It’s rare that a race like Thursday’s $100,000 Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland could have Breeders’ Cup implications, but a win by Arklow in the 1 1/2-mile turf event could propel the four-year-old toward a start in the $4 million Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs on November 3.
Arklow, who broke his maiden over the Keeneland turf in April 2017 right before posting an upset of the American Turf (G2) at Churchill, is going good now. The Brad Cox trainee has won two straight, including the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) by a half-length over Grade 1 veteran and returning rival Bigger Picture last out.
“Preparing for the Turf, it is not about the fastest but the fittest,” said Cox following Arklow’s half-mile work last week at Churchill.
Bigger Picture, who lost the 2016 Sycamore by a nose, is one of two Mike Maker-trained horses in the field. The other is Oscar Nominated, who ran fifth in his title defense of the Kentucky Turf Cup as the 2-1 favorite. Both posted Grade 3 wins in January but have not won since.
Nessy, who lost the Sycamore by less than a length 12 months ago, was only seventh in the Kentucky Turf Cup but could improve returning to a course over which he’s placed in three of four starts. He registered his biggest win in April taking the about 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano (G3) at Santa Anita.
Teodoro won a Group 3 at Haydock in August but has been below par in two subsequent outings, though the highly soft ground at Belmont in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) last time might have worked against him. Multiple graded stakes winner Can’thelpbelieving has run second three times in as many tries at Keeneland and goes second off a 13-month layoff for Graham Motion.
The inconsistent Argentinean Group 1 winner Cooptado nearly posted a triple-digit odds upset of the Laurel Turf Cup last month, while Zulu Alpha has been in great form of late, albeit in allowance/optional claiming company. He debuts here for trainer John Ortiz after being claimed for $80,000 at Churchill.