After winning a pair of graded stakes in 1 1/2-mile turf races in Kentucky, Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Dark Cove will try to make it three straight at the distance when he starts in the $150,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes (gr. IIIT) July 13 at Arlington Park.
Dark Cove enters Saturday's 1 1/2-mile turf race against five opponents off a half-length victory in the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) May 25 at Churchill Downs. That victory followed the 4 1/4-length romp by the 6-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro in the Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIT) April 26 at Keeneland.
Dark Cove has prospered since being stretched out by trainer Mike Maker, who claimed him for the Ramseys out of an April 26, 2012 race at Keeneland. Dark Cove finished off the board in his first start for his new connections at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots but found his stride at Gulfstream Park, where he won and finished second in a pair of claiming races on the turf before stretching out in the Elkhorn.
At 124 pounds, Dark Cove is scheduled to carry seven more pounds than any other horse in the field.
To extend his win streak, Dark Cove will have to defeat last year's Stars and Stripes winner Ioya Bigtime, who will try to turn the tables after finishing fifth to Dark Cove in the Louisville and ninth in the Elkhorn. Ioya Bigtime, by Dynaformer, is one of two Team Block homebreds in the field of six older horses as Suntracer also is entered. Suntracer is cross-entered in Saturday's Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT).
The field includes four Illinois-breds in the two Team Block horses as well as The Pizza Man and Doctor Trotter. The Stars and Stripes serves as local prep for for the American St. Leger Stakes on Arlington Million day.
$150,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes (gr. IIIT, race 7, approximate post time 3:55 p.m. CDT) 3YO&Up, 1 1/2 miles, turf
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Dark Cove (KY), R. Napravnik, 124, M. Maker
2. Live in Joy (KY), V. Lebron, 117, S. Lyster
3. The Pizza Man (IL), F. Geroux, 117, T. Amoss
4. Ioya Bigtime (IL), J. Sanchez, 117, C. Block
5. Doctor Trotter (IL), S. Martinez, 117, T. Domenosky
6. Suntracer (IL), E. Perez, 117, C. Block