The $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II), one of five stakes on the Saturday race card at Turfway Park, received a boost when John Kimmel reported Monday he will send Woodward Stakes (gr. 1) winner Premium Tap to the top race.
"We're planning on going," said Kimmel. "It's good timing and he came out of his last race in good order. We weren't going to tackle Bernardini and Invasor in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I think the Classic is a good spot. It will be interesting to see how he handles the Polytrack. We were considering the Oct. 13 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup, but if it came up sloppy it would put us in a hole for the Clark Handicap (Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs), since I don't want to run him on an off track. With Polytrack, an off track is not a consideration. Polytrack gets even better when it's wet."
Perfect Drift will try to add the 2006 Classic to his 2003 win in the race, when he ran down Congaree in the stretch. The veteran multi-millionaire will ship to Turfway Saturday morning.
"The timing of this race changed [to five weeks before the Breeders' Cup instead of seven] and we felt it fit good," said trainer Murray Johnson. "He's done well at Turfway even though he's never run on Polytrack. He handles every kind of track, so why wouldn't we think he would like it? He breezed real well over it and he's familiar with the surroundings."
Julien Leparoux will be aboard Perfect Drift for the Classic, Johnson said. "He's very familiar with Turfway. He's a rising star who rides with great confidence. It's not a knock on anyone else. We just wanted to make a change."
Gouldings Green returns to Turfway for the Classic after his win in the Turfway Park Fall Championship (gr. III) earlier this month, when he came from far off the pace. Corey Lanerie is back aboard.
"You can do whatever you want with him -- keep him close, bring him from off the pace. He's a very versatile horse," said trainer Tony Reinstedler. "The [Classic] is coming up pretty good, so we should find out where we are. I take it one race at a time. We have a game plan and this is part of it. He seems to like the Polytrack. His last race was good and his last breeze over it was very good."
That last work was four furlongs in :46.40, the fastest of 35 at the distance Sept. 20.
Turfway Park Fall Championship runner-up It's No Joke will try the Classic as well. "I thought he ran a winning race," said trainer Rebecca Maker of his half-length loss to Gouldings Green. "He ran so well it was hard to take the defeat, but I was relieved to see he ran better on Polytrack than he did in December. We've learned more about this horse than we knew last year. We know he needs to keep himself in the clear and keep moving forward. The surface contributed somewhat, but we didn't really know how he liked to run last December. He put in a two-minute-lick mile Saturday, and we'll have Jesus Castanon back on him. This horse is not easy to ride, but Jesus seems to have found his number."
Other Stakes Taking Shape
--$175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup (gr. III)
Trainer Patrick Biancone will run at least two on Kentucky Cup Day, including Slew Peg in the Turfway Breeders' Cup. Her most recent race was a record-setting allowance win at Turfway. "She came out of her last race perfect, and she seems to like the surface at Turfway," said Biancone. "We gave her a good break over the summer and she has been training very well ever since."
--$100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III)
Biancone's other likely starter is Likely in the Kentucky Cup Sprint. Likely also benefited from time off after his win in the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland and a tough-luck fifth behind Songster and Too Much Bling in the Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup (gr. II) on Belmont Stakes Day, when some thought an inside bias compromised his chances. He returned to racing in an allowance event at Turfway Sept. 10, finishing second to fellow Sprint contender Cognac Kisses.
"He's had some very bad shins," said Biancone of Likely. "He just needed some time. His comeback race was just that -- a comeback race."
Cognac Kisses' allowance win on Sept. 10 has given trainer Claude "Chip" Brownfield the confidence to run him in the Sprint. "He's run against some real nice horses, including Likely last time out," said Brownfield. "The only time he had a soft spot was when we sent him to River Downs to break his maiden, and he took care of business that day by 15 3/4 lengths. He really likes this course and he's doing good right now. I also like the angle that he doesn't have to ship in. He just has to walk over from the barn."
Cognac Kisses showed his affinity for Polytrack by finishing third in his career debut, Turfway's Hansel Stakes on Lane's End Stakes Day.
--$100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III)
In addition to Gouldings Green in the Classic, Reinstedler will send Shermanesque to the Juvenile, with Shaun Bridgmohan to ride. "He's doing real well right now. I was very happy with his last breeze," he said. "He's run in some good competition. We were going to run him in the Arlington-Washington Futurity but the track was off and I didn't want to run him on an off track. He's going two turns for the first time (in the Juvenile), and you never really know how they're going to run until you try it. It's a critical time for him and this is a good spot. We're more concerned about next year for him."
Shermanesque broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in June and then was second behind two-year-old division leader Circular Quay in the Bashford Manor (gr. III) and third in the Saratoga Special (gr. III).
Both of Reinstedler's Kentucky Cup starters will arrive at Turfway on Thursday.
--$100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies
Lucky Approval will try the Juvenile Fillies via "the turf to Polytrack concept," said trainer Hal Wiggins. "Had that last race (a maiden win on the turf at Ellis Park) been on dirt, I'm not sure we'd enter her. Her dirt races at Churchill were OK, though." The Ellis Park win was her second try at a mile on the turf, and her two-turn experience may be an advantage in the Juvenile Fillies. Lucky Approval will ship in Friday or Saturday, depending on Wiggins' opinion on how she might handle the noise from the Rolling Stones concert at Churchill Downs Friday night.
TVG will broadcast the entire Turfway card Saturday and ESPN will also be on hand to include the Kentucky Cup Classic in the NTRA National Pick 4.