Friday, December 31, 2004 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 31, 2004 . . . The new year starts with a question for the 11 horses in the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday: Who wants the lead? Only two, Private Horde and Edgerrin, typically make an immediate bid for the front, and with just six furlongs to run, several others will be vying early for their preferred position just off the pace. To their advantage, the track, maintained fast through last week’s winter storm, lately has been kind to horses coming up the outside in the last half-furlong.
The question may be moot, however, if Private Horde returns to his Turfway form. He led gate to wire in his last start here, the Marfa Stakes in September, and is 6-for-10 lifetime at the track. Between two unplaced finishes he was fourth by a neck in the Grade III Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs in October, leading the likes of Sir Cherokee and Fire Slam before tiring through the last of 7 1/2 furlongs. Going shorter at his favorite track might give Private Horde a win to start his six-year-old campaign. Joe Cain trains; Rodney Prescott rides.
Although 2003 was nothing to brag about, Big Talkin Man did more than talk in 2004; he finished in the money 9 of 13 starts, with 5 wins. Two of those wins have come since co-owner/trainer Bernard Flint claimed him off an October win at Keeneland. That solid, steady record gets a tough test in the Holiday Cheer, though, as Big Talkin Man enters the race on just three days rest. He finished second in a $50,000 optional claimer at Turfway on Tuesday. Bill Troilo has the mount.
While Deer Lake was 0-for-6 in 2004, he spent some of the year lining up with Cajun Beat, Clockstopper, Champali, and Speightstown. Even so, he had one second in good allowance company at Keeneland and two thirds, one of them behind Cajun Beat and Gygistar in the Grade III Mr. Prospector Handicap. Deer Lake gets the benefit of Turfway’s leading rider, Dean Sarvis. Richard Kohnhorst is the trainer.
Completing the field, named here with riders, are Saintly Look (Rafael Mojica, Jr.); Edgerrin (Ramsey Zimmerman); Blackinton (Billy Patin); Cat Tracker (Willie Martinez); Truman’s Raider (Dean Butler); Elite Mercedes (Eddie Zuniga); Cynthiana’s Song (Bonnie Castaneda); and Sgt. Bert (James Lopez).
For horses four years old and older, the Holiday Cheer is the 10th of 12 races at Turfway Saturday. First post is 1:10 p.m. ET. Admission to the track and parking are free.