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Kentucky Cup Notes: Friday

Friday, September 29, 2006 12:00 AM
  • Kentucky Cup
It's No Joke out of Classic
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 29, 2006 . . . It's No Joke has been scratched from the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2) Saturday at Turfway and will instead run in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) the same day in Chicago.

"It was a difficult decision, but after looking at both races, I thought he would probably run very well at Hawthorne," said trainer Rebecca Maker. "There were some defections of some California horses [from the Gold Cup] that set it up for him, so we decided to take that route. But it was a tough decision."

When jockey Julien Leparoux breaks from the gate aboard Perfect Drift in the Classic, it will be the first time he has ridden against his mentor and fellow Frenchman, trainer Patrick Biancone. Leparoux, who lost his apprentice status Monday, has achieved much of his success this year by riding Biancone's horses. In fact, just five weeks into his career he rode Ball Four for Biancone in the 2005 Kentucky Cup Classic, finishing second at odds of 45-1. But when Ball Four became a late entry in this year's Classic, Biancone found himself in the unusual position of not having Leparoux's services at his disposal.

"I think this is the first time he will ride against me," Biancone said. "Everything has to happen sometime. We decided very late to enter Ball Four, and I didn't think it would be polite to try to take him off another mount in a Grade II stakes." Biancone has named Willie Martinez to ride.

Ball Four has not raced since April, but Biancone is not worried about the layoff. "That is not a concern," he said. "But the race is very tough this year and we're going to try it because we know he loves the Polytrack. He is just one of the longshots in the race."

Since Premium Tap's upset win in Saratoga's Woodward Stakes (G1), he has come back with two excellent half-mile breezes at Belmont, giving trainer John Kimmel a good feeling about the Classic.

"Kent Desormeaux breezed him both times, and he said he felt better underneath him than he did prior to the Woodward," Kimmel said. "He wouldn't be at Turfway if he didn't show me he had come out of his last race in good order."

Though Premium Tap won the Woodward while disputing the early pace, Kimmel said he is not concerned about the late entry of the front-running Ball Four. "My horse doesn't need the lead," Kimmel said. "He's very much a horse that can be close and comfortable. He's very tractable and we're just going to do our thing. If somebody else wants to rush on out there, that's fine."

Premium Tap arrived at Turfway on Tuesday to get in some gallops over Polytrack.

$175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup (G3)
Christine Janks has scratched Stop A Train from the Turfway Breeders' Cup, allowing Biancone's Slew Peg to draw in from the also-eligible list. Julien Leparoux will ride. Commenting on Slew Peg's post in light of her fondness for the lead, Biancone said, "The 12 post is not the best, but we will take it. In that situation I count on the talent of my jockey. He will do the right thing. We are very happy to be in."

$100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3)
Biancone's Likely is the 7-2 morning line favorite in the Sprint. While in his best races Likely has come from off the pace, he went head and head on the early lead in his last race, a Turfway allowance, and finished second behind Cognac Kisses, also in the Sprint. That race was Likely's first in three months.

"We ran him last time to get him ready for this time," Biancone said. "He was a little bit fresh that day. He is very well now, and I think he is 'likely' going to win on Saturday."

Likely breezed four furlongs in :46.40 at Turfway on Wednesday, the fastest of 23 similar moves. Leparoux has the mount on Saturday.

Dallas Stewart is often represented on Turfway's marquee days and this year sends Island Warrior to the Kentucky Cup Sprint. Island Warrior finished third in his last race, a Saratoga allowance, after a stumbling start and some bumping, but it was a better start than the trouble line might suggest. The winner, Latent Heat, finished the race in 1:16 flat before winning at Belmont in his next start. "He's doing very well and his form is good," said Stewart of Island Warrior. "We hope to give it a shot."

Changing Weather most recently finished last in a four-horse race dominated by Henny Hughes, the Grade III Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park. One race earlier, he finished first of eight in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. "He's doing good," said trainer Eoin Harty. "He's a notch below the cream of the crop in this division [3-year-old sprinters] and we thought this would be a good spot for him. Polytrack seems to suit his running style, which is to come from off the pace. We'll see what happens."

$100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3)
Son of the West broke his maiden in a five-furlong sprint at Ellis early this month in his only career start, but trainer Pat Byrne expects no problems in asking the Gone West colt to go the Juvenile's two turns.

"I'm very high on him," Byrne said. "He has unlimited potential. He doesn't have to have the lead. This race felt good to us. I didn't want to send him to Saratoga and risk getting him sick. He's got a very nice pedigree [Gone West-Sun Princessa, by Pleasant Colony]."

$100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies
In addition to Splendid Blended in the Turfway Breeders' Cup, trainer Bill Mott has entered Cherokee Sheik in the Juvenile Fillies and is curious to see how she'll perform in the one-mile, two-turn race.

"It's two turns for the first time over a new surface—we're experimenting," Mott said. "We're trying to find our legs and see where we belong. We're taking it one step at a time with this filly."

Commenting on Kauai Calls' number 6 post for the Juvenile Fillies and her status as the favorite, trainer Scott Blasi said, "I prefer where she drew to having the rail. She overcame the rail last time [in an allowance win at Saratoga], but where she's at this time gives you more options. I'm very pleased with her position. She's two-for-two at Saratoga and she cost $2 million, so it doesn't surprise me that she's the favorite, but she still has to run to beat these fillies. It's a tough race."

Trainer Larry Demeritte was forced to scratch Laughwiththedevil from the Juvenile Fillies Friday morning after discovering that the filly had gotten cast in her stall. "She'll bounce back pretty quickly," said Demeritte. "I don't want to take a chance with her. She's a nice filly and I want to do what's right for her. I was looking forward to running her on Saturday. She was sitting on 'go'. Hopefully we can have her ready for the Keeneland meeting."

Bad Annie and Fast Actress also scratched from the Juvenile Fillies, leaving a field of 10.

First post at Turfway Park on Saturday is 1:10 p.m., with the Kentucky Cup series carded as races 6 through 10 on the 12-race card. General admission and parking are free. Remaining reserved seats are available at the gate. Gates open at 10 a.m.

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