by Terry KinneyMorton Fink's Guided Tour earned his third straight grade II win by outlasting Balto Star in a stretch duel to win the $400,000 Kentucky Cup Classic by a neck Saturday at Turfway Park as a pair of geldings filled the top two finishing positions. Balto Star, a spring sensation who flopped in the Triple Crown races, was first out of the gate but never could get clear of Guided Tour, who stayed within a length until the top of the stretch. Ridden by Larry Melancon, Guided Tour pulled even entering the stretch, put a head in front at the sixteenth pole and beat Balto Star, ridden by Pat Day.Guided Tour, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Niall O'Callaghan, covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:47.90 and paid $5, $2.60, and $2.20. Balto Star returned $2.60 and $2.20. A Fleets Dancer, eight lengths back, paid $3.20 to show. Da Devil, Performing Magic, and Fajardo completed the order of finish.
The gelded Balto Star, winner of the Spiral Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park and the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), went off the slight favorite. He did not place in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I), then won an allowance race on the turf at Saratoga.
Guided Tour (Hansel--Dancing Mahmoud, by Topsider) is 4-1-1 in seven starts this year and has won three straight races, starting with the Stephen Foster (gr. II) at Churchill Downs in June and the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) at Arlington Park in July. The grade II Classic was the featured race in the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at the Turfway Park. There were three other graded stakes on the card.The winning exacta combination paid $10. (Chart, Equibase)