When racing officials at Colonial Downs added the $750,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) to their stakes schedule to create the Jacobs Investments $5 million "Grand Slam of Grass,” they envisioned attracting strong interest from international horses.
At Monday’s draw for the first leg of the “Grand Slam” that foreign flair was revealed. Of the 13 colts that came out of the entry box, five have won races outside of the U.S. with two -- Adagio and Mysterious Peintre -- making their first U.S. start.
Owned by IEAH Stable, Adagio is a group III winner from Great Britain at a mile and is the most competitively raced colt in the field. As a group I and group II starter in the Two Thousand Guineas and Dante Stakes, respectively, Adagio went up against its talented English winners, Authorized and Cockney Rebel. In last year’s running of the Turf Cup, IEAH-owned Kip Deville held a 20 length lead on Colonial’s backstretch but was caught in the stretch by Showing Up. Mike Smith is named as the rider of Adagio.
Mysterious Peintre has never finished worse than second in eight starts in France. Owned by Edmund Gann and trained by Jean Claude Rouget, Mysterious Peintre has won races from five furlongs to 1 3/8 miles and will be ridden by French jockey Christophe Lemaire.
Sahara Heat has won his last three starts, including the $150,000 Marine Stakes over Woodbine’s synthetic surface in May. The colt has shown the capability to perform at every latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, with wins in Florida, Kentucky and Canada.
Brainy Benny and Love Dubai are two other Turf Cup starters that have run overseas, both in England. Brainy Benny along with Justy are two colts that trainer Bill Mott has entered for Zayat Stables.
Strike A Deal, trained by Alan Goldberg and owned by Jayeff B. Stables, is sired by Smart Strike , who sired the winner of the inaugural Colonial Turf Cup, English Channel. The two-time stakes winner on the turf will be making his first start in graded stakes company.
Trainer David Vivian has entered turf veteran Soldier’s Dancer, the $100,000 Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) winner at Calder on New Year’s Day while Marshall Dowell’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I) starter Mint Slewlep, trained by Robbie Bailes, will attempt the turf for the first time.
Souvenir Slew, Summer Doldrums, Time Squared and Wheels Up At Noon complete the field of the 1 3/8-mile turf race.
The $200,000 All Along Stakes (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares run prior to the Turf Cup also drew foreign interest. Among the 12 entries are two winners of stakes races in France, Ballet Pacifica and Grigorieva. Dancing Sky, an Irish-bred filly trained by Dermot Weld, is making her first U.S. start in the All Along. Humoristic, May Night, Miss Belga Bound, Dancing Up a Storm, Bridge Game, Omeya (CHI), Cozy Gain, Masseuse, and Silver Charades complete the field.
Opening day at Colonial Downs is Friday, June 15.
Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT), $750,000
1—Justy, no rider named, 116
2—Love Dubai, Mario Pino, 116
3—Wheels Up At Noon, Nick Santagata, 116
4—Strike a Deal, Javier Castellano, 116
5—Time Squared, Julien Leparoux, 116
6—Sahara Heat, no rider, 120
7—Brainy Benny, no rider, 116
8—Summer Doldrums, Jose Lezcano, 116
9—Adagio, Mike Smith, 118
10—Souvenir Slew, no rider, 116
11—Mysterious Peintre, Christophe Lemaire, 116
12—Soldier’s Dancer, Sebastian Madrid, 118
13—Mint Slewlep, Luis Garcia, 116
All Along Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT), $200,000
1—Dancing Sky, Jose Lezcano, 120
2—Bridge Game, Mike Smith, 120
3—Humoristic, Malcolm Franklin, 120
4—Dancingupastorm, Luis Garcia, 120
5—Miss Belga Bound, no rider, 120
6—May Night, no rider, 120
7—Grigorieva, Mike Smith, 120
8—Omeya, Enrique Jurado, 120
9—Silver Charades, Eddie Castro, 120
10—Ballet Pacifica, Julien Leparoux, 120
11--Cozy Gain, Luis Garcia, 120
12—Masseuse, Javier Castellano, 122