George Strawbridge's Rochester will seek to defend his Kentucky Cup Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) title Saturday at Kentucky Downs. The 7-year-old Green Dancer gelding will take on six rivals in the 1 1/2-miles turf event, the $300,000 centerpiece of the Kentucky Cup Turf program.
Three other stakes will be presented on the program: the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Sprint at six furlongs; the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Mile; and the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf, for fillies and mares at a mile. Kentucky Downs, located near Franklin, Ky. only has turf racing.
Rochester, a homebred trained by Jonathan Sheppard, won last year's renewal by 2 1/2 lengths in 2:38.28. Continental Red was third a year ago, and the venerable gelding also return.
A winner of nine of 29 career starts and $713,897, Rochester has also captured back-to-back runnings of the 1 1/2-miles Sycamore Breeders' Cup Stakes at Keeneland. Winless in six starts this year, Rochester was second in the Cape Henolpen Stakes at Delaware Park in his last start.
Continental Red, the 117-pound highweight, is coming off a top effort in Southern California. The 7-year-old gelding was second, beaten a head, in the 11-furlong Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) under jockey Julie Krone. Ian Jory trains the son of Flying Continental for breeder/owner Sharon M. Fitzpatrick.
Other leading contenders are Kim Loves Bucky and Quest Star. Gardens Glen Racing Stable's Kim Loves Bucky was fifth in the Del Mar Handicap, but has won two stakes this year including the Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland and Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs. Mansell Stables' Quest Starwon the Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park earlier this year and is coming off back-to-back runner-up efforts in graded turf events in New York. Kentucky Cup Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT)
, Kentucky Downs, Sept. 20, $300,000, 1 1/2 miles, turf.
PP, Horse, Wgt., Jockey
1, Rochester, 115, Eddie Martin Jr.
2, Quest Star, 116, Robby Albarado
3, Art Variety, 111, Brice Blanc
4, Kim Loves Bucky, 116, Shane Sellers
5, Continental Red, 117, Jon Court
6, Act of War, 113, Curt Bourque
7, Bonus Pack, 114, John McKee