February 27, 2021

Arklow flirts with course record in Hollywood Turf Cup

Arklow wins the Hollywood Turf Cup in Del Mar stakes-record time © BENOIT PHOTO

Friday’s $203,500 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar turned out to be a formful affair, with 19-10 favorite Arklow leading home 2.60-1 Laccario and the 6-1 Say the Word in a trifecta forecast by their odds. Their common appeal was top form from points East, best represented by Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Arklow who was coming off a sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland.

Trained by Brad Cox for Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and the Estate of Peter Coneway, Arklow was given a heady ride by Joel Rosario. The 6-year-old initially raced a few lengths off the modest tempo set by Acclimate through fractions of :24.51 and :49.64. But as Arklow began to get on the muscle passing the stands for the first time, Rosario allowed him to press forward on the rail.

Thus Arklow smoothly advanced into second entering the clubhouse turn, perched right in the wake of Acclimate by the 6-furlong split in 1:14.55. Rosario also took the opportunity to move off the rail and into the outside prompting spot when it presented itself on the backstretch, and the favorite was poised to pounce when the pace quickened.

Acclimate, who had not raced since his ninth in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf, was still traveling well within himself while clocking the mile in 1:38.78. But Arklow appeared to have his measure, tackling the longtime leader into the homestretch and gradually edging away. Laccario, who had taken over the rail path vacated by Arklow, tipped out to rally and reduced the deficit to a half-length. Say the Word rolled from too far back to grab third, another half-length astern, and Acclimate stubbornly held fourth.

Arklow reeled off 1 1/2 miles in 2:26.31, by far the fastest of the seven Hollywood Turf Cups staged at its new home of Del Mar, and just a whisker off the course record. That mark of 2:26.19 was established by French shipper Talismanic in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf. With the 2021 Breeders’ Cup returning to Del Mar, this result could be worth remembering next fall.

Red King, himself exiting a ninth in the Nov. 7 Turf, closed belatedly for fifth. Defending champion Oscar Dominguez, Ward ‘n Jerry, Another Mystery, Proud Pedro, North County Guy, Gregorian Chant, and Tartini rounded out the order under the wire. The scratches were Fivestar Lynch and Marckie’s Water, who was cross-entered to Saturday’s 1ST race.

Arklow, who has won or placed in a total of 13 stakes, sports a mark of 31-8-7-2 and a bankroll worth $2,666,116. Hero of the 2017 American Turf (G2), the son of Arch most notably captured the 2018 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) and 2019 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1). He’d become somewhat disappointing since, but the addition of blinkers woke him up this fall, and he responded to regain his Kentucky Turf Cup title at Kentucky Downs. In hindsight, Arklow might have preferred more aggressive tactic in the Breeders’ Cup, and the Hollywood Turf Cup got him back on track.

“He broke well and we got a good spot,” said Rosario, who was aboard for the first time. “I stepped on the brakes a little bit because I was comfortable where we were. I saved ground with him, then moved up a little bit outside. I could tell we were going slow, so I felt OK being closer with him. He was running good. When we turned for home, I knew he was a fighter and I knew he’d be tough to beat. He finished strong. He’s a good horse.”

“It kind of worked out the way we had drawn it up,” said Blake Cox, his father’s assistant. “Joel was able to get a real good stalking position and then finish strong. What’s next will be up to Jerry Crawford and Donegal Racing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) is on the radar.”

Considering that Arklow was a respectable fifth after early trouble in the 2020 Pegasus Turf, the rejuvenated campaigner would rank as a prime player in the Jan. 23 renewal at Gulfstream Park.

Arklow was bred by John R. Penn and Frank Penn in Kentucky. The $160,000 Keeneland September yearling is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Maraud, whose signature win came in the 2018 American Turf. They were produced by Unbridled Empire, an Empire Maker half-sister to Grade 1 scorers Fourty Niners Son and Cindy’s Hero. This is the further family of Hall of Famers Arts and Letters and Silverbulletday.