Keeneland Barn Notes: New Starter Is Announced For Opening of Fall Meet

(Keeneland / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Keeneland Media Team:

LIFELONG HORSEMAN SCOTT JORDAN
IS KEENELAND’S NEW HEAD STARTER

Today’s opening day of the Fall Meet marks the debut of head starter Scott Jordan, who fills a position at Keeneland made famous by the late Robert “Spec” Alexander.

Alexander, who died June 3 at age 80, had been Keeneland’s head starter since the 1980s. He was a widely respected horseman and a beloved ambassador for the track.

“He was an icon. He was always someone you looked up to,” said Jordan on a recent morning from the starting gate positioned at the 4½-furlong chute on the far side of the Keeneland Grandstand where he and his crew were working with horses during training hours.

Jordan, 48, brings significant credentials to Keeneland. The son of trainer Rick Jordan, he is from Central Ohio, rode Quarter Horses at 13 and was an exercise rider at Beulah Park while attending Otterbein University. Jordan started working on the starting gate at age 19 and spent time at Beulah and River Downs (now Belterra) before beginning at Churchill Downs in 1995.

He has been the head starter at Churchill since 2006 – during which time he often communicated with Alexander at Keeneland about sharing personnel – and also is the head starter at Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs.

Jordan lives in Dillsboro, Indiana – west of Cincinnati and 103 miles from Keeneland – where his wife, Janice, and daughter, Tara Matthias, operate Breakway Farms, a full-service Thoroughbred breeding operation that stands eight stallions. During the Fall Meet, Matthias is working with Keeneland Stall Manager Wayne Mogge.

He is excited to be at Keeneland.

“It’s a heck of an opportunity,” he said. “I’m only as good as those guys who work for me (pointing at the assistant starters at the starting gate). I put them in place, but they do all the work. They make me look good.”

TRAINERS DISCUSS ENTRANTS IN FALL STARS WEEKEND STAKES

Keeneland Racing Analyst Tom Leach talked to these trainers about their entrants in Fall Stars Weekend stakes:

Jack Sisterson on Lexitonian in today’s Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2), Bandua in Saturday’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and Vexatiousin Sunday’s Juddmonte Spinster (G1).

 

Mike Stidham on Micheline in today’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) and on approaching 2,000 career wins.

 

JEZEBEL’S KITTEN TOPS OVERFLOW FIELD
FOR JPMORGAN CHASE JESSAMINE

Ilium Stables’ Jezebel’s Kitten, a 4¾-length winner of the Exacta Systems Juvenile Turf Fillies at Kentucky Downs on Aug. 31, headlines a field of 14 2-year-old fillies and two also-eligibles entered Friday for the 29th running of the $200,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) for 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Scheduled as the seventh race on Wednesday’s eight-race program with a 4:24 p.m. ET post time, the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine is the 10thand final Breeders’ Cup Challenge race of the Fall Meet. The winner receives a fees-paid berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run at 1 mile on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.

Trained by Brad Cox, Jezebel’s Kitten won her debut going a mile on the grass at Ellis Park Aug. 10 and came back three weeks later to win at Kentucky Downs. Florent Geroux has the mount and will break from post position five.

The field for the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine, with riders and weights from the inside, is: Morning Gold (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118 pounds), Envied (Miguel Mena, 118), Fujairah (Julien Leparoux, 118), Indochine (John Velazquez, 118), Jezebel’s Kitten (Geroux, 120), SweetMelania (Jose Ortiz, 118), Takeitback (Jon Court, 118), Witez (Calvin Borel, 118), Diamond Sparkles (Tyler Gaffalione, 118),Soothsaying (James Graham, 118), Swanage (Javier Castellano, 118), High On Gin (Victor Espinoza, 118), Eye of a Soldier (Chris DeCarlo, 118), Ask Bailey (Corey Lanerie, 118). Also-eligibles: Lemon Scat (Channing Hill, 118), Hollee Peach (Ryan Gazader, 118).


IMPRIMIS TRIES TO COMPLETE SHAKERTOWN-WOODFORD DOUBLE

Trainer Joe Orseno had a plan mapped out to get Breeze Easy’s Imprimis to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, “and so far he is cooperating,” Orseno said Friday morning.

