Kentucky Cup Draws Solid Field in Return
A field of eight was drawn for the $200,000 WinStar Kentucky Cup (gr. II), which was revived this year after a one-year hiatus.
The feature of Turfway Park’s Sept. 24 program that includes four other Kentucky Cup races, the main event is at 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack. Post time for the feature is set for 6:05 p.m. EDT and it will be shown on TVG.
Havelock and French-bred Shediak are both coming off stakes victories in their last starts, though the consistent Baryshnikov (3-1) and four-time stakes winner Workin for Hops (7-2) are the top two morning-line choices. Workin for Hops and Demarcation, who won a graded stakes at Fair Grounds earlier this season, will carry top weight of 120 pounds.
Estorace’s Workin for Hops crossed the wire second by a neck but was disqualified and placed third for drifting out in the stretch in his last start, the Sept. 3 Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) on the Arlington Park Polytrack. The 4-year-old gelding led most of the way in that 1 1/8-mile contest when setting a moderate pace under James Graham.
The son of City Zip ran his best race of the year at Arlington in May, scoring the Hanshin Cup (gr. III) by three lengths as the 2-1 favorite. His other five starts in 2011 came on turf and though none of them resulted in a trip to the winner’s circle, he was competitive in most.
Trainer Mike Stidham has assigned California-based Joe Talamo to ride Workin for Hops, who sports a 6-4-2 mark from 17 lifetime starts.
"He’s always right there," said Stidham. "He tries hard and gives you a big effort, and you can't ask for more than that."
Five-year-old Baryshnikov has hit the board in all eight of his starts this season, his lone stakes score coming in the March 19 Tejano Run at Turfway. The son of Empire Maker ran a game second to Paddy O'Prado in the Dixie Stakes (gr. II) in April at Pimlico, was runner-up again in the Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) July 4 at Churchill Downs, and has been third in his past two graded stakes starts.
Baryshnikov has produced a 7-7-7 record from 37 lifetime starts. Trainer Mike Maker will keep Corey Lanerie in the irons.
"He's a model of consistency and he's earned every race," Maker said. "Like everybody we're looking for races where he can be one-two-three, and we're here looking for a win."
Silverton Hill’s Havelock (10-1) has won consecutive turf stakes. In July the Great Notion gelding took the Arlington Sprint Handicap by a neck and last out he got up late to nail down the Play the King (Can-IIT) by a head at Woodbine. The Darrin Miller trainee will make his route debut under Jermaine Bridgmohan.
California shipper Shediak has also won two straight, including the Windy Sails Handicap Sept. 3 on the Del Mar Polytrack. The 6-year-old gelding has run exclusively in California since 2008, with a couple of wins from 21 starts to show for it. Ben Cecil will give a leg up to Pat Valenzuela.
"I think the turf and dirt surfaces he's run over here in California have been too firm for his liking," Cecil said. "He really seemed to like the softer Polytrack at Del Mar in his last two. We thought he would be (assigned) 114 lbs. for his last race but he was highweighted (at 120 lbs.) and still won. So we’re hoping the Turfway Polytrack is a softer Polytrack like Del Mar."
Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation won the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Fair Grounds in February for the third graded stakes win of his career. He was runner-up by a half-length in the West Virginia Governor’s Handicap at Mountaineer in his last start. The 7-year-old gelding, based at Churchill for Paul McGee, will be making his first start at Turfway in his 42nd try.
"He'll be coming from off (the pace) for sure," said McGee. "He hasn't raced at Turfway, but I think he ought to like it. The track is often kind to horses that come from behind."
Also in the mix is Strike Impact, a former claimer who was third in the Firecracker and has a win at Turfway last year; and two-time grade I winner General Quarters , seeking his first win since taking the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) in May 2010.
$200,000 Kentucky Cup (gr. II, Race 10, 6:05 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack)
Copyright © 2015 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.