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Hard Spun wins Kentucky Cup Classic wire-to-wire over Street Sense

Saturday, September 29, 2007 12:00 AM
  • Kentucky Cup
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 29, 2007 . . . In a rematch of the Kentucky Derby, Hard Spun again captured the early lead right out the gate in the Grade II $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic. But this time, in a veritable match race, Hard Spun would not let Street Sense get by him, holding on for a wire-to-wire, 1 1/4 length win at Turfway Park Saturday.

Owned by Richard Porter’s Fox Hill Farms and trained by Larry Jones, Hard Spun is a Pennsylvania bred, not a Kentucky bred, and therefore was not eligible for the $150,000 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplement to the purse. But because he won a Grade I race in 2007, the King’s Bishop, he picked up a $150,000 bonus from Turfway Park for winning the Classic. His total payday was $280,000 ($130,000 in base purse money plus the $150,000 bonus). Hard Spun now has won seven of 12 lifetime starts and $1,673,470 in purse money.

Breaking from the rail, Hard Spun (off at 0.90-1) went right to the early lead along the inside under Mario Pino. With Calvin Borel aboard, Street Sense (slightly favored at 0.80-1), stalked Hard Spun in second throughout the 1 1/8 mile Classic, racing just to Hard Spun’s outside.

In a four-horse field that largely lacked other early speed, Pino slowed the fractions down to :24.45 for the quarter, :48.18 for the half, 1:11.46 for six furlongs, and 1:35.72 for the mile. Street Sense never let Hard Spun get more than a length in front, and in midstretch he closed to within a half-length of Hard Spun under strong urging from Borel. That was as close as he would get. Hard Spun increased his margin to the wire, saving his largest lead of the race for the finish line. Final time was 1:48.48.

Stream Cat was last for much of the race, never more than three lengths behind the slow early pace. He closed late to capture third, 3 1/4 lengths behind Street Sense and 11 1/4 lengths ahead of last-place finisher Cat Shaker.

Hard Spun and Street Sense will meet next in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge on October 27 at Monmouth Park.

“Going in we knew it was going to be a match race because it was only a two-horse race on paper,” said Pino. “I got him relaxed and I felt him crawling along early. At the 3/8ths pole he dropped his head down, going faster and faster to the wire.”

“He heard about this match race and was ready to get it on,” said Jones. “This was a very good (Breeders’ Cup) prep. He ran so well off of Polytrack last time, so this should set him up perfectly. I want to thank Mr. Nafzger (trainer of Street Sense). I watched what he did with Unbridled, giving him a start on the turf before the Classic and it worked. I just wish we didn’t have to beat him today. Actually, we owed Carl (Nafzger) one. We still owe him, but I don’t know if he’s keeping score.”

“I think our horse contained himself as long as he could,” said Jones. “He was ready to go. We knew that with the pace scenario, we wanted to make Street Sense chase us. There are probably at least 90 percent of horses out there that couldn’t do what he’s done. We know that Monmouth is a speed favoring track, so we thought the King’s Bishop was a good spot, and this race also fit well. He liked the seven furlongs (of the King’s Bishop) and all we had to do was back off him a little bit and sharpen him up.

“I think we’re definitely looking at the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic. I was waiting with all of you (the media) to see what Mr. Porter would say, and I was happy to hear ‘the Classic.’”

“You can’t go that slow and catch a horse like that,” said Borel. “Don’t worry, my horse will show up in four weeks. He always struggles a bit on Polytrack, but that sets him up perfectly. I ain’t worried about it. In four weeks, he’ll be a different horse.”

“We were right there and we got beat,” said Nafzger. “We came up here to win the race. Let’s not make excuses. That’s horse racing. I think it was a great run. We ran a good race. We’re ready to go on. It was up to him at the head of the lane to get by Hard Spun. I thought he could do it. But it was hard to get by anyone all day. He just outran us. I just think Larry’s horse ran a better race than we did and I mean it. There’s a lot of excuses when you lose, but let’s put it this way. When you get beat you get beat.”

Hard Spun today became the first horse to capture Turfway Park’s two marquee events, the Lane’s End Stakes and the Kentucky Cup Classic, in the same year. The only other horse to win both races is Perfect Drift, who won the Lane’s End in 2002 and the Kentucky Cup Classic in 2003.

Danzon blows them away in Kentucky Cup Distaff
Danzon had never raced over anything but turf throughout her 13-race career, but her convincing five-length win in the $175,000 Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3) showed she has a bright future away from grass. Sent off the 2-1 favorite and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Danzon returned $6.40 to win. It was the second consecutive Kentucky Cup victory for Leparoux, who one race earlier won the Juvenile (G3) with Texas Fever.

Owned by Joseph Allen and trained by Patrick Biancone, Danzon stayed far back from the early pace set by longshot Tuffted and Pleasant Hill. Midway down the backstretch, Danzon began to pick up horses. Around the turn, Eyes on Eddy made a bold move on the inside to briefly capture the lead, but by then Danzon was unleashing a powerful rally while wide on the turn. Delicate Dynamite’s briefly took the lead, but Danzon’s sustained her move and assumed command at the top of the stretch, drawing away for the extremely comfortable win in 1:43:42.

Delicate Dynamite held second, a length ahead of Kettleoneup, who closed late to finish third.

“She broke good, and like usual backed off the pace,” said Leparoux. “We were cruising along and I asked her and she picked up around the turn. She responded and won easily.”

