The $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) highlights a big afternoon of racing Saturday at Kentucky Downs. It’s one of five stakes worth a combined $3.2 million at the all-turf venue and has attracted an overflow field of 14, including defending champion Arklow.
Along with the main event, the $700,000 Turf Sprint (G3), a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, will also be offered and turf champion Stormy Liberal will invade from Southern California for the six-furlong event.
Arklow recorded a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf two starts after posting a half-length decision in the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup. Brad Cox trains the five-year-old son of Arch and Arklow has kept good company in recent starts, finishing a neck second in both the Man o’ War (G1) and Belmont Gold Cup (G2) before a rallying second most recently in the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga. Florent Geroux retains the mount on the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Grade 1 winner Bigger Picture, second to Arklow last year and a six-time graded stakes victor for Mike Maker, is also back for the Turf Cup. Maker will also send out Grade 2 scorer Zulu Alpha, a neck second in the United Nations (G1) two back; and Noble Thought, fifth in the Sword Dancer (G1) last out. Other runners of interest include Campaign, winner of the Cougar II (G3) at Del Mar two back. The John Sadler trainee switches back to turf following a fifth in the Pacific Classic (G1).
Hero of the last two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Stormy Liberal will try to get back to his winning ways in the 10-horse Turf Sprint. The seven-year-old opened the year with a pair of seconds and has been third in his last two outings, the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai and August 17 Green Flash (G3) at Del Mar. Ricardo Santana Jr. will pick up the mount for Peter Miller on the 9-2 second choice.
Leinster brings a three-race win streak to the festivities and rates as a slight 3-1 favorite on oddsmaker Byron King’s morning line. The four-year-old has come on strong for Rusty Arnold since moving back to the turf three starts back, breaking his maiden in an entry-level allowance at Keeneland in his 14th career start, and Leinster has posted a sharp allowance tally at Churchill Downs and a win in the Troy (G3) at Saratoga in his last two outings. Tyler Gaffalione will be up.
Shakertown (G2) winner Imprimis, installed at 4-1, merits respect off a sixth in the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot. Grade 1 victor Wet Your Whistle, hard-knocking millionaire Undrafted and 2018 Turf Sprint runner-up White Flag are also part of an intriguing cast.
The stakes action kicks off with the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs and last-out Saratoga maiden winner Chimney Rock has been listed as the 7-2 choice among 12 runners for Maker and Jose Ortiz.
Grade 3 vixen Mitchell Road looks to rebound in the $500,000 Ladies Turf (G3) after having a four-race win streak snapped in the Diana (G1). The Bill Mott-trained filly will appreciate the class relief and Joel Rosario will be up in the one-mile test. Storm the Hill, a good nose second to Beau Recall in the August 3 Yellow Ribbon (G2) at Del Mar, and Wilshire (G3) heroine Simply Business are among the California-based distaffers in nine-horse field.
Ruby Notion will make a title defense in the $500,000 Ladies Sprint (G3) at 6 ½ furlongs but Oleksandra will probably go favored following a nice win in the Smart N Fancy at Saratoga.