Tuesday, December 23, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 23, 2008 . . . Turfway Park caps the Holiday Meet stakes schedule this Saturday with the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes, a six-furlong sprint that drew a full field of 12.
Rouse the Cat brings an impressive record to his first start at Turfway. In 13 starts this year he has 10 in-the-money finishes, including five wins. He raced in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, finishing 12th of 14, but before that was second in the Grade II Nearctic on turf and afterward was again second in the Grade III Kennedy Road Stakes on Polytrack, both at Woodbine. Trainer Ollie Figgins III trains. Regular rider Christopher VanHassel is back aboard.
Officer Rocket placed in two stakes just before trainer Bob Holthus dropped him in for an $80,000 tag in an optional allowance at Churchill Downs last month. After a fourth-place finish in that race, his first start in over three months, he makes his second start off the layoff in the Holiday Cheer and his first for trainer Mike Maker. Officer Rocket has never raced on an all-weather surface but has been posting regular bullets in training at Turfway, including a best-of-31 for five furlongs last Saturday. Orlando Mojica will ride.
The speedster Darling Mon has been off a couple of months, but before the layoff he reeled off three straight wins including back-to-back allowance wins on Polytrack, first at Turfway and then at Keeneland. A five-year-old with five career starts, he made his first start just this year, finishing third and then second before breaking his maiden by more than 20 lengths at River Downs this summer. Otto Thorwarth rides for trainer John Ward Jr.
Big Glen won the WEBN and Rushaway stakes at Turfway early this year but has not raced since finishing fifth in the Lexington (G2) at Keeneland in April. Frank Brothers puts him back in action this Saturday at Turfway, where he has four wins from five starts. Billy Troilo will ride.
Junior College will try to repeat in the Holiday Cheer, this time for trainer Thomas Drury Jr., with Hector Rosario to ride. He won this race last year for trainer Tony Reinstedler but has yet to get back in contention since returning in September off a three-month layoff. He was fifth in his most recent start, an optional allowance on the turf at Churchill Downs.
Also entered for the Holiday Cheer are Timbucto (jockey Rodney Prescott); Godolphin Gray (Aldo Canchano); Aquino (URU) (Rex Stokes III); Future Prospect (Tracy Hebert); My Private Lake (Rafael Hernandez); Golden Country (Inosencio Diego); and William Tell (Tom Pompell).
After closing Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Turfway will reopen Friday, December 26, and race at 1:10pm daily, including Monday and Tuesday, through December 31. The Holiday Cheer is the 11th of 12 races on Saturday's card.