Virginia Kraft-Payson's Scipion, who impressed observers with a last-to-first victory in his career debut Aug. 14 at Saratoga, drew the rail in a field of eight for the $200,000 Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-olds Sept. 6 at River Downs.
The Cradle, believed to have the longest-running race sponsorship in the industry, has regained graded status this year. It is the first graded stakes of the season around two turns for 2-year-olds. It was a grade III event for several years beginning in 1986. Among its graduates is Spend a Buck, the 1984 winner who captured the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) the following year.
Scipion, by A.P. Indy
out of the Strawberry Road mare Strawberry Reason, circled the field in the Saratoga race, which was run at seven furlongs. He was eighth and last at the stretch-call point, almost nine lengths behind, but finished with a furious rush to win in 1:24.72 on a track rated good. The last eighth of a mile went in about 13 seconds, but Scipion's final eighth was closer to 11 seconds according to the past performances.
Scipion was bred in Kentucky by Payson Stud. His sire was the 1992 Horse of the Year, and his dam, bred by Kraft-Payson, was a grade III winner that specialized in 1 1/16-mile races. The Cradle, at 1 1/16 miles, usually provides the first two-turn stakes test for 2-year-olds.
Edgar Prado was named by trainer Patrick Biancone to ride Scipion at 120 pounds, the weight all eight entrants are listed to carry.
The one-two-three finishers in the one-mile-and-70-yard Cradle prep at the Cincinnati, Ohio-area racetrack are the only entrants to have two-turn experience. The prep was won by Panic Stable's Hill's Cat Tourn, with Silverton Hill's Flyrock second and Billy Hays' Quick Blend third.
Cat Tourn, trained by Tom Amoss, won the prep by a neck his third victory in four career starts. Cat Tourn, by Karen's Cat, broke his maiden for a $35,000 tag at Ellis Park before his Cradle prep victory.
Kinsman Stable's Bellamy Road, trained by Michael Dickinson, ships in off a 7 1/2-length victory in a maiden special weight test Aug. 3 at Delaware Park in his career debut. The colt is by Concerto.
The Cradle is the 13th race on a 15-race card that includes races from Thistledown via the Ohio 7&7 program. Post time for the Cradle is 5:15 p.m. EDT, while first post for the program is 1:15.
Here's the Cradle field, in post-position order, with jockeys:
1 Scipion Edgar Prado
2 Bellamy Road Abel Castellano Jr.
3 Copy My Notes John McKee
4 Quick Blend Angela Owens
5 Diamond Isle Brice Blanc
6 Capwikann Nathan Solomon
7 Cat Tourn Daniel Coa
8 Flyrock Jeff Johnston
The Cradle is the featured event of the River Downs meet, which traditionally ends on Labor Day. The $100,000 Pepsi Bassinet Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, is the feature on the Sept. 4 program.