The Brock Talk

Friday, June 12, 2009

Smart Money Will Be On Einstein

Today Einstein (BRZ) will try to become the first horse to ever win a grade 1 race on three different surfaces in the same year when he goes in the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. After winning the Santa Anita Handicap on Santa Anita's pro-ride track in March and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs May 2, he tries for the surface trifecta on natural dirt today in the Foster.

One might be hesitant to give significant credit for this feat considering that artificial surfaces have not been widely in place until recent years when the Southern California tracks; Keeneland and Turfway Park in Kentucky; and Woodbine near Toronto installed them. But I had to go back pretty far to the likes of Perrault (GB) and John Henry in the early 1980s before I could think of a great horse that consistently won on turf and dirt repeatedly in grade 1 races. There's undoubtably some that I may have missed in the last 30 years, I'm sure, but not many I'll bet.

This race should also be of interest to the more casual fan because it will likely play a significant role in defining who your Triple Crown favorite might face in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in early November.

The connections of Mine That Bird have announced that the Kentucky Derby winner will be making his next start in the grade 2 West Virginia Derby on August 1 at Mountaineer Park. Trainer Chip Woolley Jr., and co-owners Dr. Leornard Blach and Mark Allen have selected the West Virgina race over two other grade 1 races the same weekend for 3-year-olds. The more traditional and prestigious races are the grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 1 and the grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey the following day.

The reason: "“The West Virginia Derby fits our schedule the best and that’s the main thing,” Woolley said.


Woolley also said the grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga in late August and the Breeders' Cup Classic are their long-term targets. Mine That Bird will continue to train at his base at Churchill Downs until he makes the short van ride to West Virginia just before the West Virginia Derby.

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