FRANKLIN, Ky. (Thursday, September 7, 2017) — Bullard’s Alley, second in last year’s $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Club, tries to go one better in Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Downs’ signature race.
Two-time Kentucky Turf Cup winner Da Big Hoss is on the shelf, but there is plenty of other competition in the 1 1/2-mile race. Starting with Da Big Hoss’ stablemates in the Mike Maker barn. That includes 3-1 race favorite Enterprising, 7-2 second choice Oscar Nominated, 5-1 fourth choice Taghleeb, with 30-1 St. Louie rounding out the Maker quartet. Maryland import, Arlington Park’s Grade 3 St. Leger winner Postulation, is 9-2 in the field of 12, with two others awaiting scratches to run.
Bullard’s Alley, a 12-1 shot who will be ridden by Marcelino Pedroza, is trying to win for the first time in 15 races since taking Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Louisville Handicap. But the 5-year-old gelding lost Keeneland’s Grade 3 Sycamore by a half-length and two races back lost Woodbine’s Singspiel by a neck. He was running well in Arlington’s St. Leger when Applicator attempted to bolt and knocked Bullard’s Alley out of his game with five-eighths of a mile left. He wound up fifth.
“He’s doing really well. He has been all this season,” said Churchill Downs-based trainer Tim Glyshaw. “Unfortunately he hasn’t won a race yet, but he’s been running in some really tough races. He ran a bang-up race when second in the SIngspiel. I really think up at Arlington in the St. Leger that he was going to win the race and (Applicator) made a right-hand turn and we almost clipped heels and went down. It basically cost us the race. The one thing we do know about Bullard is that, having run at Kentucky Downs before, he doesn’t mind running up and down. The course doesn’t seem to affect him.
“We’re pretty confident. Obviously it’s $600,000 and there are a ton of nice horses for that kind of money — there always will be. But we’re pretty confident because our horse like the course. That’s all you can ask going into a race like that.”
Bullard’s Alley’s schedule got off-kilter starting when he was stuck in quarantine in New Orleans because of an outbreak of equine herpes virus, forcing Glyshaw to run him in the Fair Grounds’ shorter turf stakes.
“It’s been a disappointment that he hasn’t won but it isn’t due to his effort,” Glyshaw said. “It’s just early on not getting in the right races due the circumstances, and then the latter, just bad racing luck. However often do you see a horse bolt at the 5 1/2-furlong pole?”
As an aside, that horse, Applicator, won Wednesday’s $400,000 Tourist Mile, though Applicator was running for only $200,000 because he was not registered as a Kentucky-bred.
Bullard’s Alley is a cool horse with a lot of personality, a barn favorite and just a bit spoiled. Why not? The $11,000 2-year-old purchase has earned $450,981.
“Poor guy. He’s not the brightest horse in the world,” Glyshaw said. “But he’s very loved in here. I think he knows he runs in big races. He’ll do everything he can. Fortunately and unfortunately, he’s running against some of the top long-distance runners in the United States…. He has white eyes and just does some things that aren’t too smart sometimes. But I tell you what, whenever you ask him to go, he will. Any he can run all day. If they had a bunch of two-mile races for him, that would be absolutely wonderful.”
Also in the field is Nessy, Bullard’s Alley’s full brother, with both horses being by Travers winner Flower Alley and out of the Kris S. mare Flower Forest. The Ian Wilkes-trained Nessy is 20-1 and ridden by Brian Hernandez. The 4-year-old gelding was second in Saratoga’s restricted John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles in his last start.
The brothers ran against each other in the 2017 Louisville Handicap, with big brother third in attempting to defend his 2016 title and Nessy sixth.
“He’s bred to go the distance,” Hernandez said. “He looks like he should be solid in there. Only tough thing for us is we drew the 12 hole. Normally here that doesn’t matter. But going a mile and a half here, it does because going around that first turn can get tricky.”
Said Wilkes: “He’s doing well. The horse has really improved. He’s coming back pretty quick. I’m wheeling him back in 15 days, but I think he’s a better horse now than he was earlier in the year.”
Etc.: Notable from today's racing
From The Downey Profile — The 2-year-old filly Downton Kitten taking the $140,000 entry-level allowance that went off as the fourth race Thursday marked the first time a horse who made its prior and only start at Haydock Park in England won a Kentucky Downs race. Downton Kitten, now trained by Lexington-based Eduardo Caramori, won a maiden race April 29 at Haydock.
We got the back story from Jeff Ramsey, whose family bred Downton Kitten and owned him at the time of the Haydock victory. Jeff Ramsey said his dad, Ken, sent several horses to England to sell after one of the yearlings went for $800,000 the year before. Downton Kitten — a son of the Ramseys’ stallion Kitten’s Joy and named for the TV show Downton Abbey — was among those who didn’t meet the reserve sales price, and the Ramseys elected to race the filly. She was sold after the victory and brought back to America.
Jon Court has won multiple riding titles at Kentucky Downs, but he was blanked the past two years. He broke out of that skein in style, winning Thursday’s $130,000 fifth race for 2-year-olds with the Vicki Oliver-trained 45-1 shot Over Thinking. In her only other start, Over Thinking was ninth at Ellis Park.
Over Thinking, who drew in off the also-eligible list to compete and broke from post 12 won by a half-length over Storm Runner while defeating males.
“I like this filly,” said Court, who last won a race at Kentucky Downs in 2013 after not riding there in 2014. “She didn’t have the best of form, but I knew she had it in her. I was confident in Vicki. The Olivers do a great job. She was running against the boys, today, so that was a bit of an alarm. But I think that also was part of the winning formula, so they did a good job. She ran a big race.”
Court said you have to forgive babies making mistakes in their early races. “You’ve got to give them a chance to learn and pick pieces up wherever they can,” he said. “This filly, she put it together late in the last race and finally got a grasp what she was doing, which put a big vote of confidence coming back to this race.”
Over Thinking galloped out strongly and was a handful to pull up. “I was telling the outriders, ‘Let me go. I want to bask in this glory. I beat the boys; she beat the boys,’” Court said. “I was loving on her. You’ve got to love it.”
Wednesday’s recap of the Tourist Mile had the wrong race that runner-up Flatlined could run in next. It’s the Commonwealth Turf Cup at Laurel.