Rahystrada won last year's Kentucky Turf Cup in by 3 3/4 lengths.

Rahystrada won last year's Kentucky Turf Cup in by 3 3/4 lengths.

Kentucky Downs Photo

KY Turf Cup: Rahystrada Makes Title Defense

Eight-year-old gelding, third in Arlington Million last time, favored against seven.

Third in last month's Arlington Million (gr. IT), Rahystrada will have a little more ground to deal with as he attempts to defend his title in the $200,000 Kentucky Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) Sept. 15 at Kentucky Downs.

Robert E. Courtney's 8-year-old gelding is the 9-5 morning line choice in a field of eight for the 1 1/2-mile event at  the boutique turf meet in Franklin, Ky. Rahystrada won last year's Kentucky Turf Cup in runaway fashion by 3 3/4 lengths. Corey Lanerie gets the call this time from trainer Byron Hughes. Rahystrada will break from post 3 while toting co-high weight of 125 pounds.

This year's Kentucky Turf Cup is race 9 on the Kentucky Downs program with a 5:35 p.m. CDT scheduled post. There are three other turf stakes on the card.

In his most recent start in the 10-furlong Arlington Million, Rahystrada rated off the pace while saving ground and rallied after shifting five wide for the drive. He finished three lengths behind the victorious pacemaker Little Mike. The chestnut son of Rahy won the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) with a front-running effort prior to the Million, holding on by a neck over Boisterous  after opening up a three-length advantage in the stretch.

Rahystrada is a lifetime earner of nearly $1.2 million while winning 13 of 39 trips to the post.

Also weighted at 125 is Team Block's Illinois homebred Ioya Bigtime, pegged at 5-2 on the morning line. Ioya Bigtime will shorten up for the Kentucky Cup Turf after running a solid second in the inaugural American St. Leger Stakes over 1 11/16 miles on the Arlington grass course Aug. 18. The son of Dynaformer set a reasonable pace in the St. Leger but could not hold off Jakkalberry in the final furlong.

Trainer Chris Block has tabbed Jeffrey Sanchez once again to ride Ioya Bigtime. They teamed to win Arlington's Stars and Stripes Stakes (gr. IIIT) at odds of 41-1 on July 14.

Team Valor International's Lake Drop is also coming out of the American St. Leger, finishing fourth in his United States debut for trainer Graham Motion. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Lemon Drop Kid  was a group III winner in Italy this spring. Shaun Bridgmohan rides the 8-1 shot, who will race with blinkers this time.

Others who will get consideration include Kindergarden Kid (9-2) and Tahoe Lake (6-1)

Kindergarden Kid was claimed out of his last start, a runner-up finish on turf, for $50,000 at Saratoga Race Course. He is a graded stakes-placed 5-year-old by Dynaformer trained by Mike Maker for new owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Kindergarden Kid previously raced for Lael Stables and trainer Barclay Tagg.

Victor Lebron will take over on Kindergarden Kid, who was placed third via disqualification in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park in January.

Brazilian-bred Tahoe Lake attempts to snap a nine-race losing streak for trainer Ken McPeek and Lynn Alexander's Alastar Throughbred Co. The 6-year-old has been close, running second or third in seven of those losses. He split a nine-horse field in the Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. IT), his most recent start Aug. 18 at Saratoga.

$200,000 Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:35 p.m.), 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Kindergarden Kid (KY), V Lebron, 121, M J Maker, 9/2
2. Ioya Bigtime (IL), J Sanchez, 125, C M Block, 5/2
3. Rahystrada (KY), C J Lanerie, 125, B G Hughes, 9/5
4. Lake Drop (KY), S Bridgmohan, 123, H G Motion, 8/1
5. Rezif (KY), R Morales, 121, M Jacobson, 20/1
6. Tahoe Lake (BRZ), D Cohen, 121, K G McPeek, 6/1
7. Canaveral (GB), K J Desormeaux, 121, J E Elliot, 20/1
8. Cozy Kitten (KY), L R Goncalves, 121, W A Ward, 12/1
Blinkers On: Lake Drop