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Roses in May tunes up with easy Classic win

Saturday, September 18, 2004 12:00 AM
  • Kentucky Cup
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 18, 2004 . . . Cole Norman’s Pie N Burger kept Roses in May company until John Velazquez told 'Roses' it was time to go home. After that it was an easy glide to a four-length victory in the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2) for Dale Romans’ star. Keeping to the pre-race plan, Velazquez kept after Roses in May for another furlong and was clocked for the mile-and-a-quarter in 2:02 2/5. Next stop for the colt is Lone Star Park and the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“We’re going to the Breeders’ Cup next and I don’t care who joins us,” said winning owner Kenneth Ramsey. “This is his fifth consecutive win at his fifth different track with a fifth different jockey, so I don’t think anything can bother him.”

“That was perfect,” said Romans, who also trains the Ramseys’ Grade 1-winning turf runner Kitten’s Joy. “I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better. He broke well, relaxed, rated well. After the race was over, he worked out well. We will train him right up to the [Breeders’ Cup] Classic and I think we are going to send him to Lone Star Park early. The reason we went with John Velazquez is because he gave us a two-race commitment and we are glad he could get aboard the horse before the Breeders’ Cup.”

Roses in May won the 1 1/8th mile race in 1:49.13 and paid $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10 as the 1-5 favorite.

Pie N Burger maintained his effort for second. Sonic West was 3/4 of a length back in third. Finishing the field, in order, were Country Be Gold, racing on just seven days’ rest; Adreamisborn; and Stratostar.

Holthus, McKee team up for three
The long-time team of trainer Robert Holthus and jockey John McKee took three races on the day at Turfway Park, including two of the five stakes races that make up the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions.

First up for the pair was a $25,000 maiden special weight victory with Sir Laff Alot in the sixth race. That name seemed prescient by the time the day ended, as Holthus and McKee took both the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3) with Greater Good and the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3) with Level Playingfield.

Kentucky Cup Juvenile
Greater Good was eight-and-half lengths behind and last at the 3/4-mile mark but made a powerful move on the turn and swept to the lead for a 2 3/4-length victory. Magna Graduate, who lead most of the way, was second, 6 3/4 lengths ahead of Norainonthisparty in third. The latter is one of just two horses trained by local trainer Susan Stidham.

United was fourth, followed by Storied Cat and Sequoia Grove. Winning time was 1:44.96 over 1 1/16th miles. The winner paid $14.00, $6.60, and $5.80.

Kentucky Cup Sprint
With Heckle and Cuvee fighting tight down the stretch in the Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3), the center of the track was wide open for the late-charging Level Playingfield. Off at 10-1 as the longest shot in the field of five, the three-year-old sailed by the leaders in a bold move to win in 1:09.76.

McKee said, “Mr. Holthus told me there’s a lot of speed in this race, so just sit back and make one long run. I have a lot of confidence in Mr. Holthus, and that’s how it turned out.”

Cuvee, the bettors’ top choice at 6-5, took the early lead but was soon head-to-head with Heckle. Heckle put a head in front at the top of the stretch, and with the battle on, Holthus’ strategy paid off.

“The race shaped up like I thought it would,” Holthus said. “The only reason I ran in this race was because I was confident they would go 44 and change in front. I have had five winners now this meet and all but one have come from off the pace, so I don’t think there is any track bias.”

The quarter- and half-mile splits for the six-furlong sprint were :21.52 and :44.27.

Level Playingfield paid $22.80, $5.40, and $3.40. His winning margin was 2 1/2 lengths over Cuvee in second. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Swift Attraction, who came back to take third. Heckle finished fourth, a half-length back, and Silver Minister was last.

Susan’s Angel wins first graded stakes in Turfway Breeders’ Cup
Susan’s Angel had yet to win a race when she entered the Bourbonette Breeders’ Cup on Lane’s End Stakes Day last March and came away with a strong second-place finish. Saturday she took the top spot in the Turfway Breeders’ Cup (G3), giving her three wins in nine tries and her first graded stakes win.

“This is a game of highs and lows, and this one is very gratifying,” said winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “This was her first [graded] stakes win, so for her to get over that is a big step. She is an absolute jewel to train, very consistent.” The win was Lukas’ record 14th Kentucky Cup victory in the series’ 11-year history.

The race gave leading rider Rafael Bejarano his only win on the day. Winning time for the 1 1/16th mile race was 1:44.21. Susan’s Angel paid $14.40, $5.80, and $2.80.

The Turfway Breeders’ Cup was expected to be the most competitive of the five Kentucky Cup races, and it lived up to its billing, with just five lengths separating the top four horses. Susan’s Angel was part of a fast early pace, took a half-length lead by the top of the stretch, and inched ahead to win by 3/4 of a length over Mayo on the Side in second. Angela’s Love finished third, another length-and-a-half back. Miss Fortunate was two lengths back in fourth. La Reason finished fifth; Hippogator was last in sixth.

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