By J.J. Hysell
Almost Famous, a disappointing fourth in the Street Sense Stakes after his impressive debut win at Churchill Downs, will return off of a short rest sporting an equipment change.
The son of Unbridled’s Song, who set the early pace but faded in that mile test on Oct. 27, will add blinkers for the allowance optional claiming race at 1 1/16-miles on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Trainer Pat Byrne said Almost Famous emerged from the Street Sense fine, but a change was in order because of his immaturity.
“He just didn’t focus,” Byrne said in the Churchill Downs press notes. “He just kind of goofed around there. I gave him a day off, took him back to the track and galloped him with blinkers on and I think the blinks are the way to go.”
Almost Famous, owned by Sandford Racing, worked sharply his first time wearing blinkers, going three furlongs in :35.40 on the Churchill surface on Nov. 2.
The dark bay colt turned heads with his sharp debut win with jockey Calvin Borel on Sept. 13. He won the six-furlong test easily in front-running fashion in 1:10.90.
Corey Lanerie will be aboard Saturday as Borel is sidelined with an injury.
A strong field of 10, including a coupled entry from trainer Bill Mott, is slated to contest race 7. The Al Stall-trained Purple Sky is also one to watch after his late-closing win over the Churchill track in his second start. The son of Pulpit was third to the well-regarded Honor Code on a sloppy track in his debut.
Dobra Historia, one of Mott’s entries, improved with the switch to Keeneland synthetic and the stretch out to 1 1/16-miles. The son of Unbridled’s Song switches from Rosie Napravnik to Julien Leparoux, who recently returned to Kentucky after being based in California.
Napravnik stays with Plug Catcher, a son of Roman Ruler who appreciated the sloppy Churchill surface in his debut on Sept. 20. The Bret Calhoun trainee has twice worked at six furlongs in preparation for the increased distance.
Arctic Slope, a closing third over the soaked Keeneland synthetic in the Breeders’ Futurity, was boosted by the win Thursday of Chas’s Legacy at Churchill Downs. This Kenny McPeek trainee, a son of Van Nistelrooy, beat him in his maiden-breaking win over this surface and at this distance on Sept. 14.
Myositis Dan’s win at Keeneland is more impressive than it appears on paper. The son of Istan gained a stalking position from a wide 10-post and won handily. If weather cooperates, the Tom Proctor trainee will see his first fast dirt track Saturday.
Matuszak, the other Mott entry, won his debut from far off the pace on this surface in an off-turf event at this distance. He didn’t fare as well at Keeneland, but the son of Bernardini didn’t appear to take to the synthetic surface. Jockey Leandro Goncalves will be aboard for the first time.