get his first try aboard Hansen on Saturday.
Optimizer – The 2yo prospect galloped Tuesday morning over the Churchill Downs strip as he moved closer to Saturday’s Juvenile.
Prospective – The Grey Stakes winner at Woodbine galloped for 1 ˝m and schooled at the gate on Tuesday morning. He is scheduled for another lesson at the gate Wednesday and then will be schooled in the paddock during the fourth race on Wednesday afternoon.
Norman Casse, top assistant to his father Mark, said that all is right on schedule with the 2yo son of Malibu Moon.
Prospective is one of two horses owned by John Oxley and trained by Casse who are running in this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Northern Passion will contest the Juvenile Fillies on Friday.
Take Charge Indy – Trainer Pat Byrne, who won the 1997 Juvenile with the undefeated Favorite Trick, was very pleased with his latest 2yo standout as he watched him cool out from a 1 1/2m gallop.
Despite having made his first three career starts on synthetic surfaces, Byrne is confident that the son of 1992 Classic winner A.P. Indy out of multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady will handle his first start on dirt.
“He’s had two good works over the track since his last race,” said Byrne. “He seems to be moving very well over the track. We’ve had this race as our main goal all along and hopefully can get back here in the spring (for the Derby). He has the pedigree, he has the physical ability and his mind is good.”
Union Rags – The 2-1 morning line favorite got acquainted with the Churchill Downs paddock and track for the first time since arriving from his Maryland base at Fair Hill training center. With assistant trainer Peter Brette on board and trainer Michael Matz close by on a pony, Union Rags visited the paddock and then galloped 1 ˝m.
“He didn’t do any training yesterday since he was traveling, so he was a little fresh this morning. He looks good,” Matz said. “He’s just been a dream to train. He’s got everything you’d want in a racehorse. He’s fast, he finds a way to get out of trouble and he’s got a great mind. He came out of his last race (a win in the Champagne Stakes) great. We took him back to Fair Hill that night and he ate right up. The next morning he was looking for me.”