Fairbanks, who enters off a resounding stakes victory at Saratoga last month, heads a field of seven older horses in the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II) Sept. 27, all of them hoping to establish themselves as a Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) contender.
The 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup is one of two graded stakes events on the Hawthorne card. It will be run as race eight and post time is set for 4:54 p.m. CDT. The Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT), for older horses going a mile on the turf, will follow.
Owned by Team Valor, Fairbanks had been winless in his previous eight starts before romping to a gate-to-wire 5 3/4-length score in the 1 3/16-mile Duke of Magneta Stakes Aug. 9 under Richard Migliore. The 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway finished runner-up in the Bill Hartack Memorial Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne prior to that, and in fact, has finished second in four stakes events since capturing his lone graded victory last March in the Tokyo City Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita. Earlier this season he missed by a half-length in the grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap.
Migliore will get the return call on Fairbanks, who is 5-4-0 from 17 starts and has earned $582,768. He is trained by Todd Pletcher.
Prairie Meadows-based Wayzata Bay also enters in fine form. The 6-year-old son of Roar is 3-3-0 from six starts this season, including a 3 1/2-length score in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. II). His last effort was a runner-up performance in the Sept. 1 Shakopee Stakes at Canterbury Park.
Trained by Judi Hicklin, World Thoroughbred Racing’s Wayzata Bay finished fifth in last year’s Gold Cup, which was won by Student Council. Israel Ocampo will ride this time around.
Steve Asmussen trainee Magna Graduate will be looking to hit the winner’s for the first time since April 2007 when he took the Excelsior Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct. The 6-year-old Honor Grades horse is 0-for-5 this season and was third in the Duke of Magneta. Christopher Emigh will ride for the first time.
“The race up at Saratoga was definitely a prep,” said Scot Blasi, assistant for Asmussen. “We kind of had this race in mind and needed to get a race in him before the Gold Cup. We thought the last race was a good place to get him started.”
J. Paul Reddam’s Barcola could be the pacesetter in the Gold Cup, and he will try to wire the field as he did four starts back in the May 10 Brandywine Stakes at Delaware Park. The 5-year-old son of Old Trieste was third to Curlin in the June 14 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs and most recently, 10th in the grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 24 on the Del Mar Polytrack.
“This is a softer spot than last time and fewer unknowns than the Polytrack we ran on in his last start,” Barcola trainer Mark Hennig said. “He came out of his last race very well and the short field can only help his chances.”
Scarlet Stable’s Canela is cross-entered in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park the same day.
$500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:54 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Wayzata Bay (KY), 115, Israel Ocampo
2. Brothers Nicholas (KY), 111, Eduardo E. Perez
3. Canela (KY), 111, Inez Karlsson
4. Magna Graduate (KY), 113, Christopher A. Emigh
5. Fairbanks (KY), 115, Richard Migliore
6. Barcola (KY), 113, Kendrick Carmouche
7. Better Than Bonds (FL), 112, Jeremy Rose
$150,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr. III, Race 9, 5:23 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Dynaman (KY), 115, Carlos H. Silva
2. Demeteor (KY), 114, Diego Sanchez
3. Dastardly Deeds (IL), 114, Richard Migliore
4. Galantas (KY), 117, Jeremy Rose
5. Wise River (KY), 114, Francisco C. Torres
6. Media Play (FL), 113, E. T. Baird
7. Jungle Fighter (ON), 115, E. T. Baird
8. Vanquisher (FL), 114, Christopher A. Emigh
9. Chief Thief (IL), 113, Israel Ocampo
10. Tiganello (GER), 113, Inez Karlsson
11. Tom Archdeacon (OH), 113, Jesse M. Campbell