‘Light At The End Of The Tunnel’: Training Resumes At Churchill Downs Wednesday

With a steady rain falling at 5:29 a.m. (all times Eastern), Churchill Downs’ outrider Lee Lockwood spoke on the track radio with the words so many people have been anticipating, “We are open for business. Gap Attendants, you can open the track.”

And, a few seconds later, training resumed at Churchill Downs for the first time in more than five months. The first horse on the racetrack was Kentucky Derby (Grade I) contender Major Fed for trainer Greg Foley, who arrived from Fair Grounds on Monday. Several other horses were out early Wednesday morning from trainers Steve Asmussen, Jimmy Baker, Phil Bauer, Buff Bradley, Bret Calhoun, Mark Casse, Brad Cox, Neil Howard, Michelle Lovell and Dallas Stewart.

“It’s a relief to be home,” said Lovell, who lives a stone’s throw away from the Churchill Downs backside but has traveled the last six weeks to Lexington’s Ashbrook Farm where she moved her horses from Fair Grounds. “It was tough traveling back and forth every day to Lexington but we got through it and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Like many trainers, Lovell has gone through some financial hardships without racing in Kentucky for nearly six weeks. The former jockey has two horses entered for Saturday’s opening day program: Nice of Me (Race 3) and Miss Bigly (Race 4).

“It’s been tough on us all but we are so thankful racing is back at Churchill Downs,” Lovell said.

Horses from Florida began to arrive Wednesday at Churchill Downs and as of 11 a.m. there were more than 500 horses on the grounds. The phased-shipping process will continue through next week.

First post for opening day on Saturday is 1 p.m. and among the highlights of the card will be the return of champion Monomoy Girl in Race 4 (2:32 p.m.). The Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) hero was among 14 horses that arrived Tuesday for Cox. Among the other horses arriving for Cox were stakes winners Dot Matrix and Factor This.

Other top horses currently based on the grounds include likely $500,000 Stephen Foster (GII) contender By My Standards, multiple graded stakes winner Spiced Perfection and potential future star Volatile, who earned a stout 120 Brisnet Speed Rating for his sizzling 7 ½-length allowance win on April 24 at Oaklawn where he stopped the clock in 1:08.48 for six furlongs.

Training hours through Friday will be 5:30–9 a.m. with a renovation break at 7 a.m. On Saturday, training will switch to 5:30–10 a.m. with two renovation breaks at 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Weather permitting, turf training will be on Sundays and Tuesdays. Gate schooling will operate 7:30-9:30 a.m. (except Tuesdays).

The post ‘Light At The End Of The Tunnel’: Training Resumes At Churchill Downs Wednesday appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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