By Michael Patricks
Summer racing is in the rear view mirror which means the march towards Breeders’ Cup weekend on November 3rd and 4th at Churchill Downs is underway. The juvenile classes are beginning to take shape and the heavyweight division is gathering some steam as well. West Coast has resumed training for Bob Baffert and sports two official workouts: August 28th, a half-mile in :48.4 and September 3rd, five-eighths in 1:02.2, both works at Del Mar. West Coast joins Accelerate and Catalina Cruiser from the John Sadler barn as the headliners over the marquee for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It will be interesting to see whether Sadler points both horses to the ‘Classic or whether he and Hronis Racing play King Solomon and divide their dynamic duo up with the Breeders’ Cup Mile a most-logical alternative for Catalina Cruiser.
Unfortunately it was a lackluster selection from yours truly with Sunny Ridge in the Woodward and a modest performance from Krsto Skye at Golden Gate Fields last weekend. Yoshida drew away easily in the Woodward and it must be stated on the record that Joel Rosario is riding really well of late. Interestingly, Krsto Skye is being wheeled right back in with $8,000 sellers, so we’ll see how he fares coming back in just seven days time. A chance to double down on him at 3/1 is in the offering nevertheless…
Breeders’ Cup tables at the Jockey Club will go on sale starting Thursday, October 4th. Purchase of a Breeders’ Cup table provides a group of up to four people a tremendous view of all the Breeders’ Cup races from both Friday and Saturday and features table service as well. Call the Sonoma County Jockey Club at 707-524-6340 for all the details.
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As mentioned, it wasn’t my best work from Saratoga this meeting, let’s see if turning the page over to Kentucky Downs on Saturday can get the handicapping “mojo” back.
Kentucky Downs-Race 10
The Kentucky Turf Cup (Grade III)
1 & 1/2 Miles on Turf for 3 y/o and Up
Post Time: 3:59 PST
For one weekend, many mainstay riders and barns converge in Franklin, Kentucky as Kentucky Downs garners the focus of most wagering eyeballs. Saturday’s program features four Grade III events and a combined $3.37 Million in purses to be divided up over 10 races. Kentucky Downs is located in the bucolic and rural countryside Kentucky right on the Tennessee border and sits unquestionably on my race track bucket list. I have been to Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Pimlico; I’ve been to Santa Anita and Del Mar as well. Heck, my first job in racing began at the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton, so I have seen many of racing’s great cathedrals. (Okay, maybe a bit tongue in cheek as far as Stockton goes.) Regardless, Kentucky Downs is on the to-do list and loyal Blog-reader Michael Wrona is currently visiting their venue as I put fingertips to keys, so I’m quite interested in getting his report on the venue they once called “Dueling Grounds”. Enough digression, let’s break down the Kentucky Turf Cup.
The Turf Cup goes through trainer Mike Maker who sends out one-third of the colts, geldings and ridglings to face the starter. The morning line favorite is #6 Oscar Nominated at 7/2. ‘Oscar disappointed in the Grade I United Nations on firm ground but is 2-for-2 in Franklin, having taken down last year’s Turf Cup by a head over Postulation in a stirring renewal of this race. Jose Ortiz climbs back aboard after a two-race absence and some may consider that a “buy sign”. I’m not in Oscar’s camp, however. I know the chestnut likes this surface but he hasn’t run well at off similar freshenings the last two starts and he’s likely to be underlayed from this price.
I’ll make Oscar Nominated’s stable mate, #4 Bigger Picture top choice at 9/2. Admittedly, I recognize that Bigger Picture comes into this race on a five-race losing streak but this old man at the tender age of seven has been taking on Grade I and II runners, and the scale down into the Grade III ranks should have this old man rolling home with fervor. Tyler Gaffalione is swayed into his camp for Mike Maker after being atop Multiplier’s back at Del Mar. Taking an archaeological dive to see the bigger picture here, you’ll quickly note that Bigger Picture’s last start against Grade III rivals was the perfect ointment to help him achieve victory. In some ways, I like the two-week turn back and that apparently Bigger Picture has just galloped up to this event. He’s a prior Grade I winner and should hit hard in here.
#8 Arklow looks like sneaky value at 12/1 and appears under the radar. Arklow prevailed in a long drive last month in a small turf event at Ellis Park. The Ellis Beyer of 93 looks light but he’s been competitive at the graded-stakes level and it looks as if he may be forwardly placed in a field that appears clouded with closers. Trainer Brad Cox hits at 29 per cent and Florent Geroux and Cox unite at a 32 per cent clip. Arklow won the American Turf as a three-year-old over a good turf course so he may appreciate a little cut in the ground.
#5 Mutliplier at 5/1 should be able to rally for a slice. Peter Miller is coming off a monster Del Mar meeting and as mentioned above, Joel Rosario is riding really well of late. He’s never been able to fire at triple digit fastball but he could be sitting on a big effort after shipping back to the region of his crowning achievement, the Grade III Illinois Derby last year. Something tells me the gray has a few big races still to come.
#6 Oscar Nominated should be able to stick around for a small piece. My concerns with him are outlined at the onset.