(Warrior’s Charge / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team:

Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables’ multiple stakes winner Warrior’s Charge tops a full field of 14 that were entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Ack Ack (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.

The one-mile Ack Ack, carded as Race 9 with a post time of 4:53 p.m., could serve as a prep for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile (GI) on Nov. 7 at Keeneland. First post Saturday is 12:45 p.m.

Trained by Brad Cox, Warrior’s Charge was elevated to first in last month’s Philip H. Iselin Stakes (GIII) at Monmouth after interference by Pirate’s Punch in the stretch. Warrior’s Charge, a 4-year-old son of Munnings, won the $500,000 Razorback (GIII) at Oaklawn earlier this year and finished second behind By My Standards in the $600,000Oaklawn Handicap (GII).

Jockey Florent Geroux will ride Warrior’s Charge in the Ack Ack from post No. 1.

Among the other rivals that entered Saturday’s affair include Don Tiger’s multiple graded stakes winner American Anthem; Calumet Farm’s 2019 Preakness (GI) runner-up Everfast; Allied Racing and Spendthrift Farm’s four-time Grade III hero Mr. Money; and Heads Up Racing and M and M Racing’s multiple stakes winner Pioneer Spirit.

In total, the Ack Ack field has combined for 65 wins and more than $6.94 million in purse earnings.

The complete field for the Ack Ack in order of post position (with jockey and trainer): Warrior’s Charge (Geroux, Cox); Bourbon Calling (Brian Hernandez Jr., Ian Wilkes); Proverb (Adam Beschizza, Richard Baltas); American Anthem (James Graham, Mike Maker); Mr. Money (Gabriel Saez, Bret Calhoun); Pioneer Spirit (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro); Alkhaatam (Declan Cannon, Danny Peitz); Ebben (Corey Lanerie, Steve Margolis); Bankit(Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen); Thirstforlife (Chris Landeros, Wes Hawley); Dinar(Rafael Bejarano, Cherie DeVaux); Home Base (Joe Rocco Jr., Mike Tomlinson); andEverfast (Julien Leparoux, Jack Sisterson).

(Maxfield / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

GRADE I WINNER MAXFIELD RETURNS TO TRAINING AT CHURCHILL DOWNS Godolphin’s undefeated homebred Maxfield, once considered a top contender for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby (Grade I), has returned to trainer Brendan Walsh’s barn at Churchill Downs after rehabbing a condylar fracture that removed him from Derby contention.

Maxfield, the Grade I-winning son of Street Sense, began light training last week at Churchill Downs after he missed about 90 days of training from a non-displaced lateral condylar fracture that he suffered June 10 at Keeneland. At the time, the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) and Matt Winn (GIII) winner was prepping for the July 11 Blue Grass Stakes (GII).

It’s been a trying few months for Walsh whose Derby dreams were dashed whenMaxfield was sidelined but last week he lost his close friend, champion Irish jockey Patrick Smullen to pancreatic cancer. Walsh, who grew up in Ireland, spent several years alongsideSmullen while working for Godolphin in Dubai.

“He’s gone way too soon, unfortunately,” Walsh said on “At the Races with Steve Byk.” “He was just a great guy. I’ve known Patrick for well over 20 years. We met in Dubai and he’d come out during the winter to ride. When he first came to Dubai I knew he was my kind of guy – with a quiet demeanor and was easy going. We’ve been the best of friends since.

“He always took a great interest about what was going on over here. He loved coming over here to ride. He loved our racing. He loved the Breeders’ Cup. He’d always ask about our jocks like Julien (Leparoux) and Johnny (Velazquez). He made a lot of friends over here and it was just the mark of the man of who he was. He was diagnosed a couple of years ago and the last couple of months he was very, very sick. We always talked and, on two occasions, he thought he had cancer beat. I have a text from him the other week and it was most positive text I got from him in the last couple of months. When I think about it, I think it was his way of telling people to not be upset. I think he knew his time was coming. He did some amazing things during the latter part of his life and helped raise more than $3 million for pancreatic cancer research. It was one of his proudest achievements. It was just another feather in the cap of the person he was.”

Smullen, who was a nine-time Irish champion jockey, never rode in any races for Walsh but spent vacation one winter in South Florida at Palm Meadows.

“He came over and galloped for a week one time in Palm Meadows,” Walsh said. “…He always loved it here It was on his bucket list to see the Derby. Unfortunately it didn’t materialize.”

Plans for Maxfield’s return to the races have not been finalized.

(Authentic / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

AUTHENTIC, THOUSAND WORDS SET TO BREEZE SATURDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Trainer Bob Baffert’s duo of Kentucky Derby winnerAuthentic and multiple graded stakes winner Thousand Words are set for their final breezes on Saturday before shipping to Maryland on Tuesday for the $1 million Preakness Stakes (GI) at Pimlico Race Course on Oct. 3.

The duo have been based with fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas since the Derby.

 MEET LEADERS – Entering the final five days of the September Meet, jockey Tyler Gaffalione held a 13-9 win margin over Ricardo Santana Jr. in the rider standings. FlorentGeroux and Gabriel Saez were tied for third with eight wins each. … Trainer SteveAsmussen held a two-win lead over Brad Cox 6-4. Mike Maker was third with five victories. … Rigney Racing’s three wins were atop the owner’s standings.

TV SCHEDULE – The September Meet will air daily on the Fox Sports family of networks. Here’s the day-by-day schedule:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 23: FS2 (12:30-5 p.m.)
  • Thursday, Sept. 24: FS2 (12:30-5:30 p.m.)
  • Friday, Sept. 25: FS2 (12:30-5:30 p.m.)
  • Saturday, Sept. 26: FS1 (12:30-1:30 p.m.), FS2 (1:30-8:30 p.m.)
  • Sunday, Sept. 27: FS2 (12:30-6 p.m.), FS1 (6-7 p.m.), FS2 (7-8 p.m.)

DOWN THE STRETCH – The final five days of the September Meet will run Wednesday-Sunday. First post each day is 12:45 p.m. … There was a $14,138 carryover in the 20-cent Single Six Jackpot that spanned Races 4-9 Wednesday. The Super Hi 5 stood at $3,254 in Race 9. Sunday will be a mandatory payout for all wagers. … “Inside Churchill Downs” will air Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPN 680/105.7. Those outside the Louisville area can listen on www.espnlouisville.com.