There's something to like about the five stakes winners in the field of 11 for Saturday's $100,000 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park on the Lane's End (gr. II) undercard. There's also something to like about the other six contestants in the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds over Polytrack. All of which makes for one wide open race.
Skip Code, the only graded winner in the group, sports the sole stakes win over Polytrack. He captured the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine before finishing unplaced in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He started once this year and was badly beaten in the Ocala Breeders' Sales Championship Stakes in mid-February. Patrick Husbands rides again.
Head to Toe, the only two-time stakes winner in the group, won four straight races on the Ohio circuit last year, including the Best of Ohio Juvenile and Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes, both restricted. He will be making his first start of the year and will be ridden once again by William Troilo.
Passport, who won the Miller Lite Cradle Stakes at River Downs last September in his second start, will have a new rider in 2006 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Julien Leparoux. He finished unplaced in the Hallandale Beach at Gulfstream Park in his sole start this year.
Pink Viper boasts the only stakes win this year. He captured the Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct, then was badly beaten in the Whirlaway Stakes there. Pink Viper was ridden in his previous 12 starts by eight different jockeys and gets a new one for the Rushaway--Channing Hill.
Reata's Rocket, who won the restricted Monmouth Park NATC Futurity, ran fourth in the Swale (gr. II) and Hutcheson (gr. II) Stakes at Gulfstream in his two starts this year. This will be his first start around two turns. Rajiv Maragh rides again.
Poe Reef and unbeaten Dubious Miss are both two-turn Turfway winners this month. Jockey Dean Butler is back with Dubious Miss, and Poe Reef will be ridden for the first time by Alonso Quinonez.
Three of the other contestants--Dominican, Eighteenthofmarch, and Trust Your Luck--also have Polytrack wins. Dominican broke his maiden over the surface last fall at Keeneland and will be making his 3-year-old debut in the Rushaway. Rafael Bejarano rides for the first time.
Eighteenthofmarch won twice last year at Turfway. This year at the track, he ran third in the WEBN Stakes and unplaced in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. Casey Chavez is back in the saddle.
Trust Your Luck, who has a new rider in Kent Desormeaux, broke his maiden at Turfway in February and then missed by a neck of winning an allowance race there March 3.
Meritocracy, a maiden winner last year at Churchill, will be making his first-ever start at Turfway and comes off an unplaced effort in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream. Last year's Eclipse Award-winning jockey Edgar Prado rides.
Rushaway Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Race 9, Post 5:15
Post Horse Jockey
1. Poe Reef Alonso Quinonez
2. Dubious Miss Dean Butler
3. Dominican Rafael Bejarano
4. Trust Your Luck Kent Desormeaux
5. Meritocracy Edgar Prado
6. Passport Julien Leparoux
7. Reata's Rocket Rajiv Maragh
8. Eighteenthofmarch Casey Chavez
9. Pink Viper Channing Hill
10. Skip Code Patrick Husbands
11. Head to Toe William Troilo