Turf Cup Stakes Go at Kentucky Downs
Category : News
Tue 10/09/2013 - 20:27 EDT
Five stakes races are on the card Saturday at Kentucky Downs, topped by the Grade III $400,000 Kentucky Turf Cup for three-year-olds and up going 1 ½ miles. With a field of nine making their way to the gate through a variety of different routes, it’s shaping up to be a wide-open event, with four or five in with a shot. Although Najjaar at 5-2 and Temeraine at 3-1 lead the field on the morning line, neither has shown consistent enough form to suggest they won’t be vulnerable.
Familiar rivals ship in from Arlington
Both met recently in the Grade II Arlington Handicap going 1 ¼ miles. After breaking well from the gate, Najjaar tracked the pacesetter in good position to sit fourth by only a length after the first mile. Taken off the rail, he had dead aim on the lead, moved to second, but lacked any finishing kick and wound up being passed late to finish just out of the money. For Temeraine, the added distance in the Turf Cup just might make the difference, as he rallied late in Arlington to get up for second.
Royal Bench could surprise on recent form
Of the rest, Side Road ran well two starts back in the Grade II Elkhorn Stakes coming off the rail late to get up for second at double-digit odds, and is ML fourth choice in here at 9-2. That puts him just behind the 4-1 Suntracer, coming off two recent runner-up finishes including the Grade III Stars and Stripes, run at the Turf Cup distance. Of the rest, the Irish-bred Royal Bench (10-1) has spent some time in Group I company in France, and is coming off a win in the 1 ½ mile Cape Henlopen Stakes, at Deleware Park, where he showed good tactical speed.
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Led to the gate by pre-race morning line favorite Omaha Beach, a full field of 20 are set to line up for the 145th Kentucky Derby on late Saturday afternoon. They're running for a total purse of $3 million on the 1 1/4 mile Churchill dirt course and making their bid to follow 2018 winner Justify as Triple Crown champions.
The $100,000 Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes July 2 at Churchill Downs features a field of nine up-and-coming two year olds in a race that may be as confusing as it is competitive.
With the Grade 1, $500,000 Stephen Foster the centerpiece of a stellar Downs After Dark racing card June 18 at Churchill Downs, the expected field of seven older runners presents an interesting handicapping puzzle.