Three horses who ran in Triple Crown prep races this spring will experiment with turf racing in Saturday's $250,000 Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. Rushaway winner Mr. Mellon, Rebel (gr. III) winner Windward Passage, and Fountain of Youth (gr. I) seventh-place finisher Grey Beard will face five other 3-year-olds with turf experience in the 1 1/8-mile race.
Mr. Mellon is by Red Ransom and out of the Summer Squall mare Mackie. "He is bred very well for the turf," said trainer Elliott Walden.
"Horses that are bred for the turf, it's time to try them. You try them on the dirt all year to try and think about the Derby and then all of the sudden the focus does shift."
Windward Passage is by Kentucky Derby runner-up Captain Bodgit. He finished fourth in the Lone Star Derby last time out after failing to draw into the Derby field.
"He's a nice 3-year-old and he's kept pretty good company," Asmussen said. "If we would have some success here in the grass race it would open up a tremendous amount of financial opportunities for him."
Orchard Park drew the rail and with Red Masque is the co-highweight at 119 pounds. The Bill Mott-trained Orchard Park has won four of nine career races with all his wins coming on the grass. The son of Hennessy has never finished worse than third on turf.
Red Masque enters the Jefferson Cup off a ninth-place finish in the Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) when racing in front wraps for the first time. In four prior starts this year, he won the Forerunner at Keeneland, finished second in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, and won two other races at the Oldsmar, Fla., track.
The field – from the rail out, with jockey, weight, and morning-line odds – will consist of:
1 -- Orchard Park, Mark Guidry, 119, 2-1
2 -- Mr. Mellon, Larry Melancon, 112, 5-2
3 -- Red Masque, Charles Woods Jr., 119, 12-1
4 -- Quest Star, Craig Perret, 112, 3-1
5 -- February Storm, Calvin Borel, 115, 3-1
6 -- Forget the Judge, Willie Martinez, 115, 20-1
7 -- Grey Beard, Juan Matos, 112, 20-1
8 -- Windward Passage, Jon Court, 112, 6-1