Setsuko, whose runner-up effort in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) didn't earn him enough in graded stakes company to allow the Pleasantly Perfect colt to make the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), instead will contest the American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT) for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs the day before the Run for the Roses. The race will be run at 1 1/16 miles.
Setsuko, a homebred for Wertheimer and Sons, finished ahead of third-place finisher Lookin At Lucky , the morning-line Kentucky Derby favorite, but was no match for winner Sidney’s Candy, who scored by 4 1/2 lengths. Setsuko has run once on turf and that effort resulted in a second-place finish at Santa Anita at 1 1/8 miles in January. Rafael Bejarano returns to ride again for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
Workin for Hops, a son of City Zip trained by Michael Stidham, figures to threaten by virtue of his two-for-two record on grass. He goes into the race off a five-length score in the Grindstone Stakes on grass at Fair Grounds in late March in his sole race this year. B.J. Hernandez Jr. rides again.
Another runner which should prove up to the task is Lost Aptitude. The Aptitude colt, trained by Dale Romans, won twice on turf at Churchill last fall, with his big effort coming in the Grand Canyon Handicap. This year, Lost Aptitude missed winning the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) by a head. Kent Desormeaux rides him for the first time.
Several others in the 11-horse field also have won a stakes on turf. Strike the Tiger, by Tiger Ridge, took last year’s Chenery Stakes at Colonial Downs and ran second in this year’s Transylvania Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in his last start. Make Music for Me, by Bernstein, won the Pasadena Stakes at Santa Anita in March in his sole grass race. A consideration for the Derby, Make Music for Me is far enough down on the graded stakes list where he will probably not make the cut.
Rounding out the field are Alfarabi (by Yes It's True), Asphalt (by War Chant), Doubles Partner (by Rock Hard Ten), Gleam of Hope (by City Zip), Guys Reward (by Grand Reward), and Saint Eligius (by Saint Liam).
American Turf Stakes (gr. IIT), April 30, $175,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, Churchill Downs, Race 10, Post 4:47 p.m.
Post Horse Weight Jockey
1. Setsuko 117 Rafael Bejarano
2. Alfarabi 117 Corey Nakatani
3. Guys Reward 117 Jose Lezcano
4. Lost Aptitude 119 Kent Desormeaux
5. Strike the Tiger 117 John.\ Velazquez
6. Doubles Partner 117 Garrett Gomez
7. Asphalt 117 Julien Leparoux
8. Saint Eligius 117 Alan Garcia
9. Gleam of Hope 119 Robby Albarado
10. Make Music for Me 117 Joel Rosario
11. Workin for Hops 117 B.J. Hernandez Jr.