“She’s a nice filly,” said Biancone. “She’s been training well, and we thought she’d like the Polytrack. She’s a filly that likes soft going and with all the dry weather we haven’t been able to run her on the turf. We have a lot of options for her. She’s eligible for everything. We’ll look at the E.P. Taylor and (Breeders’ Cup) Filly and Mare Turf.

Danzon has now won five of 14 career starts and more than $300,000. Today’s win was her first stakes victory in the U.S. since arriving from Europe late last year.

The complete order of finish in the Kentucky Cup Distaff: Danzon, Delicate Dynamite, Kettleoneup, Sweetdownthelane, Mama I’m Home, Pleasant Hill, Warrior Girl, Eyes on Eddy, India, Ms. Lydonia, and Tuffted.

Texas Fever overcomes wide journey to win Kentucky Cup Juvenile
Fans had a tough time deciding whether to make Texas Fever or Chitoz the favorite in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3). Both went off at 5-2 (with Chitoz very slightly favored) and ran to their odds, with Texas Fever defeating Chitoz by a neck in 1:44.95 under Julien Leparoux. Blackberry Road was 2 1/2 lengths back in third.

Owned by Stonerside Stable and trained by Michael Stidham, Texas Fever raced with the early leaders, though three wide on the first turn and four wide on the second. Chitoz followed almost directly behind him virtually the entire race before swinging out in the stretch to challenge, but by then Texas Fever had the lead and never let it go.

“We were close up and relaxed early,” said Leparoux. “I tried to stay inside with him, but a horse inside of us took us wide, so I stayed wide. He was a little green in the stretch but took off again when I asked him.”

“He can be a tough, bullheaded horse,” said Stidham. “He’s never been really bad, but he can be tough. He’s a true colt. We don’t have any set plans. Breeders’ Cup hasn’t been in our minds, but after a nice win like that, you have to think about it. He has a nice record and he has the pedigree. We have a lot to look forward to with him.”

Texas Fever paid $7.80 to win and has now won two of four career starts. He broke his maiden last time out on August 25 at Arlington in his third career start. Today marked his stakes debut.

The complete order of finish in the Juvenile: Texas Fever, Chitoz, Blackberry Road, Horse Doctor, Pulaski Runner, T. J.’s Posse, Shekinah, Delaware Manor, Poni Colada, and Citizen John.

Favored Piratesonthelake hangs on to take Sprint
Piratesonthelake had most recently defeated older stakes sprinters in the Arlington Sprint Handicap last month, and he needed every inch of that experience today against his fellow three-year-olds in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3). Ridden by Diego Sanchez, Piratesonthelake finished a nose the best in a three-horse blanket finish. Base Commander was second, a neck ahead of Stormin Baghdad. The final time was a quick 1:09:09.

Owned by B Jock Racing LLC and trained by James DiVito, Piratesonthelake raced on the outside in fourth in the early stages behind a sharp pace set by Stormin Baghdad. Wide around the turn, Piratesonthelake drew even with Stormin Baghdad in midstretch, inched past him, then held off a furious late charge from Base Commander.

“He ran a great race,” said Sanchez. “He broke well and there was a lot of speed in front of him. Even when horses came to him late, I always thought we would win.”

“He’s a horse that can run either way,” said DiVito. “He’s shown he could rate all along. He just has enough speed that he can easily make lead. We’re on the fence about the Breeders’ Cup. It’s a possibility, but it’s also a lot of money since he’s not nominated.”

Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, Piratesonthelake returned $6.00 to win and has now won six of 12 lifetime starts.

The complete order of finish in the Sprint: Piratesonthelake, Base Commander, Stormin Baghdad, Appealing Spring, Elite Squadron, Sir Five Star, Norjac, Shore, My Private Lake, Fate Takes a Hand, and Pauillac.

Sky Mom stalks and pounces to capture Juvenile Fillies
Sky Mom picked up her first stakes victory and a possible ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with a solid 3/4-length tally in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies. Owned by Heather Stark and trained by Steve Asmussen, Sky Mom covered the mile in 1:38.11 under jockey Terry Thompson. Asmussen is the nation’s leading trainer by wins this year.

Off at 4-1 in the field of 11, Sky Mom sat just a neck off the early pace set by Palanka City during the race’s first six furlongs. Sky Mom assumed command just before turning for home, opened a clear lead in the stretch, and held off 14-1 long shot Mims Eppi, who closed from last with a late rush. Kadira, always close to the early leaders, tired in the stretch but held third. Latest Scoop, the 2-1 favorite, never seriously threatened and finished sixth.

“I was comfortable laying off horses early and I knew Steve would have her ready at the quarter pole onward,” said Thompson. “I let her go and knew the wire would come up in time.”

Sky Mom paid $10.40 to win and now has three victories from six career starts.

The complete order of finish in the Juvenile Fillies: Sky Mom, Mims Eppi, Kadira, Love Buzz, De Star Express, Latest Scoop, Sumwhrovrtherainbw, The High Queen, Palanka City, Yesshesarocket and Carnival City.

Though Turfway does not charge admission to the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions, attendance was estimated at a record 13,640, with all reserved seating sold out. Wagering on the day is expected to show a 30 percent increase over Kentucky Cup Day last year, fueled by $1.2 million wagered on the four-horse Classic.

Racing resumes Sunday at 1:10 pm. The track is dark Monday and Tuesday and then finishes its fall meet with 7:00 pm cards on Wednesday and Thursday. The holiday meet begins November 25.

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