On Saturday, Imprimis will go postward in the $200,000 Woodford (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select and attempt to join Havelock(2013) and Silver Timber (2010) as the only horses to win the Shakertown (G2) and the Woodford in the same year. The Shakertown in the spring and Woodford are run at 5½ furlongs on the turf.

Orseno’s plan was to take Imprimis to Royal Ascot in England 10 weeks after the Shakertown, take another break before running in the $700,000 Runhappy Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs and then come here for the Woodford.

“I like to come up with a plan and work backward. It’s easier to manage,” said Orseno, whose most recent Breeders’ Cup starter came in the 2002 Classic (G1) with Macho Uno.

At Royal Ascot, Imprimis finished sixth behind Blue Point in the 5-furlong King’s Stand (G1).

“In hindsight, I probably should have waited four more days and run him in the (6-furlong) Diamond Jubilee (G1),” Orseno said. “Going 5 furlongs on the straight (jockey) Frankie (Dettori) said he was looking for a turn. In the Diamond Jubilee, nothing was closing on (the winner) and with Imprimis’ kick, I think he could have been third.”

At Kentucky Downs, Imprimis finished fourth after a troubled trip with Paco Lopez aboard.

“I should have had Paco go the lead,” Orseno said. “He got boxed in and had nowhere to go.”

Imprimis will break from post position three under Lopez in the Woodford.

“I think he needs to run in this and then the Breeders’ Cup would be his third off the layoff,” Orseno said. “I hope he shows up and I think he will.”

CHALON GOES FOR ELUSIVE GRADED STAKES SCORE
IN THOROUGHBRED CLUB OF AMERICA

Lael Stables’ Chalon takes another shot at graded-stakes success Saturday when she makes her third start in the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), a “Win and You’re In” race for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

Second in the TCA the past two years, Chalon last ran in Kentucky in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs when she was nipped at the wire by future champion Shamrock Rose.

“The main thing this year is to get a graded win with her,” trainer Arnaud Delacour said after Chalon returned to the barn following training this morning on the main track. “We mapped out a campaign similar to last year with a couple of graded stakes and some easier races in between.”

The TCA is run at 6 furlongs, a distance Delacour believes is better suited to Chalon than the 7-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

“I was happy she performed that well last year,” Delacour said. “She ran so well going seven-eighths, she obviously proved me wrong. It is doable. Everybody was saying, ‘You came so close to winning (the Breeders’ Cup)’ and I say, ‘I came so close to being third (finishing a neck ahead of Anonymity).’”

In her career, Chalon has finished second in seven graded stakes. Her first two runner-up finishes came here in the fall of 2017 with Peter Miller as her trainer for the TCA and the Raven Run (G2) two weeks later. Lael Stables purchased her at auction and in 2018 she went to Delacour.

A victory Saturday would not necessarily put Chalon back on the track to the Breeders’ Cup.

“I think this year’s race might be tougher with horses like Covfefe,” Delacour said. “It was easier to go to Churchill Downs last year and logistically Santa Anita would be different.”


UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES

$150,000 BUFFALO TRACE FRANKLIN COUNTY-G3 (Entries taken Sunday; race Friday, Oct. 11) – A Little Bit Me (trainer Richard Baltas), Beechwood Ella (IRE) (Patrick Biancone), Change of Control (Michelle Lovell), Girls Know Best (Eddie Kenneally), Miss Gossip (IRE) (Eduardo Caramori), Morticia (Rusty Arnold), Oleksandra (AUS) (Neil Drysdale), Take These Chains (IRE) (Ben Colebrook). Possible: Goldwood (Jorge Duarte Jr.), Ruby Notion (Darrin Miller), Violent Times (Ralph Nicks).

$500,000 QUEEN ELIZABETH II CHALLENGE CUP PRESENTED BY LANE’S END-G1 (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday Oct. 12) – Invited horses:  Café Americano (trainer Chad Brown), Cambier Parc (Brown), Carnival Colors (GB) (Mike Stidham), Castle Lady (IRE) (Henri-Alex Pantall), Kelsey’s Cross (Patrick Biancone), Lady Prancealot (IRE)  (Richard Baltas), Magnetic Charm (GB) (William Haggas), Maxim Rate (Simon Callaghan), Mucho Unusual (Tim Yakteen), Princesa Carolina (Kenny McPeek), Regal Glory (Brown), Varenka (Graham Motion).

