Future Prospect gave Dodson Skaggs his first graded stakes winner in 42 years as a trainer when the 7-year-old gelding left General Quarters behind in the stretch to capture the $169,999 WinStar Kentucky Cup (gr. II) at 18-1 odds at Turfway Park Sept. 24 (VIDEO) .
"It's a pretty good feeling," an emotional Skaggs, 76, told TVG immediately afterward. "This ol' horse has been really good to me."
Skaggs once had a stable numbering as many as 25, but currently has only Future Prospect.
Future Prospect earned his fourth consecutive triumph for Skaggs, who brought the horse back to the races as owner and trainer in March following an absence since October 2009. This was the first stakes race for the New York-bred son of Freud in eight starts since returning to competition. He has won five times in 2011.
“He’s run at seven different tracks and he’s run well at all of them," Skaggs said. "He doesn’t have to take his track or his jockey with him. He’s going good right now and that’s the time to step up and take a chance.”
Future Prospect was formerly trained by Mike Maker in New York. Maker won five races on the 2011 Kentucky Cup card, including the three stakes that preceded the main event.
The winner carried 118 pounds and paid $38.40, $15.80, and $9.60 across the board while topping an exacta worth $406.40 with 10-1 General Quarters. A $2 trifecta with 17-1 Demarcation in the show spot was $3,328.20.
Eight contested the Kentucky Cup, which returned to Turfway after a one-year absence. Future Prospect completed the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack journey in 1:44.71, holding sway over General Quarters in the final furlong to win by three-quarters of a length.
Ridden by Edgar Prado, Future Prospect dueled on the outside of Strike Impact for the early lead before taking over following an opening quarter-mile of :24.47. He stepped the half-mile in :47.97 and six furlongs in 1:11.82 as General Quarters and Jamie Theroit ranged into contention while traveling four-wide on the final turn.
General Quarters drew even with Future Prospect, but the leader fought back stubbornly and took the measure of his rival approaching mid-stretch. He was all out while holding off the runner-up in a game effort. General Quarters ($10.40, $7) finished eight lengths in front of Demarcation ($8.40) and Jesus Castanon in third.
“He was ready to go," Prado said. "He was warming up beautifully. Around the backside he was pretty much in command. I just had to wait as long as I could, but when I turned him loose, he responded. My horse was really trying in the stretch. I was very excited about that,” said Prado.
The jockey acquired the mount on the recommendation of Manuel Cruz. Cruz had ridden Future Prospect to an earlier win at Churchill Downs but was unavailable for the Kentucky Cup.
Second choice Workin for Hops was a head farther back in fourth, while 2-1 favorite Baryshnikov was never a factor and came home fifth. Strike Impact was next, followed by Havelock and Shediak.
Bred in New York by Thomas/Lakin, Future Prospect improved his career record to 14-3-2 in 29 starts with earnings of $475,263. The dark bay or brown gelding, out of Devil's Waltz (by Marshua's Dancer), earned $90,210 for the Kentucky Cup victory.
Skaggs said he was unsure of what is next for Future Prospect.
Future Prospect, coming off an optional claiming win at Pennsylvania's Presque Isle Downs over the Tapeta racing surface Aug. 24, has captured five of seven starts over synthetic tracks. He has won two of three races on Turfway's Polytrack.