Monday, September 24, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 24, 2007 . . . With the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions set for this Saturday, trainers are in the final stages of analyzing works, weighing options, and making decisions.
Street Sense, Hard Spun head Classic field
Two decisions already made will have a significant impact on the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2), a 1 1/8-mile contest for ages 3 and up. Carl Nafzger on Saturday announced his plan to run Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes winner Street Sense in the Classic. He will join Hard Spun, the Lane's End Stakes winner who has been pointed to the Kentucky Cup Classic since winning the King's Bishop at Saratoga.
The easy jump from Street Sense's base at Churchill to the race at Turfway was a major factor for Nafzger. "We’ll leave here in the morning and come back in the evening," said the trainer. "It was the idea of putting him on the van in the morning, go up there, run, then come back home.
"He’s doing great, and he's ready to run. If he wasn't doing great, he wouldn't be running anywhere. I'm not doing anything. The horse is doing it all. I'm just trying not to mess him up—just stay out of his way and let (jockey) Calvin (Borel) and him do their thing. Street Sense has two assets. One, he's completely relaxed during the race. He'll wait for Calvin. And second, when you ask him he’s got a heck of a turn of foot. You can push that button the first quarter of a mile if you want and he'll go. He and Calvin have a real rapport.'
Street Sense is expected to breeze five-eighths on Tuesday; if plans change he may go a half-mile on Wednesday.
Trainer Larry Jones and owner Rick Porter found themselves with a handful of lightning this year in Hard Spun. Since winning the Lane's End, the speedy colt finished second in the Derby, third in the Preakness, fourth in the Belmont, and second in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, site of this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships, before earning his Grade I win in the King's Bishop.
"We probably couldn't have imagined what has happened since we were last at Turfway," said Jones. "This is a great thing for the track to have the top two horses from the Derby. It won't be an easy spot for any of the other horses that join the field. Hard Spun’s doing real well right now."
Hard Spun tuned up with an easy five-furlong breeze in 1:01.40 at Delaware Park on Sunday. He will arrive at Turfway with stablemates Sweetdownthelane and De Star Xpress Monday afternoon, with Jones arriving later in the day. Regular rider Mario Pino will be aboard all three on Saturday.
Others already expected to join the Classic field are Stream Cat, trained by Patrick Biancone, and Cat Shaker, trained by Craig Callis.
Jones to send two fillies
Jones is aiming Sweetdownthelane at the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3), formerly the Turfway Breeders’ Cup, and De Star Xpress at the one-mile Juvenile Fillies (listed).
Said Jones, "We’re probably being a little optimistic bringing them to Turfway, but they are both doing well. They both had nice works to get prepared for their races. The two-year-old (De Star Xpress) looks like she'll be a distance horse, so we’re excited about getting her the two turns. Sweetdownthelane has been picking up her game with each race, so we'll see what she can do here."
Sweetdownthelane won the Brookmeade, taken off the turf at Colonial Downs, two starts ago and followed with a third place finish in an allowance at Delaware Park. De Star Xpress finished third twice before breaking her maiden last out, all at Delaware.
Like Hard Spun, both fillies worked on Sunday. De Star Xpress clocked five furlongs in 1:03 flat. Sweetdownthelane worked the same distance in 1:00.80, fastest of 15 at the distance.
Pletcher passes on Classic, aims for undercard
Todd Pletcher will point his Classic nominees elsewhere but has three set for the undercard, including India in the Kentucky Cup Distaff. Gifted with impressive early speed, the filly has two stakes wins including the Azeri Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park in March. The Distaff will be her first try on Polytrack.
Base Commander will try for his third win in five lifetime starts in the Sprint. Racing exclusively on Polytrack so far in his career, Base Commander enters the Sprint off a fine 2 1/4-length victory in an allowance race at Arlington Park last month.
Chitoz, one of Pletcher's many talented 2-year-olds, will see action in the Juvenile. In his debut on the turf at Belmont in July, Chitoz could do no better than sixth of seven, but he looked like a new horse in his most recent start, a runaway 10 1/4-length maiden win in the slop at Monmouth, an effort that should mark him among the favorites Saturday.
Asmussen points to Juvenile, Sprint, Juvenile Fillies
Trainer Steve Asmussen has selected the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile (G3) for both Poni Colada and T. J.’s Posse. Poni Colada broke his maiden at first asking before finishing fifth in the Sunny's Halo at Louisiana Downs and second at the same track in an allowance earlier this month. T. J.'s Posse also won at first asking in a claiming event at Churchill Downs, won the Jamestown at Colonial Downs, and was most recently fourth in the Grade III Arlington Washington Futurity.
"The Arlington Washington Futurity was T.J’s Posse’s first mile try," said Asmussen, "and that should have him fit enough to run in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. I was disappointed in Poni Colada's turf effort two races back in the Louisiana Downs turf stakes, but we've always thought highly of him, and I look forward to running him on Saturday.'
Asmussen will send Stormin Baghdad to the Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3), six furlongs for 3-year-olds. "He’s been away for a while but he’s training well, and he’s had some success at Turfway Park," the trainer said. The colt has two wins and a second at Turfway and an allowance win last spring at Keeneland, all on Polytrack.
Asmussen's entry for the Juvenile Fillies is Sky Mom, seventh last out in the Grade II Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga. Said Asmussen, "She had a tough race last time in the Adirondack, but she ran second in a stakes at Woodbine over the Polytrack before that and broke her maiden over it in her debut at Keeneland. I don't think Sky Mom needs to have Polytrack, but it certainly doesn’t eliminate her either."