Monday, September 21, 2009 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 21, 2009 . . . Fields are beginning to jell for the three graded stakes races that form the centerpiece of this year's Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park, scheduled for Saturday. Headlining the day is the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (G2), supported by the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3) and the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3).
Among horses expected for the Classic is this year's Lane's End Stakes winner, Hold Me Back. Trained by Bill Mott, Hold Me Back most recently was second to Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird in the Grade I Travers Stakes over a sloppy track at Saratoga. With the Breeders' Cup World Championships in November to be run over the all-weather track at Santa Anita, Mott said, "The [Polytrack] surface was part of the reason for our decision to come [to Turfway]. He's done well there, and the timing was good for us."
The 1 1/8-mile Classic is written for horses three years old and up and would be Hold Me Back’s first effort in a race open to older horses.
On Monday Mott said Hold Me Back "worked well this morning," going five furlongs in 1:00.06 on the main track at Belmont, second fastest of 38 works at the distance. He will arrive at Turfway on Wednesday. Mott trains Hold Me Back for WinStar Farm.
Also expected for the Classic is Dubious Miss, who tracked a wire-to-wire winner to finish second earlier this month in Arlington's Washington Park Handicap (G3). "He ran real well in his last at Arlington," said trainer Paul McGee. "I do think he really likes the Polytrack. He also ran good on it at Keeneland [winning an allowance race in April 2008], so we thought we'd try him in this race at Turfway. The Arlington race was a mile and three-sixteenths, so the distance isn’t a problem. And he's versatile—he's won from off of it or on the lead."
Calvin Borel will ride the 5-year-old Dubious Miss, a wise choice given McGee's observation that "Calvin's never lost on him." Dubious Miss will ship to Turfway on race day.
Trainer Mark Hubley intends to bring Your Round to the Classic field. The son of Distorted Humor has run well at Turfway in the past, finishing second last year in the WEBN and John Battaglia Memorial stakes and second again this year in the Dust Commander. Your Round has been off since April, when he was second in the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland.
Of Your Round’s propensity for runner-up finishes, Hubley said, "He's had a tendency to loaf if he does get the lead, and sometimes he just can't catch them. I think he's getting better as he gets older. We had to give him some time off over the summer. I always worry if they're fit enough coming off a layoff, but he's been good fresh, and this race is close to home. We'd like to get a graded stakes win with him or a piece of it."
Your Round worked last Wednesday at Keeneland and is expected to work again this Wednesday at the Training Center.
Others expected for the Classic are Furthest Land (trainer Mike Maker); Godolphin Gray (Reta Underwood); Jazz In The Park (Bobby Barnett); Let It Rock (Judi Hicklin); Sligovitz (Roger Attfield); Timeless Fashion (Tom Drury); and Wicked Style (Rusty Arnold).
Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3)
Nine appear headed to the Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3), a 1 1/16-mile contest for fillies and mares three years old and up. Among them is Bear Now, Canada's reigning champion older mare and winner of last year's Distaff. Trained then by Reade Baker, Bear Now was sold for $950,000 at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton fall mixed sale to Town and Country Farm and is now trained by Al Stall Jr. She has been off since finishing second, beaten a length, in the Iowa Distaff.
The Distaff is also the planned next stop for Indescribable, trained by Bill Mott. She has run well over Polytrack, winning the Doubledogdare at Keeneland and finishing third in the Arlington Matron, both Grade III races run this past spring, but has not continued that form through the summer.
"She's been a little bit of a puzzle," said Mott. "It's frustrating, because she works well in the morning but hasn't run well in the afternoon. But she has been training well and we hope to get her back to where she was in the spring." As for Breeders' Cup plans, Mott said, "We would have to see a big turnaround for her."
Proving Mott's point, Indescribable worked four furlongs in 48 seconds flat over the Saratoga training track Monday morning, fastest of 43 moves at the distance.
Others expected for the Distaff are Abby’s Angel (trainer Michael Stidham); Devil House (Bruce Levine); French Kiss (Gary Hartlage); Madly (Jose Lopez); Ms. Margaret H. (David Ashcraft); Unforgotten (Dallas Stewart); and Whirlie Bertie (Steve Margolis).
Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3)
Ten are probable for the Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3), six furlongs for 3-year-olds. Among them are Turfiste, trained by Bob Holthus and winner of this year’s Hansel Stakes at Turfway, and Big Push (Steve Klesaris) and Ju Jitsu Jax (Scott Lake), one-two in the Gilded Time Stakes earlier this month at Monmouth. The filly Don'ttalktome, winner of three filly stakes at Prairie Meadows, including the Iowa State Fair Stakes against older last out, would make her first start against males in the Sprint. She is trained by Judi Hicklin.
Also looking toward the Sprint are Dynamite Bob (trainer Jose Lopez); El Brujo (Malcolm Pierce); Guam Typhoon (Ian Wilkes); Hamazing Destiny (D. Wayne Lukas); His Greatness (Marco Salazar); and Hollywood Hit (Anita Bolton).
Saturday’s card includes 16 races, 10 live at Turfway and 6 commingled by simulcast from Kentucky Downs, the country's only European-style turf course. The Kentucky Cup Distaff will be Race 10 (approximate post time 4:58pm), the Kentucky Cup Sprint will be Race 12 (5:51pm), and the Kentucky Cup Classic will be Race 13 (6:21pm). All times are Eastern.
General admission is free on Kentucky Cup Day. Reserved seating is available from $5 to $100, with the top venue the VIP Paddock Pavilion between the paddock and the rail.