Saturday, September 24, 2005 12:00 AM
Bejarano wins three of four Turf Festival stakes
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 24, 2005 . . . Korbyn Gold led most of the way in the Marfa Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday and dug in to hold off With Distinction just to her outside, but the real danger was lurking way in the back. As he did in the Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3) last year, Level Playingfield waited until the last minute and then closed with a mighty rush, coming from last at the head of the stretch to be first by three-quarters of a length at the wire. Korbyn Gold stayed in for second, a nose in front of a determined With Distinction.
“He’ll make you nervous, being back there last, but fortunately a lot of times he’s able to catch them,” said winning trainer Robert Holthus. “You can’t keep him up close. He just wants to break and lay back there and make that one run. He’ll close a lot of ground that last sixteenth of a mile. He looked hopelessly beaten at the head of the stretch but when he gets in gear he runs by them pretty fast.”
“I think about [whether he’ll get up in time] every time,” said winning jockey John McKee. “He’s a real consistent horse. It’s just that when he gets up, he just barely gets up. There was a fast pace up front today but Bob Holthus had this horse training really well for this race, and I tell you what, he come a-running. He doesn’t have any early lick anyways. He’s just got a big run. I tell you, it was exciting to be part of it.”
Level Playingfield finished the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.08 after Korbyn Gold set early fractions of :22.39, :44.90, and 1:10.33. The time set a new record for the distance on the all-weather surface. Turfway’s old track records were archived with the installation of Polytrack, with new records established beginning September 18.
The winner paid $9.20, $4.20, and $2.40 as the 7-2 third choice and improved his record to 7-8-6 in 25 starts for earnings of $428,093.
Private Horde, who was bidding for his third consecutive Marfa victory, raced close up in third through half but dropped back to finish sixth.
The complete order of finish: Level Playingfield; Korbyn Gold; With Distinction, the 2-1 favorite; Elusive Jazz; Sterling Gold, coupled with Korbyn Gold; Private Horde; Esprit Du Roi; and Deer Lake. Falcon’s Peak scratched.
Bejarano shines in Kentucky Cup Turf Festival
Jockey Rafael Bejarano took three of four stakes at the Kentucky Cup Turf Festival at Kentucky Downs Saturday. A European-style turf course in Franklin, Kentucky Downs is a sister track to Turfway Park. Its six races on Saturday were commingled by simulcast with Turfway’s 10 live races.
Pressed by Patrick Johnson on Juliet’s Kiss in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf, Bejarano kept Miss Wellspring steady on the lead before making a perfectly timed move to get her winning effort as the pressure increased. Juliet’s Kiss was half a length back in second; Fast Cookie was third.
Bejarano gave Silverfoot a smart energy- and ground-saving ride in the 1 1/2-mile $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf (G3), taking him back along the rail before angling him out in a fluid move that put him 6 3/4 lengths ahead at the wire. The veteran Rochester, making a move of his own, finished second, a head in front of Gallo Del Bar.
Earlier on the card, Bejarano won the $50,000 Yaqthan Stakes with Seeking Answers (IRE). Miss Me was second, with Tempered Steel third.
In the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash, Durban Thunder (BRZ) waited off the pace before making an up-the-rail late move to win by a head under jockey Calvin Borel. Atticus Kristy led in the stretch but finished second. Super Fuse was third.
Live racing continues Sunday at Turfway at 1:10 p.m. Kentucky Downs resumes live racing Monday and will close its 2005 meet on Tuesday. Turfway is open for simulcasting both Monday and Tuesday.