Wednesday, September 21, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Sept. 21, 2011 – Trainer Mike Maker, long a force in Kentucky racing, plans to send five contenders to the WinStar Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park on Saturday, including Baryshnikov in the 1 1/16-mile $200,000 WinStar Kentucky Cup (G2).
Baryshnikov is a proven professional who came into his own after Maker took over his training in December 2010. The 5-year-old son of Empire Maker has finished in the money in his 10 starts since then, including five wins, among them the Tejano Run Stakes at Turfway at 1 1/8 miles. He also has runner-up finishes in the Firecracker Handicap and Dixie Stakes, both Grade 2, and strong third-place finishes in Monmouth's Oceanport Stakes (G3) and Saratoga's Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) in his last two starts. He was beaten just three lengths in the Baruch despite a troubled trip.
"He's a model of consistency and he's earned every race," Maker said. "Like everybody we're looking for races where he can be one-two-three, and we're here (in the WinStar Kentucky Cup) looking for a win."
Corey Lanerie was aboard for the Bernard Baruch and will ride Baryshnikov Saturday for the second time.
Speightstown Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3)
Maker has two scheduled for the six-furlong $100,000 Speightstown Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3): Lou Brissie and Matthewsburg. Lou Brissie, a Limehouse colt out of the Forest Wildcat mare Fearless Wildcat, is among the high-profile claims for which owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey are known. Maker claimed the colt out of an optional allowance race at Churchill in June and in his one race since then he finished third in an optional allowance at Saratoga.
"Mr. Ramsey liked his pedigree, and he's a young runner that's already proven," Maker said.
Lou Brissie broke his maiden at first asking in a maiden special at Keeneland and followed with a win in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs in just his second start. After several lackluster starts that led to the claim, Maker looks to return to that early promise when he starts the colt Saturday for the second time. Jon Court will ride.
Matthewsburg finished second in his last start, the East Hanover Stakes at Penn National July 30. He won an allowance at Indiana Downs two races back, enough for Maker to give the Ghostzapper colt a chance to step up.
"This colt broke his maiden at Turfway and handled the Polytrack well. He's done well his last two so we're taking a shot with him," said Maker, who tapped Victor Lebron to ride.
Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile
Maker's most intriguing probable runner on Saturday is Hansen, expected for the 1 1/16-mile $100,000 Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Hansen, a nearly white son of Tapit, cruised to a 12 1/4-length winner in his only start to date, a maiden special sprint at Turfway on Sept. 9 under Victor Lebron, who will ride Saturday as well.
"We have high hopes for him," Maker said. "The owner (Kendall Hansen) is local so we started him at Turfway with stakes in mind. We got a late start with him—paperwork issues—and we need to get some stakes earnings for him, so this is a good spot."
Maker and Hansen, a Northern Kentucky physician, are looking for stakes earnings because they see Breeders' Cup potential in the youngster.
"I was thinking Breeders' Cup for this horse even before he ran," Maker said. "He's had sensational workouts. He's a very gifted horse."
All of Maker's horses will van from the Churchill Downs Training Center on Saturday morning.
Trainer Tim Ice took the horse racing world by storm in 2009 when he masterminded a campaign that led Summer Bird to victories in the Belmont Stakes, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup en route to the year's Eclipse Award as Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding.
Unfortunately, Ice has not won a stakes since the Jockey Club Gold Cup triumph. But that could change Saturday when the trainer saddles Pryce's Posse in the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile.
Pryce's Posse already has a solid body of work for a 2-year-old. He has started five times, including a third-place finish going a mile on the grass last time out in the Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs Sept. 10.
"I'm thinking with him having two-turn experience and having already run well over Polytrack, it will help him a lot going in to the race at Turfway," said Ice. "Going to Shreveport for the Sunday Silence Stakes, we had lots of questions still to answer, but I feel very good about coming to the Kentucky Cup."
In his third career start, Pryce's Posse ran a solid third in the Aug. 6 Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes. Then came a disappointing fifth in an Arlington Park allowance event.
"That race at Arlington, we tried blinkers on him, which hurt his chances. He also lost a back shoe in that race. If there was ever a throw-out race, that was it," Ice said.
Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado will be in the irons Saturday aboard Pryce's Posse. The colt will ship in to Turfway from his Arlington Park base on Friday.
Distorted Humor Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3)
Maker expects to start stakes winner La Gran Bailadora in the $100,000 Distorted Humor Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3). The 4-year-old Afleet Alex filly won the Likely Exchange Stakes at Turfway in February and is since graded stakes-placed, finishing second in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron two races back. She finished sixth in her most recent race, the Modesty Handicap (G3), also at Arlington, but Maker expects a better performance on Saturday.
"She ran well on the Polytrack at Arlington, so this looks like a good spot for her," he said. Corey Lanerie rode the filly in the Modesty and will ride again Saturday.
Kiss Mine doesn't venture to Turfway Park often, but when she does she makes the trip count. The 5-year-old daughter of Mineshaft has raced exactly once at Turfway each of the last three years and won all three starts. Her first Turfway start for 2011 comes Saturday, when she figures to be one of the favorites in the 1 1/16-mile Distorted Humor Kentucky Cup Distaff.
"We've been very fortunate at Turfway," said Kiss Mine’s trainer David Vance. "She broke her maiden there, she won an allowance there, and last year she won a small stakes (the My Charmer) there. So we know she can handle it at Turfway."
Regardless of where she runs, Kiss Mine seems to have a nose for the finish line, with a record of 10 wins and only three second-place finishes from 34 career starts.
"When she's on her game, she wins," said Vance. "I probably raced her a few times that I shouldn't have, but it seems like she either gets it all or she doesn't get any of it."
Tiznow Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies
While Kiss Mine is a known quantity, Vance is hoping for a pleasant surprise from Spring Eclipse in the one-mile $100,000 Tiznow Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies. After breaking her maiden at Ellis Park in her second career start, the 2-year-old filly finished a disappointing eighth last time out in the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes Aug. 6.
"She came back with a little bit of mucus in her head last time out, and she just didn't fire at all," said Vance. "I just threw the race out. She's had four works since then and three were really good. I feel good about running her in this spot, and I definitely think she’' a two-turn horse, being by Unbridled's Song. We’re going to take a shot unless she draws a horrendously bad post position."
Terry Thompson will ride both of Vance's charges. The horses will van to Turfway from Churchill Downs Saturday morning.
After a nine-length maiden win and then a victory in the Debutante Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs June 25, Flashy Lassie looked capable of being a major player in the 2-year-old filly division. She was tentatively pointed to the opening day Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga, but extreme heat on the East Coast at the time caused trainer Garry Simms to think better of a 15-hour van ride from Louisville to New York.
"Saratoga's the 'Graveyard of Favorites,' and horses seem to need a race over that track to run their best," said Simms. "It was about 100 degrees there, and I didn't think it was the right thing to do to ship her all the way there. I wanted a fresh horse for later in the year."
Simms rerouted Flashy Lassie to Mountaineer Park for the Aug. 6 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes, where she finished a fast-closing second as the 4-5 favorite after getting off to a slow start. From there, Simms began thinking of Kentucky Cup day.
"It's home, it's a two-turn mile, and I want to see if she'll stretch out," said Simms. "If she runs real big, I might point her to the Breeders' Cup."
On paper Flashy Lassie would figure to like the increased distance of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies—she has gained ground in the stretch in each of her three sprint races. But Simms admits that Turfway's all-weather surface represents a new challenge for his filly, who has raced exclusively on dirt thus far.
"It's always a question, in part because every synthetic surface is different," said Simms. "Before she started racing, though, I had her out at the Skylight Training Center where she galloped and breezed over the synthetic track there. She got over it well, so I think she will like it Saturday. But you don't ever really know until you actually do it."
Kent Desormeaux, Flashy Lassie's winning pilot in the Debutante, has regained the mount for Saturday's race. Flashy Lassie will van to Turfway on Saturday.
Post time Saturday is 1:10 p.m., a return for the day to the traditional afternoon post. Gates open at 10 a.m. Admission is free; reserved seating is available by calling (859) 371-0200. Parking also is free, with valet parking available.