June 18, 2024

Gufo tops Kentucky Turf Cup; Ladies Turf features rematch, Mint Million brought back

Gufo repeats in the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Sword Dancer (Photo by Chris Rahayel/Coglianese Photos)

Six graded stakes highlight a dynamite 12-race program Saturday at Kentucky Downs. The $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) and $750,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) were originally scheduled, and the $1 million Mint Million (G3) has been brought back after being canceled due to adverse weather conditions at the all-turf venue last Saturday.

Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) – Race 10 (5:45 p.m. ET)

A rallying winner of the Aug. 27 Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga, Gufo will wheel back off 14-days rest for the Kentucky Turf Cup. The Christophe Clement-trained five-year-old horse is the one to beat among 13 entrants, including an also-eligible, and Joel Rosario retains the assignment.

The 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup is a “Win & You’re In” for the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland on Nov. 5, and Gufo isn’t the only Clement runner making his anticipated final prep for the Breeders’ Cup. The East Coast-based conditioner will also send out Big Invasion, a Turf Sprint (G1) contender, in the $600,000 Franklin-Simpson (G2) one race after the Turf Cup.

An earner of more than $1.9 million, Gufo is a three-time Grade 1 winner. The Kentucky-bred chestnut son of Declaration of War owns a 6-4-0-1 record at the 1 1/2-mile distance, and Gufo will look to mow down his rivals in the final furlongs.

Grade 1 victor Arklow, a two-time Turf Cup winner and a neck second in last year’s edition, is back once again for Mike Maker. The eight-year-old enters in encouraging form, most recently recording a half-length second in the July 31 Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga, and the bay son of Arch has never finished worse than second from four previous attempts over the course (2-2-0). Florent Geroux guides the classy closer.

Maker is also responsible for Grade 2 winner Temple; last-out Colonial Cup winner Red Knight, runner-up to Arklow in the 2020 Turf Cup; 2021 Turf Cup third Glynn County; and Keystone Field.

Breakpoint will invade for Neil Drysdale following a wire-to-wire win in the June 19 San Juan Capistrano (G3) at Santa Anita. Multiple Grade 3 victor Admission Office and Highest Honors, third versus stakes foes last out for Chad Brown, are also part of the mix.

Mint Million (G3) – Race 5 (2:45 p.m. ET)

Ten were reentered for the Mint Million, including eight of the nine from last Saturday’s program, and multiple graded stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown is an intriguing new face following a win in the off-the-turf West Point S. at Saratoga on Aug. 26.

Pixelate, a 2 1/2-length scorer in the one-mile affair last year, will be back for a title defense. The five-year-old exits a neck third in his seasonal opener, the July 16 Prince George’s County at Laurel Park, and the stalker merits serious respect for Michael Stidham and Rosario.

Jose Ortiz will be up on the speedy Somelikeithotbrown for Maker, who will send out three of the nine runners. Multiple graded-winning millionaire Field Pass and Grade 2 runner-up Atone will also represent Maker, who leads all conditioners with six wins this meet and is seeking his third consecutive training title at Kentucky Downs.

Other runners include Gray’s Fable and Mr Dumas, the 1-2 finishers in the Aug. 7 Evan Williams Turf Mile at Ellis Park; and Fair Grounds S. (G3) winner Cavalry Charge.

Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) – Race 8 (4:30 p.m. ET)

Dalika and Princess Grace, the 1-2 finishers in the Aug. 13 Beverly D. (G1) at Churchill Downs, will resume their rivalry in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf. The one-mile affair is a rubber match between the classy distaffers, as Princess Grace edged Dalika by a half-length when capturing last year’s Ladies Turf.

Brian Hernandez Jr. will guide Dalika for Al Stall Jr., and Geroux has the call on Princess Grace for Stidham.

Ten fillies and mares will head to the starting gate, and Hendy Woods is a contender for Mark Casse following a one-length triumph in the July 9 Indiana General Assembly Distaff at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The five-year-old mare has shown an affinity for the Franklin, Kentucky turf, winning her lone appearance in last year’s One Dreamer S., and Julien Leparoux will ride.

Flippant, Lady Speightspeare, and Market Rumor are other runners of interest.