The Churchill Downs main track was opened for training Wednesday morning for the first time since last fall, with horses such as the Greg Foley-trained Major Fed (Ghostzapper) and others conditioned by Steve Asmussen, Phil Bauer, Buff Bradley, Bret Calhoun, Mark Casse, Brad Cox, Neil Howard, Michelle Lovell and Dallas Stewart all stepping onto the surface just after 5:30 a.m. (video)
“It's a relief to be home,” said Lovell, who shipped her horses from the Fair Grounds to Ashbrook Farm in Lexington and made the trip across Interstate 64 each morning for the past six weeks. Lovell resides not far from the Churchill backstretch and commented, “It was tough traveling back and forth every day to Lexington, but we got through it and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The former jockey has a pair of horses entered for Saturday's opening-day program.
“It's been tough on us all but we are so thankful racing is back at Churchill Downs,” Lovell said.
Horses from Louisiana began arriving at Churchill this past Monday and Florida-based runners were scheduled to arrive in Louisville Wednesday morning.
Training hours through Friday, May 15, will be from 5:30-9 a.m. with a single renovation break at 7 a.m. Beginning Saturday, May 16, training hours will be extended to 10 a.m., with renovation taking place at 7 and 8:30 a.m. Turf training will take place Sunday and Tuesday, weather permitting, and gate schooling will operate daily from 7:30-9:30 a.m. with the exception of Tuesdays.