Asmussen not celebrating yet
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- After sending out eight winners in a three-day span at Churchill Downs last weekend, it would seem easy for Steve Asmussen to win 11 more over the next three weeks. That's the number Asmussen needs to break the record for most wins at a Churchill spring meet.
But Asmussen himself is doubtful it can happen.
"We've used a lot of bullets," he said between races Wednesday, "although I guess we could do it, if enough of our races go. We've got enough horses to run."
Into Wednesday action, and with 14 of 52 days remaining at a meet that ends July 3, Asmussen had won 33 races, 10 fewer than the record set last spring by Dale Romans. Asmussen, whose 555 winners in 2004 set a North American record, said he is not necessarily intent on breaking the Churchill mark and will not go far out of his way to do so, but "it'd be nice."
Meanwhile, Curlin, the undisputed star of the Asmussen stable, soon will have his first workout since he ran second in the June 9 Belmont Stakes.
"It will be no earlier than June 25, and no later than July 1," said Asmussen. Curlin will run next in the Aug. 5 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
Riders raise funds for schoolgirl
Churchill jockeys Calvin Borel and Robby Albarado have shared in the riches they amassed during the latest Triple Crown series by making donations on behalf of a 7-year-old Kentucky girl in need of a heart transplant.
Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby on Street Sense, and Albarado, winner of the Preakness on Curlin, are among the jockeys who have made contributions to help pay for surgery for Kailah Page, who lives in the northern Kentucky town of Hebron. Kailah suffers from restrictive cardiomyopathy and is in imminent need of a new heart. She will be a second-grader next year at Burlington Elementary.
Maci Riecken, a fourth-grader at Burlington, reached out to Churchill jockeys when fund-raising began for Page. Maci's father is Bruce Riecken, a trainer based primarily at Turfway Park.
"We are absolutely thrilled with the generosity and support that Calvin, Robby, and all the Churchill jockeys have shown toward Kailah's cause," said Jennifer Adams, who heads the school's family resource center and has helped to coordinate other fund-raising activities for Kailah.
More information is available through the school at 859-334-4440.
Torch to make appearance
With the Senior Olympics being held in Louisville starting this weekend, the obligatory torch run leading to ceremonies to start the games will end in the Churchill winner's circle Saturday. The torch will arrive on the Belle of Louisville on the Ohio River, then be carried by various local celebrities and officials on its way to Churchill. The Senior Olympics is the first of its kind and has attracted some 12,000 athletes in a variety of sports.
This won't be the first time a ceremonial torch is carried through Churchill. In 1996, to great fanfare, Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day was the torchbearer of the Olympic flame as it made its way through the United States to Atlanta.
* Spin Master, winner of the Matt Winn Stakes last month, will run next in the July 4 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes at Monmouth, according to trainer Dale Romans. Spin Master has had two workouts since his explosive 2 3/4-length triumph in the six-furlong Matt Winn and was scheduled for one more before departing for New Jersey.
* Dominican, the Blue Grass Stakes winner who bled while finishing 11th in the May 5 Kentucky Derby, has returned to serious training after getting a few weeks off. Dominican breezed three furlongs here Monday, going in 36.40 seconds over a fast track. An earner of nearly $500,000 for owner Silverton Hill Farm and trainer Darrin Miller, Dominican could make his next start at Arlington next month, said Miller.
* Brilliant, the Neil Howard-trained turf standout who was beaten a nose in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in his last start, looms the likely favorite for the next Churchill stakes, the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup June 30. Brilliant was scheduled to work this weekend for the $250,000 Firecracker, a one-mile turf race.
* In lieu of a stakes race, three straight allowance races have been carded for Saturday at Churchill, with a $65,000 sprint for 3-year-old fillies being the richest of those. The allowances are the eighth, ninth, and 10th on the 11-race program.