Thursday, September 23, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 23, 2004 . . . Private Horde returns to Turfway Park Saturday to defend his 2003 Marfa Stakes victory, but a year is a lifetime for a racehorse. A standout speedster at four for trainer Joe Cain, the graded-stakes winner is still looking for top form at five. He lines up with five others, all four years old or older, for the $75,000 Marfa, a six-and-a-half furlong sprint.
Private Horde finished second earlier this month at Hoosier Park, his first race back after a 66-day layoff. He has not been back to Turfway since an allowance win here in March and may appreciate the return: that was his last victory, and he’s five for nine lifetime at Turfway with one second. Orlando Mojica will ride.
The hot team of trainer Robert Holthus and jockey John McKee, who together won two of the five stakes on Turfway’s Kentucky Cup Day last Saturday, will bring Unbridled America to this track for the first time. A son of Unbridled’s Song, the four-year-old finished win-place-show in his last three races, including a head loss to Fire Slam in the Don Bernhardt Stakes at Ellis Park two months ago.
Mountain General was second in an allowance race over a sloppy Saratoga track last month and won an optional claimer, sans tag, at Churchill Downs in July. The six-year-old owns multiple stakes wins including the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill Downs last year. Racing every month since February this year, he has been in the money four of seven times. Dean Butler rides for Steve Asmussen.
The veteran in the field is eight-year-old Sea of Tranquility. Trained by Richard Paulus, he can make a big run when he wants to. Two of his three wins this year came in mile races at Arlington, but he’s proven he can make his move in time at shorter distances as well. With regular rider Carlos Marquez, Jr., staying in Chicago, Mathieu Adam will ride.
Sterling Gold comes in off a third-place finish in a mile turf race, the Labor Day Handicap at Mountaineer earlier this month. He has sprint wins at Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, and Ellis Park this year. Willie Martinez rides for trainer Bernard Flint. Five-year-old Full of Luck has raced just 20 times, half this year. With four lifetime wins, he steps up to stakes ranks in the Marfa. Jeff Johnston will ride for trainer William Bradley.
The six races from Kentucky Downs, including the four stakes that make up the Kentucky Cup Turf Festival, will be commingled with Turfway Park’s live races this Saturday on a 16-race marathon card. Turfway gates open at 11:15 a.m. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern time. Admission and parking are free.