Saturday, September 26, 2009 12:00 AM
By Eric Wing
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 26, 2009 . . . Southern California-based rider Garrett Gomez made the trip to Turfway Park more than worthwhile by guiding Furthest Land to take the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (G2) Saturday by a neck over Dubious Miss. The victory capped a perfect three-for-three day for Gomez, who was the winning pilot earlier aboard Indescribable in the Kentucky Cup Distaff and El Brujo in the Kentucky Cup Sprint.
Owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker, Furthest Land ran widest of any in the field of nine, sitting in fifth while four-wide from the start to the middle of the far turn through fractions of :24.31 to the quarter, :48.41 to the half and 1:12.42 to three quarters. As early pacesetter Timeless Fashion gradually dropped back, Furthest Land swooped up to battle 9-2 second choice Dubious Miss, who sat just off the early pace throughout under Calvin Borel. The two horses squared off side-by-side for the last half-furlong before Furthest Land, sent off at 6-1, proved best by a neck on the outside. Final time for the mile-and-one-eighth was 1:48.41, just one-fifth of a second off the track record set by Ball Four in the 2006 Kentucky Cup Classic.
Sligovitz, a 9-1 shot, closed well to finish third, two and a half lengths behind Dubious Miss and a length and a quarter ahead of Timeless Fashion, who tired to fourth. Wicked Style was next, another 3/4 of a length back in fifth.
Hold Me Back was the race's 4-5 favorite off his strong second behind Summer Bird in the Travers at Saratoga, but he never fired in the Classic, producing only the mildest of rallies to finish sixth, beaten 10 3/4 lengths. Behind Hold Me back were Your Round, Jazz in the Park and Godolphin Gray.
"When we got [jockey] Garrett [Gomez], my confidence skyrocketed," said Maker. "I loved his race on the Polytrack at Keeneland, and we just haven't had a chance to race on it since. I threw his race on the dirt at Canterbury out because I know he prefers this surface. I looked at the race and the favorite [Hold Me Back] had been racing against straight three-year-olds, and the only other horse I thought was Dubious Miss. I'd think we'd take a look at the [Breeders' Cup] Dirt Mile. The Fayette Stakes [at Keeneland] looks like a logical next start."
Winning owner Kenneth Ramsey spent the afternoon not at Turfway Park but at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington for the Florida-Kentucky football game. "I called into Blue Grass Downs where I have an account and they let me listen to the race on the television,” said Ramsey by phone while the game was still in progress. "Don't read anything into [me going to the game]. We had a VIP suite set up for this game and it's the number 1 team, but to tell you the truth, if I had known I was going to win, I would have canceled the football. I hope Kentucky can upset Florida, but I regret not going [to the race] now. We really like this horse.
"We're very proud. We claimed him for $35,000 and this is the second stakes winner we've had that we claimed this year. I guess Mike is just good with these claiming horses. He's on a hot roll."
"He broke running and got a little aggressive on me, so I eased him back," said Gomez of his journey around the track. "He was pulling hard so I thought he was telling me something. I took him four or five wide in the first turn and let him settle. I wasn't worried about the top two [Timeless Fashion and Godolphin Gray, alternately first and second down the backstretch]. I had my eye on Boo-Boo's [Calvin Borel] horse [Dubious Miss] and Albarado's horse [Wicked Style]. Calvin’s horse came out a little but I got [Furthest Land] on his right lead and hit him twice left-handed. After that he straightened out nicely."
At the top of the stretch, Borel was convinced that the Kentucky Cup Classic belonged to his horse, Dubious Miss. "I thought I was home free turning for home," he said. "I think on a dirt track he might have carried. He ran good, he showed up, and he tried."
As for beaten favorite Hold Me Back, trainer Bill Mott was puzzled after the race.
"Not much explanation at this point," he said. "There wasn't anything obvious. He just never looked interested in the race. He was never really traveling well. I mean, he was never really into the bridle and going as good as you’d like. When [jockey Julien Leparoux] asked him, he was just empty—[as if he said], 'Not today.' Julien said he just never felt like he had any horse."
Sent off as third choice, Furthest Land paid $14.40 to win while registering his seventh victory in 15 lifetime starts. He was claimed for $35,000 last October 24 from a grass race at Belmont, and in his most recent effort on July 25 finished fourth in the July 25 Claiming Crown Jewel at Canterbury Park. Today's win was the second from as many starts for Furthest Land over Polytrack. He had captured an allowance race at Keeneland earlier this year on April 5.