December 1, 2022

Ready to Purrform tops Dueling Grounds Derby; New Year’s Eve the one to beat in Oaks

Ready to Purrform wins the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

Sunday’s 11-race program at Kentucky Downs features a pair of lucrative stakes for three-year-olds.

Dueling Grounds Derby (G3) – Race 10 (6:31 p.m. ET)

Upgraded to Grade 3 status this year, the $750,000 Dueling Grounds Derby (G3) attracted an overflow of 14 entrants. Only 12 will be allowed to start in the 1 5/16-mile turf affair, and Ready to Purrform has been established as a 3-1 morning line favorite following a 1 1/4-length, wire-to-wire triumph in the Aug. 5 Hall of Fame (G2) at Saratoga.

Brad Cox trains the Kitten’s Joy colt, and Joel Rosario retains the mount on the two-time stakes winner. Ready to Purrform will break from the far outside post (12).

Grade 3 victor Grand Sonata, a close fourth in the Belmont Derby (G1) two back, will look to rebound after an eighth in the Saratoga Derby (G1). A two-time stakes winner for Todd Pletcher, the dark bay son of Medaglia d’Oro will employ stalking tactics with Tyler Gaffalione.

Double Clutch may have more to offer for Rusty Arnold in his third stakes appearance. A nice maiden winner at Keeneland three back, the bay colt recorded a good second when making his stakes debut in the Manila two back, and Double Clutch exits a decent fifth in the Hall of Fame. Florent Geroux takes over the reins.

Running Bee invades for Chad Brown following a convincing turf maiden win at Saratoga and adds the services of Vincent Cheminaud. Stakes winners Kitodan and Red Run are also part of the mix, and Dripping Gold will wheel back off 10 days rest for Shug McGaughey following a second in a Saratoga allowance.

Dueling Grounds Oaks – Race 9 (5:57 p.m. ET)

Grade 2 winner New Year’s Eve, a solid third in the Aug. 7 Saratoga Oaks (G3), is listed as the 3-1 choice in the $500,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks. Sixteen sophomore fillies, including a quartet of also-eligibles, passed through the entry box for the 1 5/16-mile turf test.

A convincing winner of the Edgewood (G2) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, New Year’s Eve will remove blinkers after missing by two lengths in the Saratoga Oaks. Gaffalione will be up on the late-running chestnut daughter of Kitten’s Joy for Brendan Walsh.

Turnerloose, a convincing winner of the 2021 Aristocrat Juvenile Fillies S. at Kentucky Downs, will return to the Franklin, Kentucky venue in good form, missing by a half-length in the Aug. 7 Centennial Distaff Turf Mile at Ellis Park. Geroux has the call for Cox.

Stakes winner Vergara merits respect for Graham Motion following a head second in the Aug. 6 Ontario Cotillion (G3) at Woodbine. Rosario pilots the early/presser. A close second in the Selene (G3) last out, Catiche will switch from Tapeta to turf for Jonathan Thomas. Other runners of interest include stakes-placed Beechnut Trophy and juvenile Grade 2 scorer California Angel, who will make her first start since mid-March.