Walsh Prepares Four For Kentucky Downs Previews At Ellis Park

Trainer Brendan Walsh hopes to use the $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Turf Sprint as a stepping stone for Born Great to compete in the compact meet at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky. Born Great proved last year that he relished that undulating surface by winning not once, but twice. Though not unprecedented, it is rare for horses to race more than once at Kentucky Downs’ short all-turf meet. Born Great did so with great success, knocking out a maiden victory that he followed with an allowance score a week later.

Born Great in his last start finished second by a neck in a Churchill Downs turf sprint won by graded-stakes winner Angaston.

“He’s doing great,” Walsh said. “We’ll see how it goes, but hopefully it will set him up good for Kentucky Downs. He really liked it there last year. He might be as good this year as last, if not better. He ran a really good race at the end of the Churchill spring meet and was very unlucky. Five-and-a-half (furlongs) is probably as short as he would want. But the 6 1/2 at Kentucky Downs set him really well last year.

“But this is a tough race. There are two or three really nice horses in there. It’s a good race.”

Walsh also has Ethical Judgement in Saturday’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Dueling Grounds Derby, Amazima in Sunday’s $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Ladies Sprint, and the 4-year-old filly Family Way taking on the boys in the $125,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Turf Cup.

Ethical Judgement gets back to turf for the first time since he was second in his first race. He ran well in three starts rained off the turf before finishing fifth in the Ohio Derby at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, the same distance as the Preview Dueling Grounds Derby.

“He seems to be good on the dirt as well,” Walsh said. “But he’s another one we’d like to try him back on the grass. And if that worked well, maybe he’d be a horse for the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs.”

Amazima did not run well over Arlington Park’s Polytrack in the Grade 3 Matron Stakes. But before that, she was a good third in a turf sprint after shortening up in distance.

Family Way ran seventh in Arlington’s Grade 3 Modesty at 1 3/16 miles on turf after having a win and a second in two allowance starts since arriving from France.

“Why not?” the Irish-born Walsh said of taking on males. “In Europe, we do it all the time. The distance is what I really like about it. The mile and a quarter would really hit her right between the eyes. There isn’t a whole lot around that distance.”

Walsh is a big fan of Ellis’ Kentucky Downs Preview series.

“We’ve got a barn at Ellis, so we don’t have to go too far to run,” he said. “They’re nice prep races for Kentucky Downs.”

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Walsh will saddle the 4-year-old Maxfield in Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Maxfield, who is 4, never ran at Ellis Park but spent all summer of his 2-year-old season training at the Pea Patch before launching his career at Churchill Downs. The Whitney’s field of five is composed of all Kentucky-based horses, including Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Knicks Go and By My Standards, owned by Chester Thomas of Madisonville. The 5-year-old Knicks Go broke his maiden at Ellis Park and finished second the next year in the Ellis Park Derby.

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