Kentucky Cup Fields Take Shape

Edited from Turfway Park press release--

Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II)

As expected early in the week, fields for Turfway Park's Kentucky Cup Day of Champions Saturday remain a matter for discussion. Still, some trainers' plans have begun to jell.

Last year, Pie N Burger gave trainer Cole Norman a second-place finish in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) behind Roses In May, whose next start resulted in a second to Ghostzapper in the Breeders' Cup Classic-Powered by Dodge (gr. I).

This year Norman is aiming for the Classic winner's circle with Absent Friend, winner of the Essex Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park earlier this year.

"I think we've got a shot," said Norman. "He's a come-from-behind horse who needs a good pace to run at. He had a good work (five furlongs in 1:01 4/5) at Louisiana Downs Saturday and he's coming into the race good. In his last race there was just no pace to run at."

In his last start Aug. 13, Absent Friend was fourth behind stablemate Shaky Town in the Evangeline Downs Mile Handicap.

Although also nominated to the Kentucky Cup Classic, Shaky Town will be sent elsewhere.

"I'm probably going to run Shaky Town back on the turf somewhere, so we'll go with Absent Friend," said Norman. "He'll arrive on Wednesday morning and Patrick Valenzuela will ride Saturday."

After scratching Shaniko from the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park last Saturday, trainer Todd Pletcher is hopeful the 4-year-old son of Forestry can claim his first stakes triumph in the Classic.

Shaniko breezed five furlongs in :59.62, the fastest of 32 at that distance. A win in the Classic would give Pletcher victories in both of Turfway Park's richest races. The trainer won the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) in March with 2005 Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Flower Alley.

Bobby Barnett plans to saddle 2004 Super Derby winner Fantasticat for the Classic, and Patrick Biancone is considering either Ball Four or Salford City (Ire).

Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III)

According to Jim Barnes, assistant to Bob Baffert, Mike Pegram's Preachinmandan will fly from California to Turfway Park for the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, arriving Thursday.

The son of Pulpit won a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar Aug. 25 but was disqualified and placed second. Sunday he breezed five furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:00 3/5, 10th fastest of 43 at the distance.

Deputy G, who won the Bashford Manor (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in July, also is slated for the Kentucky Cup Juvenile. "I think he's an outstanding horse," said trainer David Pate. "We've had this race on the agenda from the start. We plan on going to either the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II, Oct. 8) at Keeneland or the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes (gr. I, Oct. 29) at Belmont."

"He had two outstanding workouts over (the Polytrack) surface," said Pate. "We've trained him at Keeneland. I think he'll do fine. "Deputy G breezed five furlongs over Turfway's new surface last Saturday in 59 2/5 seconds, the fastest of 10 working that distance.

"He came out of his last race (a well-beaten third in the James C. Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park) with a lung infection. We thought we had it whipped, but obviously we didn't. He wasn't 100% then, but he's doing 110% now. If we had solved the problem, he'd be undefeated."

John McKee will have the mount on Deputy G, a son of Matty G.

Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies

All indications are that Tom Amoss will run Claremont in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies. The daughter of Point Given is prepping at Churchill Downs and should ship into Turfway Park on Saturday.

Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III)

Pletcher may not send Shaniko down from New York without company. Dogwood Stables' Vicarage, a nominee to the Kentucky Cup Sprint, turned in an impressive four-furlong move at Belmont Sunday. His time of :47.65 was the second fastest of 53 who breezed that distance.

At Aqueduct trainer Gary Contessa saw his 3-year-old charge Caribbean Cruiser sail five furlongs in :59.49, the fastest of 11 moves. Caribbean Cruiser is scheduled to arrive at Turfway midweek.

First post is 1:10 p.m.