California Flag – The son of Avenue of Flags is “ready as he’s going to be,” according to trainer Brian Koriner. He walked the shedrow Friday morning.
The California-bred 7yo has run 20 of his 24 races in his home state and is accustomed to firm footing under him, but Thursday’s rain in Louisville all but assured some degree of “give” to the grass course. How will the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner (at Santa Anita) handle the going?
“Well, I guess we’ll find out,” said Koriner. “They’re all going to be running over the same ground, so we’ll just see.”
Caracortado – The Turf Sprint morning-line second choice at odds of 4-1 finished his preparations for Saturday’s race on Friday morning prior to the renovation break by jogging 1m on the muddy main track as trainer, breeder and part owner Mike Machowsky looked on.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “He’s eating good and feeling good. He’s got a presence about him now. Tomorrow, he just walks.”
The 4yo gelding by Cat Dreams will be making the 18th start of his career in the Turf Sprint and his eighth on grass.
“One of the things I like about him is that he’s so versatile,” Machowsky said. “He runs on grass, synthetic and dirt, and he’s won on them all. He’s run short and he’s run long, and he’s won both ways. He’s easy to like.”
Hoofit – The 4yo New Zealand-bred gelding jogged 1m under exercise rider Muffy Trimmer Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Graham Motion has adopted a wait-and-see attitude about Hoofit’s ability to handle less than firm turf should the Churchill course fail to firm up by post time for the Turf Sprint (3:21 p.m.).
“I don’t know why his form is improved so dramatically, I don’t know if he ran on softer turf in New Zealand and he didn’t like it. It’s a little bit of an unknown for me,” said Motion, whose Turf Sprint contender won only two of 16 starts in New Zealand before capturing both of his starts in the U.S., both coming on synthetic surfaces.
Regally Ready – Vinery Stables’ 4yo gelded son of More Than Ready won four consecutive races this year, but following a three-month freshening he lost back-to-back races as the favorite. He bounced back with a win in the Nearctic, and is “back on track” according to trainer Steve Asmussen.
“He’s coming back off three weeks rest and a very nice win,” Asmussen said. “He’s doing well, and we expect him to run his race.”
Jockey Corey Nakatani, who has ridden the Turf Sprint runner in six of his last seven starts, will be aboard again on Saturday.