Wide-Open Jefferson Cup Kicks Off Rich Churchill Program

A well-matched group of eight 3-year-olds will go postward in Saturday's Jefferson Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT), the first of five graded stakes on the Churchill Downs' program. Highlight of the afternoon is the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) for older runners.

On paper, the $200,000 nine-furlong turf race has three young turf stars on the rise in Gun Salute, Rush Bay, and Mad Adam.

Brant Laue's homebred Gun Salute is coming off an impressive 2 1/2-length victory in the nine-furlong Forerunner Stakes on turf at Keeneland April 21. The son of Military--Hail Roberta, by Roberto won at Keeneland while making only his second start of the year, having run sixth, beaten only two lengths, in the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park March 26.

Gun Salute, who recorded a four-furlong workout in :50 over the Churchill Downs' turf course Tuesday morning, is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott.

Breaking from post 7 is Rush Bay, who is coming off an oh-so-close effort in his turf debut on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. The son of Cozzene was beaten just a nose by Rey de Café in the Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) over the local course. Rey de Café has proven to be a top turf runner having annexed the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park the day before last Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

A homebred by the Phoebe Ann Miller Trust, Rush Bay is out of the Deputy Minister mare Seoul and is trained by Tom Amoss. Prior to racing on the turf, Rush Bay was on the Triple Crown trail but was unplaced in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds and the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) at Oaklawn. Last year, Rush Bay ran second behind Greater Good in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) over Churchill's main track.

There is plenty to like about Mad Adam, a son of Service Stripe--Wake up Noel, by Nureyev. Bred in Michigan by Ro Parra and owned by Parra's Millennium Farms, Mad Adam ran second to Gun Salute at Keeneland, but most recently won the Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes at Lone Star Park in just his second turf start.

Trained by Barry Germany, he came from seventh early on to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-miles Pin Oak Stud USA over a yielding course.

In the Jefferson Cup, he'll break from the outside slot and will be ridden by Pat Day, Churchill Downs' all-time leading rider.

Jefferson Cup Stakes (gr. IIIT), $200,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, turf, Churchill Downs, Saturday, June 18, approx. post 3:57 p.m. EDT
PP - Horse - Jockey
1 - Franklin's Tower - Mike Smith
2 - Mesawmi - Orlando Mojica
3 - Gun Salute - Cornelio Velasquez
4 - Big Prairie - Rafael Bejarano
5 - Ground Control - Gary Stevens
6 - Chatham Strait - Brice Blanc
7 - Rush Bay - Robby Albarado
8 - Mad Adam - Pat Day