 

JOCKEY AUTOGRAPH SIGNING RETURNS SATURDAY

One of Keeneland’s most popular events each race meet is the Jockey Autograph Signing, which benefits the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).

The Jockey Autograph Signing will be held Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET adjacent to the Keeneland Paddock.

Fans will be able to meet active and retired jockeys – including Hall of Famers, history makers and Keeneland favorites – and have items autographed to raise funds for the PDJF. The cost of autographs is $30 for a Keeneland hat, $20 for a Keeneland poster, $15 for jockey goggles, $10 for a jockey autograph book and $5 for each additional autographed item, with a limit of three per person.

Retired jockeys scheduled to appear include Gary Birzer, Mike Bryan, P.J. Cooksey, Jean Cruguet, Carl Faulconer, Sandy Hawley, Mike Manganello, Chris McCarron, Larry Melancon, John Oldham, Suzie Picou-Oldham, Mickey Solomone, Anthony Stephen, Kaoru Tsuchiya and Charlie Woods.

Meanwhile, fans can participate in a unique reunion of jockey siblings from England during the Jockey Q&A at 12:05 p.m. in the Paddock. Sophie Doyle, who recently scored her first Grade 1 victory with Street Band in the Cotillion at Parx, and her brother James Doyle, an internationally successful jockey, are scheduled to participate.

 

FALL MEET SPECIAL EVENTS

All Year

Official Keeneland Tours – A variety of guided walking tours showcase Keeneland’s Thoroughbred racing and sales operations. Click herefor more information.

Through March 2020

The Keeneland Library Presents “A Day in the Life: Volume I” – This new exhibit features the work of early Turf photographer John C. Hemment. The Keeneland Library is home to the largest known surviving body of work of Hemment, a photographer during the late 19th and early 20th century. A virtual counterpart of the Hemment exhibit is at keenelandlibrary.omeka.net/exhibits. Celebrating its 80thanniversary this year, the Library is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.

Friday, Oct. 4 – Opening Day – Fall Stars Weekend

The Hill – Keeneland’s official tailgate lot features a jumbo screen to watch live racing and football, wagering booths, live music, local food trucks and free shuttles to the Grandstand.

 

The Keeneland Shop presents a trunk show with Darren K. Moore and Milliners Corner with Christine A. Moore.

 

$200,000-guaranteed Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG.

 

Saturday, Oct. 5 – Fall Stars Weekend

 

Sunrise Trackside – Families, out-of-town guests, longtime Keeneland fans and others will enjoy spending a morning at the track before the races begin. Watch horses train over the track and enjoy Breakfast With the Works and trackside commentary (7-8:30 a.m.); children’s activities in the Kids Club Corner (7:30-9:30 a.m.); free guided tours of the grounds (7:30-10 a.m.) and a demonstration with Central Kentucky Riding for Hope in the Paddock (9 a.m.).

 

The Hill – Keeneland’s official tailgate lot features a jumbo screen to watch live racing and football, wagering booths, live music, local food trucks and free shuttles to the Grandstand. Saturdays include live Bluegrass music.

Jockey Autograph Signing – Fans will meet active and retired jockeys – including Hall of Famers, history makers and Keeneland favorites – in this fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. The cost of autographs is $30 for a Keeneland hat, $20 for a Keeneland poster, $15 for jockey goggles, $10 for a jockey autograph book and $5 for each additional autographed item, with a limit of three per person. Retired jockeys scheduled to appear include Gary Birzer, Mike Bryan, P.J. Cooksey, Jean Cruguet, Carl Faulconer, Sandy Hawley, Mike Manganello, Chris McCarron, Larry Melancon, John Oldham, Suzie Picou-Oldham, Mickey Solomone, Anthony Stephen, Kaoru Tsuchiya and Charlie Woods. 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. adjacent to the Keeneland Paddock.

Jockey Q&A – Meet sibling jockeys Sophie Doyle and James Doyle at 12:05 p.m. in the Keeneland Paddock.


The Keeneland Shop
presents a trunk show with Darren K. Moore and Milliners Corner with Christine A. Moore.

 

$300,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Five and $400,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four.

 

Sunday, Oct. 6 – Fall Stars Weekend

The Keeneland Shop presents a trunk show with Darren K. Moore and Milliners Corner with Christine A. Moore.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

More From The Pressbox Staff