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Byrne Puts Blinkers On Almost Famous

When the highly-regarded 2-year-old Almost Famous faltered in upper stretch and finished a non-threatening fourth in the $61,800 Street Sense on opening day of the Churchill Downs Fall Meet, trainer Pat Byrne quickly admitted that he was completely mystified.

But following an equipment change and a sizzling work, Byrne will wheel Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s son of Unbridled’s Song back in Satuday’s seventh race, a 1 1/16-mile allowance for 2-year-olds. It will be the colt’s first run at a two-turn distance and a race that Byrne hopes will put the colt back on track for a run in the $175,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) on the Nov. 30 “Stars of Tomorrow II” program that wraps up the 25-day racing session.

Almost Famous, a $500,000 purchase by the Sandfords at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old sale in March, had dazzled in his September racing debut. He turned back John C. Oxley’s Coastline in that race, a rival who came back to beat him soundly when he won their Street Sense rematch.

The colt was physically perfect after his dull run, so Byrne pondered the situation for a day and determined that Almost Famous needed to get right back to work.

“He just didn’t focus – he just kind of goofed around there,” Byrne said. “I gave him a day off, took him back to the track and galloped him with blinkers on and I think the blinks are the way to go.”

Almost Famous will wear blinkers in competition for the first time when he faces nine promising rivals.

“’He’s a genuine horse, but he’s just a green baby,” Byrne said. “When he ran the other day he was just never at the races.”

Corey Lanerie will ride Almost Famous on Saturday and will be his third jockey in as many races. Calvin Borel was aboard for his debut, but injuries suffered by the three-time Kentucky Derby winner in an October accident at Keeneland sent him to the sidelines and Joe Rocco Jr. subbed in the saddle for the Street Sense. Rocco was already committed to another mount in Saturday’s race when Byrne decided to enter Almost Famous, so Lanerie got the mount for an important outing for the colt.

“Borel’s got the mount, because he’s really high on him, and hopefully we’ll get to the Jockey Club with him,” Byrne said. “He’s a big strong colt and if he wins, we’ll run him back in the Jockey Club.”

The improved focus Byrne sought from Almost Famous was evident in his first work with blinkers, a three-furlong drill from the starting gate in :35.40 on Nov. 2.

Almost Famous has been on the early lead in each of his previous races, and his draw of the rail post in Saturday’s two-turn debut will likely mean that he’ll be rolling on the front end again.

“He’s a good colt and I was just beside myself when he didn’t run well (in the Street Sense),” Byrne said. “I kind of spoiled him a little bit.”


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Older Comments about Byrne Puts Blinkers On Almost Famous...

I definately feel he will be very competetive with the likes of Honor Code.Borel chose this guy over Right On Curlin. The later was right there with Honor Code in the Champagne. Yes,as the Distances increase some will have an advantage pedigree wise. But this guys speed and ability to save ground will be huge.
The ton of late money had to be the off -shore computer gamblers.Their profiles are programmed to identify and bet on Overlays. This horse should of been 2-1 or lower,his last race was a complete toss. Computer gambling can generate 1000 tickets per second. Incredible how it works.The systems saw the 7/2 or 4-1 overlay,and hammered it down to 5/2. Nathan,this horse has an amazing cruising speed.I definately think,if needed he will be able to sit behind horses. He is not a speed freak.
Also like the vantage point for the twin spires picture. This originated and sat on the Churchill site for days as well, the money sure piled in late.
learn something new every day,don't we blabs.
Those blinkers really did the trick. Won clean as a whistle and as he pleased.

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