Monday, September 12, 2005 12:00 AM
Kentucky Cup fields begin to take shape
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 12, 2005 . . . As expected early in the week, fields for Turfway Park’s Kentucky Cup Day of Champions remain a matter for discussion, but some trainers’ plans have begun to jell.
Kentucky Cup Classic (G2)
Last year, Pie N Burger gave trainer Cole Norman a second-place finish in the Kentucky Cup Classic behind Roses In May, who next was runner up to Ghostzapper in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Powered by Dodge. This year Norman is aiming for the Kentucky Cup Classic winner’s circle with Absent Friend, who won the Essex Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn earlier this year.
“I think we’ve got a shot,” said Norman. “He’s a come from behind horse who needs a good pace to run at. He had a good work on Saturday [5 furlongs in 1:01 4/5, breezing, at Louisiana Downs], and he’s coming into the race good. In his last race there was just no pace to run at.” Last time out, August 13, Absent Friend was fourth behind stablemate Shaky Town in the Evangeline Downs Mile Handicap.
Although also nominated to the Kentucky Cup Classic, Shaky Town will be sent elsewhere. “I’m probably going to run Shaky Town back on the turf somewhere, so we’ll go with Absent Friend. He’ll arrive on Wednesday morning and Patrick Valenzuela will ride on Saturday.”
After scratching Shaniko from the Woodward Stakes in New York, trainer Todd Pletcher is hopeful the four-year-old son of Forestry can claim his first stakes triumph in the Kentucky Cup Classic. Shaniko breezed five furlongs in :59.62, the fastest of 32 at that distance.
A win in the Kentucky Cup Classic would give Pletcher victories in both of Turfway Park’s richest races. The trainer won the Lane’s End Stakes last March with eventual Travers winner Flower Alley.
Bobby Barnett plans to saddle 2004 Super Derby winner Fantasticat for the Classic, and Patrick Biancone is considering either Ball Four or Salford City (Ire).
Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3)
According to Jim Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert, Mike Pegram's Preachinmandan will fly from California to Turfway Park for the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, arriving on Thursday. The son of Pulpit won a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar August 25 but was disqualified and placed second. Sunday he breezed five furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:00 3/5, 10th fastest of 43 at the distance.
Deputy G, who won the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs in July, also is slated for the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. “I think he's an outstanding horse,” said trainer David Pate. “We've had this race on the agenda from the start. We plan on going to either the Lane's End [October 8 at Keeneland] or the Breeders' Cup Juvenile [October 29 at Belmont]."
"He had two outstanding workouts over [the Polytrack surface],” Pate continued. ”We've trained him at Keeneland. I think he'll do fine. “ Deputy G breezed five furlongs over Turfway's new surface last Saturday in 59 2/5 seconds, the fastest of 10 working that distance.
“He came out of his last race [a well beaten third in the James C. Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park] with a lung infection. We thought we had it whipped, but obviously we didn't. He wasn't 100 percent then, but he's doing 110 percent now. If we had solved the problem, he'd be undefeated.”
John McKee will have the mount on Deputy G, a son of Matty G.
Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies (listed)
All indications are that Tom Amoss will run Claremont in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies. The daughter of Point Given is prepping at Churchill Downs and should ship into Turfway Park on raceday.
Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3)
Pletcher may not send Shaniko down from New York without company. Dogwood Stables’ Vicarage, a nominee to the Kentucky Cup Sprint, turned in an impressive four-furlong move at Belmont Sunday, his :47.65 the second fastest of 53 who breezed that distance.
At Aqueduct trainer Gary Contessa saw his three-year-old charge Caribbean Cruiser sail five furlongs in :59.49, the fastest of 11. Caribbean Cruiser is scheduled to arrive at Turfway Wednesday or early Thursday.
The Kentucky Cup Day of Champions is scheduled for Saturday, September 17. The 14-race card includes four races simulcast from Kentucky Downs. First post is 1:10.