Friday, September 19, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 19, 2008 . . . Nominations for the five stakes races that make up the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park were released today, with 25 nominated to the $350,000 Classic (G2), the series’ centerpiece. The Kentucky Cup Day of Champions, scheduled for Saturday, September 27, is designed to prep horses for the Breeders' Cup World Championships on October 24-25.
The Kentucky Cup series holds particular interest for Breeders' Cup hopefuls this year. With the Breeders' Cup to be contested over the all-weather Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita Park, a test over Turfway's all-weather Polytrack could help sort who goes to California and who goes elsewhere.
The series includes the 1 1/8-mile Classic, the $100,000 Distaff (G3, 1 1/16 miles), the $100,000 Juvenile (G3, 1 1/16 miles), the $100,000 Sprint (G3, 6 furlongs), and the $100,000 Juvenile Fillies (listed, 1 mile). The Classic's $350,000 purse includes $150,000 from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.
Larry Jones, who won the Kentucky Cup Classic last year with his standout colt Hard Spun, has nominated Honest Man to this year's running. The 4-year-old son of Unbridled's Song has experience at the Classic's distance, including a win last out in the Philip Iselin Handicap (G3). Additionally, Jones nominated this year's winner of Turfway’s Bourbonette Oaks (G3), Maren’s Meadow, to the Distaff and Beyond Ready to the Sprint (G3).
Perfect Drift, at age 9 one of racing’s grand old geldings, is the sole nominee from the barn of Richard Mandella. Nominated to the Classic, Perfect Drift won the race in 2003 and returned to finish second in 2006. A Turfway favorite, he is one of only two horses (Hard Spun is the other) to win both the Kentucky Cup Classic and the Lane’s End Stakes.
Steve Asmussen, currently the nation's leading trainer by earnings and wins, has nominated six to the series, including millionaire Zanjero to the Classic. Nominated to the Distaff are Copper State, most recently second in both the Ruffian and Go For Wand handicaps, multiple Grade II winner Rolling Sea, and stakes winner Jolie the Cat. Juliet's Spirit in the Juvenile Fillies and Retap in the Juvenile complete the Asmussen nominations.
D. Wayne Lukas, who holds the record for Kentucky Cup wins with 14, has nominated five, including three to the Distaff (Tazarine, Stealin' Kisses, and Grace Happens) and one each to the Juvenile Fillies (Be Smart) and Sprint (Nautical Storm).
A complete list of nominees to all five races is available at www.turfway.com.
Since its inception in 1994, the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions has prepped six Breeders' Cup winners: Boston Harbor (1996), Reraise (1998), Cat Thief (1999), Spain (2000), Vindication (2002), and Cajun Beat (2003).