Thursday, September 30, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 30, 2004 . . . The $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship (G3) is the last stakes race of the Northern Kentucky track’s fall meet, and the lineup for the 55th running this Saturday promises to make it a dandy. Nine horses are entered in the mile race for horses three years old and older.
Crafty Shaw has won this race two years straight, and trainer Peter Vestal brings him back to defend his title. Six-year-old Crafty Shaw has finished in the money six of the seven times he’s run this year, and one of his two third-place efforts found him behind Roses in May and Perfect Drift in the Cornhusker (G3). Crafty Shaw hasn’t run since July 26, but coming to Turfway is like old home week; he has five wins and one third from six starts over this track. Craig Perret, who rode Crafty Shaw in this race last year, will ride again.
A cough took Alumni Hall out of an optional claimer at Belmont last week, a race meant to offer lighter competition after his run in a tough Saratoga Breeders’ Cup (G2). Before that fourth-place finish among Grade 1 winners, Alumni Hall had three straight wins, one the Black Tie Affair at Arlington. Trainer Neil Howard has brought Alumni Hall along slowly—a five year old, he has raced only six times—but the strategy has paid off with five wins and one second. On his scorecard are a maiden win at Keeneland in his first start and allowance wins at Churchill Downs. This is his first visit to Turfway. Willie Martinez, riding hot at Turfway, has the mount.
Shane Sellers comes in to ride Spanish Empire for trainer Steve Asmussen. The colt was third behind Yessirgeneralsir and Sonic West in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap last May but hasn’t raced since. A month earlier he beat Crafty Shaw in the Grade 3 Fifth Season Handicap at Oaklawn, his first graded stakes win.
Turfway veteran Ask the Lord is back with Rafael Bejarano up for trainer Bernard Flint. Now seven, the Lord at War gelding can creditably be called a workhorse. He has raced 10 times in 2004 with four wins and two seconds. He was fifth in the same race that saw Spanish Empire and Crafty Shaw finish one-two, and like Crafty Shaw he’s at home at Turfway. He is three for four on this track, including the Dust Commander and Tejano Run stakes early this year.
Also in the field are Added Edge, fresh off a win in the Governor’s Handicap at Ellis Park, with Mark Guidry up; Cappuchino, third in this race last year but entered off a three-month layoff, with Dean Sarvis to ride; seven-year-old Eagle Time, who consistently finishes in the money about half the time, with Paul Melancon up; Intelligent Male, a stalker and former claimer who won his first stakes in July at Canterbury, with Orlando Mojica to ride; and Ministers Wild Cat, a Derby hopeful last year who has struggled this year but benefits from the successful partnership of trainer Robert Holthus and jockey John McKee.
First post on Saturday is 1:10 p.m. Admission and parking at Turfway are free. The fall meet closes October 7.