HENDERSON, Ky. (Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017) — Trainer Greg Foley has won his last three starts at Ellis Park as his stable heads into Friday’s card, for which he has two horses entered.
Foley’s streak started in Saturday’s last race with May Lily winning a $40,000 maiden race by a neck over favored Aircraft Carrier, then Top Tiara taking a $7,500 maiden-claiming race in Sunday’s first and Walker’s Way a $7,500 claiming race in the fifth.
“It’s tough to win any time, much less three in a row,” said Travis Foley, assistant trainer to his dad. “We were just in the right spots. We had one filly, May Lily, that we thought had a couple tough trips but she finally got it done. She’s nice.”
May Lily came five-wide from post 11 in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. A homebred for Foley’s longtime owners Lloyd Madison Farms, the filly is out of the Smart Strike mare Bobby’s Babe, making her a half-sister to the stakes-placed Zapperini and $147,570-earner Clairenation. Going back, they all are from the same female family as Japanese millionaire Trillion Cut, British Group 1 winner Tamarisk, French Group 1 winner Treble and the terrific European mare Triptych.
“Zapperini and Clairenation obviously have been good for us, and we think the future is bright for her, too,” Travis Foley said of May Lily.
May Lily could run next in a turf stakes at Indiana Grand. Zapperini, most recently third in a very tough allowance race that came off the grass, is nominated to the Aug. 13 Cliff Guilliams Stakes.
More immediately, the barn has the first-time starter Potential Danger (5-1 in the morning line) in Friday’s second race for 2-year-old maidens and long-shot Army Grey in the eighth, for $7,500 maidens. Potential Danger is owned by another long-time client, Steve Vanovich of Atlanta.
“Potential Danger is our first 2-year-old” to run this year, Travis Foley said. “We’re kind of excited about him. His sire is Discreetly Mine, and he’s been good to us. He’s a smart, smart horse. He’s ready to go. I don’t know what he’s in against, but he’s got some talent.”
The Foleys start their first 2-year-old filly of the year with Fred and Debbie Schwartz’s Lovelily running Saturday, and possibly Will Ye Go Lassie if there are scratches in the race. The stable is in three races overall Saturday and two more on Sunday.
“We should be live,” Travis Foley said of the rest of the meet. “These shouldn’t be out last (wins), anyway. I hope.”
Groupie Doll attracts 29 nominations
Ellis Park’s signature race, the Grade 3 Groupie Doll, attracted 29 nominations, including graded-stakes winners Big World, Brooklynsway, Lady Fog Horn and Walkabout. The Groupie Doll will be Sunday, Aug. 13, moved from a Saturday in order to avoid a conflict for jockeys with Chicago’s Arlington Million card or Saratoga and also to give the stakes more attention in the national simulcast market.
The Groupie Doll, for which entries will be taken next Thursday, is well-positioned as the summer’s only graded stakes on dirt for fillies and mares until you get to Churchill Downs’ Sept. 16 Dogwood, also a Grade 3. It also is poised to attract both sprinters and route horses, coming over Ellis’ mile configuration out of the chute heading into the first turn.
The Groupie Doll is named for the two-time Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and Eclipse Award winner, who won the race as a 3-year-old in 2011 when the stakes had its long-time name of the Gardenia and then finished third in 2013, which kicked off her 5-year-old season but got her on track to successfully defend her Breeders’ Cup and championship titles.
The $50,000 Cliff Guilliams Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf received 33 nominations, including 2016 winner Pleuven, multiple graded-stakes winner Enterprising, Canada’s 2016 Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges, multiple stakes-winner One Mean Man, Grade 2 winner Flatlined; and Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Wise Dan runner-up Chocolate Ride.
Of course, nominations and entries are two different things, especially when it’s a free nomination, such as the Cliff Guilliams has. However, the stakes often has come up far tougher than its purse might suggest, including the year that future Grade 1 winner Turallure beat $2 million-earner Brass Hat in 2010.
The Cliff Guilliams is named in honor of the longtime Equibase chart-caller who wrote for years about horse racing and high school sports for the Evansville Courier & Press.
This week’s Making of a Racehorse featured guest: Hong Kong jockey Keith Yeung
Keith Yeung, who on Sunday won with his first U.S. mount at Ellis Park, will be the featured jockey for this Saturday’s Making of a Racehorse: Let’s Get Started. A collaboration between Ellis Park and the Kentucky HBPA, the family-friendly free weekly event begins at 7:30 a.m. Central by the starting gate, which is positioned for morning schooling in the first-turn chute, with parking nearby in the south end of the lot closest to the river levee.
Yeung is one of Hong Kong’s top jockeys and was the champion apprentice in 2009-2010. Hong Kong racing, which is in its offseason, has the largest betting pools in the country, with wagering most days what would be bet on Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby card. This week’s backstretch visit stops at trainer Chris Davis’ barn, where kids can have a supervised pony ride around the barn.