When the gun fires this afternoon at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., two local fillies will be among the 14 racing to win the Eight Belles Stakes. Those locals are Touch Magic and Sittin’ At the Bar, and today’s race, the Eight Belles Stakes, which will be followed by Derby on Saturday, is a 7 1/2 furlong sprint offering a purse $100,000.
“Trainers are a lot like football coaches,” says Julie Calzone, who handles PR for the owners of both horses. “You have to know the strengths of your horses, and which horse will be best in which race.”
| Touch Magic
Touch Magic, though not a native born Louisianan, lives and trains at Coteau Groves in Sunset — a 180-acre horse farm owned by Ginger and Keith Myers (founder of LHC Group).
“At one point [Touch Magic] was ranked no. 2 for Kentucky Oaks,” notes Calzone.
Calzone also represents Sittin’ At the Bar, whose trainer, Brett Brinkman, spoke Thursday afternoon with The IND.
With the noise of a cheering Churchhill Downs’ crowd heard in the background, Brinkman, a Lafayette native, says he's spent a lifetime in the horse training business.
“My grandfather was a trainer when Evangeline Downs opened in ‘65, so I’ve been in the horse training industry all my life,” says Brinkman.
In addition to Sittin’ At the Bar — a two-year-old Louisiana born fillie — Brinkman says he trains a total of 35 horses at his Le Mesa Stallions farm in Carencro, and as far as today’s race is concerned, he seems pretty confident in his horse’s chances. So far, she's won $295,000 in eight starts.
“We ran her in open company twice at Delta [Downs] and she ranked second and third,” says Brinkman. “Based on her ranking numbers and the criteria for this race, well, we know the 7/8 mile is her best distance, so we felt it warranted bringing her up to Kentucky and letting her try and accomplish something.”
Stay tuned — perhaps it’ll be one of our locals to make the fastest mad dash this afternoon.