LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Macho Again had his final workout in preparation of his defense of the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap when he breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 with regular rider Robby Albarado aboard Friday morning at Churchill Downs.
Macho Again is one of at least six older horses expected to run next Saturday, June 12, in the $600,000 Foster.
Macho Again rallied to win the 2009 Foster last June before being beaten a head by Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward two races later. Since then, the Dallas Stewart-trained gray has been in mediocre form, having finished a dull seventh in his lone start at 5, the Alysheba at Churchill on the April 30 Kentucky Oaks undercard.
"I'm sure he needed that race," Stewart said. "The pace was slow, and after he ran up there to them, he got pretty tired. We're hoping he'll benefit from the race and run a lot better next weekend."
Blame, scheduled to work Sunday at Keeneland, is the likely favorite for the 1 1/8-mile Foster, unless Rachel Alexandra runs. The connections of the 2009 Horse of the Year have said they intend to run her next Saturday in one of four possible spots, but the Foster seems a remote possibility.
Other likely starters for the Foster are Arson Squad, Battle Plan, General Quarters, and Giant Oak. In addition, trainer David Fawkes has informed Churchill officials he likely would send Duke of Mischief from Florida if Rachel Alexandra is not in the race. Weight assignments were to be released Saturday.
The Foster is the centerpiece of a Saturday card that also will feature four other graded races, including the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap, a filly-mare race that is one of the possible races for Rachel Alexandra.
Possible prep for Mine That Bird
Now that D. Wayne Lukas has zeroed in on the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga as his main immediate goal for 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, the Hall of Fame trainer is looking for a possible prep race for the 4-year-old gelding.
"I don't necessarily have to run him anywhere before the Whitney, because he's not short on seasoning, but ideally, a prep race would be nice," Lukas said.
The final condition book for the Churchill spring meet reveals what appears to be a perfect comeback spot: the eighth race on July 3, a $58,800 classified allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Lukas, who took over the training of Mine That Bird last month, said he would consider that race "if I think he's fit enough by then. Otherwise, we'd probably be taking a look at something a little after then at Belmont Park."
Mine That Bird, unraced since November, has had two workouts at Churchill since arriving here May 20. Lukas said he has been extremely impressed with the gelding, who worked on Wednesday.
"He didn't even break a sweat under the saddlepad in that last work," Lukas said. "One thing I've really noticed is his tremendous lung capacity."