Thorn Song tops Maker's Mark Mile
Zayat Stables and trainer Dale Romans hope to catch lightning in a bottle again when their six-year-old gray THORN SONG (Unbridled's Song) heads a field of seven in Friday's $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland. Six months ago at the 2008 Keeneland fall meet, the veteran scored a front-running victory as the 3-1 choice in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), and might be in line for another theft under Robby Albarado.
The Shadwell was the first victory at the top level for Thorn Song, whose previous major scores occurred over the Matt Winn turf course at Churchill Downs in the 2008 Firecracker H. (G2) and 2007 River City H. (G3). Thorn Song's post-Shadwell form left much to be desired, however, as he faded to ninth after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, then ran an uncharacteristic eighth in defense of his River City title.
The Maker's Mark has come up soft by Grade 1 standards. TWILIGHT METEOR (Smart Strike), whose 2008 campaign was limited to just two starts, returned to top form over the winter at Gulfstream Park, most recently notching the Canadian Turf S. (G3) by a length under John Velazquez, who is back aboard the Todd Pletcher charge. At age two in 2006, Twilight Meteor was second by a nose in an allowance over the Keeneland turf prior to taking the Bourbon S., which was switched from turf to Polytrack that year.
PASSAGER (Fr) (Anabaa), a close fifth in the Canadian Turf in his American debut, improved to finish third in the Appleton S. (G3) over the Gulfstream sod. The Roger Attfield pupil does have back class, having finished third by a neck in the 2007 Lockinge S. (Eng-G1) at Newbury, a race that included Ramonti, England's leading older miler that year.
JUST AS WELL (A.P. Indy), a close second to Kip Deville (Kipling) in the Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1) two back, was a disappointing seventh as the mild favorite in the Canadian Turf and is still searching for his first career stakes win. FLUKE (Brz) (Wild Event), a Group 3 winner in his native Brazil, recently passed his second allowance condition at Santa Anita for trainer Bobby Frankel. HOUSE OF SILVER (Chester House) and MR. SIDNEY (Storm Cat), meanwhile, are allowance caliber runners stepping up in class, though Mr. Sidney ran well to be a belated fourth in the Mac Diarmida S. (G2) last time.
Also on Friday's card is the $100,000 Fort Harrod S. at 1 5/8 miles on the main track, one of several races created in recent years as preparatory events for the Breeders' Cup Marathon. Breaking from the rail will be ROCKET LEGS (Dynaformer), who captured a first-level allowance over this track at the 2007 fall meet and later ran second in the 2008 San Luis Obispo H. (G2) on turf. He finished third in both of his outings at Santa Anita over the winter.
Chilean Group 1 winner KURBAT (Chi) (Mon Pote Le Gitan), an impressive winner at Laurel in his American debut, is back on six days' rest after finishing last in the Excelsior H. (G3) at Aqueduct. The Graham Motion charge stumbled badly at the start of the Excelsior and never fully recovered. ELECTRICITY (Storm Cat), a previous winner over the Keeneland Polytrack, could surprise for owner "Dinny" Phipps and trainer Shug McGaughey.
Another attraction on the Friday program will be the 3RD race, an entry-level allowance for three-year-olds which features HELLO BROADWAY (Broken Vow), the runner-up in the Nashua S. (G3) and Hutcheson S. (G2). However, trainer Barclay Tagg may yet scratch the colt from the 1 1/16-mile contest in favor of Saturday's Blue Grass S. (G1) or the Lexington S. (G2) on April 18.
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