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Hold Me Back on course for KY Cup Classic

Hold Me Back was an impressive winner of the Lane's End at the same track and distance (Jordan Strickler Photo)
Fields are beginning to jell for the three graded stakes races that form the centerpiece of Saturday's Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park. Headlining the day is the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (G2), supported by the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Distaff (G3) and the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3).

Among horses expected for the Classic is this year's Lane's End S. (G2) winner HOLD ME BACK (Giant's Causeway). Trained by Bill Mott, Hold Me Back most recently was second to Belmont S. (G1) winner Summer Bird (Birdstone) in the Travers S. (G1) over a sloppy track at Saratoga.

The 1 1/8-mile Classic would be Hold Me Back's first effort versus older horses. It also has significance as a prep for the November 7 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), which will be contested on the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita.

"The (Polytrack) surface was part of the reason for our decision to come (to Turfway)," Mott said. "He's done well there, and the timing was good for us."

Mott added that Hold Me Back "worked well this morning," referring to his five-eighths drill in 1:00 at Belmont Park Monday. The colt turned in the second fastest of 38 works at the distance on the fast main track.

Hold Me Back is scheduled to arrive at Turfway on Wednesday.

Also expected for the Classic is DUBIOUS MISS (E Dubai), who tracked a wire-to-wire winner to finish second in Arlington's Washington Park H. (G3) last time out.

"He ran real well in his last at Arlington," trainer Paul McGee said. "I do think he really likes the Polytrack. He also ran good on it at Keeneland (winning an allowance race in April 2008), so we thought we'd try him in this race at Turfway. The Arlington race was a mile and three-sixteenths, so the distance isn't a problem. And he's versatile -- he's won from off of it or on the lead.

"Calvin's never lost on him," McGee noted, and Borel will be back in the saddle Saturday.

Trainer Mark Hubley intends to bring YOUR ROUND (Distorted Humor) to the Classic field. The four-year-old has run well at Turfway in the past, finishing second last year in the WEBN S. and John Battaglia Memorial S. and second again this year in the Dust Commander S. Your Round has been off since April, when he was second in the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland.

"He's had a tendency to loaf if he does get the lead, and sometimes he just can't catch them," Hubley said of Your Round's propensity for runner-up finishes. "I think he's getting better as he gets older. We had to give him some time off over the summer. I always worry if they're fit enough coming off a layoff, but he's been good fresh, and this race is close to home. We'd like to get a graded stakes win with him or a piece of it."

Others expected for the Classic are FURTHEST LAND (Smart Strike) for trainer Mike Maker; GODOLPHIN GRAY (Explicit), Reta Underwood; JAZZ IN THE PARK (Ecton Park), Bobby Barnett; LET IT ROCK (Trippi), Judi Hicklin; SLIGOVITZ (Sligo Bay [Ire]), Roger Attfield; TIMELESS FASHION (Sky Classic), Tom Drury; and WICKED STYLE (Macho Uno), Rusty Arnold.

Nine appear headed to the Kentucky Cup Distaff, a 1 1/16-mile contest for fillies and mares, three years old and up. Among them is BEAR NOW (Tiznow), Canada's reigning champion older mare and winner of last year's Distaff. Trained then by Reade Baker, Bear Now was sold for $950,000 at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton fall mixed sale to Town and Country Farm and is now trained by Al Stall Jr. She has been off since finishing second, beaten a length, in the Iowa Distaff S. in late June.

The Distaff is also the planned next stop for the Mott-trained INDESCRIBABLE (Pleasant Tap). She has run well over Polytrack, winning the Doubledogdare S. (G3) at Keeneland and finishing third in the Arlington Matron H. (G3) this spring, but has not continued that form through the summer.

"She's been a little bit of a puzzle," Mott said. "It's frustrating, because she works well in the morning but hasn't run well in the afternoon. But she has been training well and we hope to get her back to where she was in the spring."

Proving Mott's point, Indescribable worked four furlongs in a bullet :48 over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track Monday morning, tying for the fastest of 43 moves at the distance.

As for Breeders' Cup plans, Mott said, "We would have to see a big turnaround for her."

Others expected for the Distaff are ABBY'S ANGEL (Touch Gold) for trainer Michael Stidham; DEVIL HOUSE (Chester House), Bruce Levine; FRENCH KISS (Hussonet), Gary Hartlage; MADLY (Stormin Fever), Jose Lopez; MS. MARGARET H., David Ashcraft; UNFORGOTTEN (Northern Afleet), Dallas Stewart; and WHIRLIE BERTIE (Stormin Fever), Steve Margolis.

Ten are probable for the Kentucky Cup Sprint, held at six furlongs for three-year-olds. Among them are TURFISTE (Military), trained by Bob Holthus and winner of this year's Hansel S. at Turfway, along with BIG PUSH (Black Mambo) and JU JITSU JAX (Tiger Ridge),  the respective one-two in the Gilded Time S. at Monmouth. Big Push is conditioned by Steve Klesaris, while Ju Jitsu Jax hails from the Scott Lake barn.

The filly DON'TTALKTOME (Cactus Ridge), winner of three filly stakes at Prairie Meadows, including the Iowa State Fair S. against older last out, would make her first start against males in the Sprint. She is trained by Hicklin.

Also looking toward the Sprint are DYNAMITE BOB (Malabar Gold) for Lopez; EL BRUJO (Candy Ride [Arg]), Malcolm Pierce; GUAM TYPHOON (Distorted Humor), Ian Wilkes; HAMAZING DESTINY (Salt Lake), D. Wayne Lukas; HIS GREATNESS (Honour and Glory), Marco Salazar; and HOLLYWOOD HIT (Cactus Ridge), Anita Bolton.

Saturday's card includes 16 races, 10 live at Turfway and six commingled by simulcast from Kentucky Downs, the country's only European-style turf course. The Kentucky Cup Distaff will be the 10TH race (approximate post time 4:58 p.m. EDT), the Kentucky Cup Sprint will be the 12TH race (5:51 p.m.), and the Kentucky Cup Classic will be the 13TH race (6:21 p.m.).

General admission is free on Kentucky Cup Day. Reserved seating is available from $5 to $100, with the top venue the VIP Paddock Pavilion between the paddock and the rail.


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