While most starters in the Sept. 22 Kentucky Cup Turf Stakes (gr. III) will stretch out to tackle the race’s 1 1/2 miles, Marty Wolfson trainee Golden Strategy has the distance more than covered. Coming off a very impressive 10 1/4-length victory in the two-mile Turf Marathon Handicap during Calder Race Course’s July 28 “extreme day,” the 4-year-old son of Strategic Mission will carry a pound less than his last starting weight and seems poised to claim his eleventh career victory in 13 starts.
A Kentucky-bred owned by Gainesway Farm and Joseph Cornacchia, Golden Strategy returned to the U.S. this year from Panama, where he raced unbeaten for his first five starts and became that country’s 2-year-old champion. He finished second in the 2006 running of the Classico Presidente de la Republica (gr. I), then kicked into a four-race winning streak that included multiple grade II victories and earned him honors as Panama’s champion older horse of that year. In his final foreign start, a 1 1/8-mile stake, he won by 11 1/4 lengths. The Turf Marathon is his only U.S. victory; in his other North American starts, he finished third and fourth.
Janet Shulthise’s Starspangled Gator will do his best to run down Golden Strategy, but is the co-high weight in the field of eight and has never tackled the 1 1/2-mile distance. Still, the 4-year-old son of Editor’s Note carries a two-race win streak into the Turf, coming off a recent victory in the Aug. 18 Concern Handicap at Louisiana Downs and a two-length allowance win at Churchill Downs July 5. Trainer William Gowan has sent the colt to six wins from 19 career starts.
One starter who has already covered the 1 1/2-mile distance is 3-year-old Dan McGrew, a David Carrol-trained son of Smart Strike with just seven career starts under his girth. The colt was a clear 4 3/4-length winner for Dogwood Stable in an Aug. 3 allowance race at Ellis Park.
Also of interest among the field of relative youngsters are two older horses: Kenneth Hoffman’s 8-year-old gelding Demeteor, a son of Dehere saddled by trainer William Lazuka who was the narrow winner of the Sept. 3 Rossi Gold Stakes over the Arlington Park Polytrack; and Frank Kirby trainee Lord Carmen, a 6-year-old son of Ordway who finished second by a nose in last year’s running of the Kentucky Cup Turf for David Banks and Hondo Ranch.
Fri Guy, Yate’s Black Cat (co-highweight with Starspangled Gator), and General Jumbo complete the field.
The Kentucky Cup Turf Stakes is part of Kentucky Downs’ Kentucky Cup Turf Festival, a day of stakes racing at the Franklin track. Other races on the card include the $50,000 Franklin Stakes, the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Turf Dash headlined by Jaipur Stakes (gr. III) winner Ecclesiastic, and the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf led by highweight Water Gap, winner of the July 3 Firecracker Stakes at Mountaneer.
8. Fri Guy, Julien Leparoux, 116
Kentucky Cup Turf Stakes (gr. III, race 14, 5:15p.m.), 3-yr-olds and up, 1 1/2-miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Starspangled Gator, Calvin Borel, 118
2. Dan McGrew, Patrick Johnson, 112
3. Demeteor, Diego Sanchez, 116
4. Golden Strategy, Jose Valdivia Jr., 116
5. Yate's Black Cat, Jamie Theriot, 118
6. General Jumbo, Jeremy Rose, 116
7. Lord Carmen, Larry Melancon, 116