We are back in action next Thursday with opening day at Belmont Park, but it was hard to resist a trip to Kentucky Downs on Saturday were there are five stakes including a pair of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races.
Kentucky Downs races just six days a year, with large purses, a unique European styled turf course and big fields. The track is also horseplayer friendly with lower than average takeout rates including 15% Pick 5’s and 14% Pick 4’s.
There is over $15 million in purses offered during the six days of the meet including three $1 million dollar races. One of those is Saturday’s $1 million Calumet Turf Cup (G2).
The Turf Cup drew a full field with the winner earning a free spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), which is now less than two months away at Del Mar on Nov. 5 and 6.
The Brad Cox trained Arklow is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The seven-year-old has won the race twice, in 2018 and again last year. He comes into this year with less than stellar form with a sixth and a seventh in his last two outings.
The co-feature on Saturday is the $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint (G3), with the winner earning an automatic starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
EA full field of 12 will go six furlongs on turf. Casa Creed is the 7-2 morning line favorite for Hall of Fame Trainer Bill Mott. He is cutting back from a mile where last out he was third in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga behind Got Stormy.
The other stakes on the card are the $600,000 Franklin Simpson (G2), the $750,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) and the $600,000 Mint Ladies Sprint (G3).
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KENTUCKY DOWNS 8 ANALYSIS (4:09 P.M. CT)
Kentucky Downs Race 8 The FanDuel Turf Sprint G3
3 Bombard 10-1
9 Got Stormy 9-2
2 Fast Boat 10-1
7 Casa Creed 7-2
Analysis: Bombard The Mandella trainee makes his first start since May where he took the field gate to wire to win the Daytona (G3) at Santa Anita going 6 ½ furlongs on turf. The runner up Majestic Eagle was second in the Wicker in his most recent start, the third-place finisher Commander was beaten a half-length when second in the Simon Lure in his next start and the fourth-place finisher Law Abiding Citizen won the Oak Tree Sprint in his next outing and then was fourth beaten ¾ of a length in the Bing Crosby (G1). Our top pick set the fractions in this race last year and was beaten just a neck when landing in a deadheat for second over soft ground. He is better on firmer ground which he is going to get today and he faces a group without a ton of early zip despite the large field. The gelding has been working well for his return off a 3 ½ month break for Mandella who is 29% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61–180-day break. If he can shake loose early, he could be tough to catch.
Got Stormy She takes on the boys again and has run well in open company. Last out at a mile she tracked the early pace and finished gamely to win the Fourstardave ‘Cap (G1) at Saratoga. She won the Ladies Sprint (G3) here last year over soft ground at 6 ½ furlongs. Her fifth in the Jaipur (G1) two back was her lone trip at six furlongs but she has won graded stakes at both 5 ½ and 6 ½. Coming off an outstanding Spa meeting Gaffalione has had a rough start to this meet going 1 for 25 through the first three days. He needs to keep her a bit closer here and should be a threat in the stretch.
Fast Boat This gelding is coming off a career top winning the Troy last out going 5 ½ furlongs at Saratoga. Last year Imprmis used the Troy as a prep coming back to win this race. The gelding has one trip over the turf here, winning a starter allowance race back in 2019. He seems to be best at 5 or 5 ½ furlongs but sure seems like he should appreciate the extra half furlong and the long stretch here. Sharp is sending out live runners winning three races over the first three days of the meet. Rosario picks up the call and the 10-1 morning line looks fair enough.
WIN: Bombard to win at 6-1 or better
EXACTA: 3,9 / 2,3,9 and 3 / 2,7,9,12
KENTUCKY DOWNS 9 ANALYSIS (4:44 CT)
Kentucky Downs Race 9 The Calumet Turf Cup (G2)
3 Channel Cat 9-2
1 Imperador 15-1
2 Crossfirehurricane 20-1
5 Arklow 3-1
Analysis: Channel Cat The Sisterson trainee was our top pick in the Bowling Green (G2) last out at Saratoga and after setting the early fractions he weakened in the stretch to check in fourth going 1 3/8 miles over good ground. The top pair in the race came back to run third and fourth in the Sword Dancer (G1) in their next outings. Three back our top pick won the Man O’ War (G1) at Belmont Park over good ground at 1 3/8 miles. The six-year-old is 1 for 7 at today’s 1 ½ mile distance with a second and a third. His win over the grass here came in the 2018 Dueling Grounds Derby while in the Pletcher barn. He is in capable hands with the underrated Sisterson barn and being up on the lead here usually is where you want to be on this course.
Imperador This five-year-old stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in the United Nations (G1) last out at Monmouth Park, beaten two lengths by a very sharp Tribhuvan. The winner came back with a disappointing effort in a fifth-place finish in the Sword Dancer. Two others did exit the U.N. to win stakes next out, Serve the King winning the John’s Call at Saratoga and Ocean’s Map winning the Cape Henlopen at Delaware Park. The Lobo trainee is 0 for 5 since landing in the U.S. from Argentina where is won a couple of G1 races. He came up three lengths short to Arklow two back when sixth in the Louisville (G3) at this distance but willing to give him one more look here as he is going to end up a generous price.
Crossfirehurricane This colt has made two starts in the U.S. and was off poorly in both. He ran last in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) two back in his U.S. debut which was off an eight-month layoff. Last out off a three month break he was off poorly, came wide into the stretch and checked in eighth while beaten two lengths in the Del Mar ‘Cap (G2) at 1 3/8 miles. Prat picks up the call as he makes his third start for McCarthy and stretches out to 1 ½ miles. He won the Gallinule Stakes (G3) at the Curragh last June at 1 ¼ miles, then was 10th in the Irish Derby (G1) where he was sent off at 8-1. Another move forward for this guy can put him in the mix here at he is going to get overlooked in the betting.
WIN: Channel Cat to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 1,3 / 1,2,3,5 and 3 / 1,2,5,9
Good luck today!