Thursday, September 25, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 25, 2008 . . . With the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park just two days away, the time for race preparation is over. As trainer Larry Jones said, "Now is the time we just have to keep them happy."
On Thursday morning Jones galloped all three of his entries for Saturday: Honest Man in the Kentucky Cup Classic, Maren's Meadow in the Distaff, and Beyond Ready in the Sprint.
"They all came in well and ate well last night, so we got that off our [list of] things to worry about," he said.
Maren's Meadow already owns a win over Turfway’s Polytrack, the 2008 Bourbonette Oaks. "She should like the surface fine," Jones said. "Honest Man has done very well training on the Tapeta [at Fair Hill], and when I galloped on this track today, it's very similar, so I expect him to run well.
"Beyond Ready is kind of our unknown, but I've run him on turf and dirt and he handled both OK. He's got the pedigree to like it. He's out of a Kingmambo mare, and More Than Readys, they run pretty much on whatever. So we’re just going to see. His biggest question is, does he have enough class? At Delaware he's in a bad spot. If I keep him in those allowance races he gets up against older horses that have won several stakes and are dropping down but are still very good horses. Those old guys are still tough and they play hard on a three-year-old. So we decided this would be a good spot for him."
Trainer Reade Baker has entered Fatal Bullet in the Sprint and Bear Now in the Distaff. Both arrived at Turfway Tuesday, galloped Wednesday, and jogged a mile and a half on Thursday, according to exercise rider Cassie Garcea. Both have run extensively on all-weather surfaces at Woodbine and Presque Isle.
A graded stakes winner, Bear Now has finished in the money in each of her five most recent races, including two wins in Woodbine stakes at the Distaff's 1 1/16-mile distance. Her best races find her on the lead.
Fatal Bullet comes into the Sprint off back-to-back stakes wins. He has six wins and a second in seven all-weather starts and is four-for-four at the Sprint’s 6-furlong distance. He has been putting in solid works at Woodbine, including a best-of-10 five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Sunday.
Also entered for the Sprint, Hatta Fort arrived from Belmont on Tuesday and completed his second day of training at Turfway Thursday morning. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the colt galloped a mile and a quarter Thursday and visited the paddock, a routine he will repeat on Friday. Hatta Fort raced in England and France before shipping to the U. S., where he is 1-1-2 in five starts this year. He closed to finish second in his first U.S. start, the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland, and next finished fourth in the Hill Prince (G3) at Belmont. He comes into the Sprint off an optional allowance win at Saratoga.
A confirmed front-running sprinter, Gentleman James is laid back except when it comes to racing, according to trainer Myra Mora. "He thinks he's a pony but he changes his mind about that when they come out of the gate," she said.
"We arrived in Kentucky 12 days ago to get him out of the [Florida] heat and let him freshen up in the nice weather here. The owner [Timothy O'Toole] has a farm near here and he spent three or four days out in the sunshine in the round pen. We've been at the track about a week, and we got a really good breeze in him [four furlongs Sunday in a bullet :46 flat]. He's been here at Turfway before—he broke his maiden here," Mora said.
Kelly Breen's entries for Saturday have both had significant time on the Turfway track. "We got here three weeks ahead of time and have gone over the track about every day," said assistant and exercise rider Miguel Santiago.
Bold Union, entered for the Juvenile Fillies, took a bit of time to take to the surface, Santiago said. "Being a baby and only having three races under her, we wanted to get her used to Polytrack. She worked 5/8 from the gate two Sundays ago and she got hold of it OK but I thought she could do a little better. Then last Sunday she had a great work, four [furlongs] in 47 [:47.40]. She really got hold of it and came off the work really good. So she really needed that, the experience over it."
Bold Union dominated in her first two starts before finishing fourth in the Grade II Adirondack. "I expect a big race from her," Santiago continued. "We have the one hole, and she has natural speed, so it's nice to be on the rail where we don't have to fight for position. She has the speed to be up front, but she doesn't have to be up front. If she wins, we will really consider going to the Breeders' Cup with her."
West Side Bernie, set for the Juvenile, has raced just once, a convincing maiden special at Monmouth despite a trip in which he was bumped, stumbled, and cut himself. "He picked himself up and won anyway," Santiago said. "He should fit the field here. He took to the track really well right off the bat. But he definitely has to win to think about going [to the Breeders' Cup]."
The Kentucky Cup series includes the Classic (G2, 1 1/8 miles), the Distaff (G3, 1 1/16 miles), the Juvenile (G3, 1 1/16 miles), the Sprint (G3, 6 furlongs), and the Juvenile Fillies (listed, 1 mile). This year marks the 15th renewal of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions. The stakes series begins with Race 6 on the 12-race card.
Gates open at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, with first post at 1:10 p.m. General admission and parking are free. Reserved seating is available from $5 to $100.
This year's Kentucky Cup Day also offers an exhibition race featuring graduates and students from the North American Racing Academy, the only jockey school in the U.S. Post time for the five-furlong exhibition race is 12:30 p.m.
Turfway also will host its fourth annual College Scholarship Day on Saturday. Ten $1,000 scholarships will be given away by random drawing to eligible students, with registration beginning at noon. Complete eligibility requirements are available at www.turfway.com.