Editor’s note: Byron King is a freelance turf writer, publicist and handicapper based in Louisville who is creating the Kentucky Downs’ morning-line odds and analyzing the stakes races as part of the RUNHAPPY Meet’s publicity team. Horseplayers and racing enthusiasts across the country are well familiar with King’s writing, reporting and wagering acumen from his years of work for Daily Racing Form, including covering and handicapping Kentucky Downs for the past two decades. He also brings in the knowledge of being a horse owner with extensive bloodstock experience.
Follow Byron King on Twitter @ByronKingRacing.
$500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes
Two $500,000 stakes bring a close to the five-day RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs on Thursday, beginning with the eighth race, the Ramsey Farm for older fillies and mares at 1 5/16 miles, and followed by the male sprinters in the ninth race with the 6 ½-furlong Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson.
GENTLE RULER (#6, 5-2) brings a form edge into the Ramsey Farm, winning four in a row before a close fourth in the Grade 3 Waya at Saratoga Aug. 4. In a pair of those victories, she defeated GAINING (#1, 3-1), her principal rival in Thursday’s race.
The latter came to the U.S. with a high-quality reputation, having won a Group 3 race in France late last year for owner/breeder Juddmonte Farm. Backed to favoritism in each of her three races in America, she has settled for minor awards, twice finishing second and once third. In head-to-head matchups with GENTLE RULER, she was beaten three-quarters of a length in the Keertana at Churchill, then by three lengths in the Robert Dick Memorial at Delaware Park.
OVER THINKING (#8, 12-1) woke up with a near miss in stakes company last month at Del Mar, her best effort since she rattled off a pair of allowance victories last fall. She is also a prior winner over the unique Kentucky Downs course.
LEMOONA (#5, 8-1) was a minor stakes winner at Santa Anita going 1 ¼ miles in June before running last of six in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar, though she was only beaten 4 ½ lengths. Her form is improved in 2019, winning two of her last four starts.
$500,000 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson
A race later in the Grade 3 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson, ARCHIDUST (#1, 2-1) figures to be tough to beat in this 6 ½-furlong grass dash, particularly with Casa Creed, who looked like one of his chief rivals, to be scratched from the initial entries. He is two for two in grass stakes after transitioning from dirt racing. Both of these wins came in ungraded races, contests he dominated while recording lofty speed figures.
THE LAST ZIP (#4, 8-1) cuts back in distance out of short routes, where he has been performing well in top company. He was a dead-heat second in the American Derby in July before running third in the Grade 1 Secretariat over a mile. He began his career as a turf sprinter, and progeny of his sire, City Zip, are often quite versatile.
LEGENDS OF WAR (#5, 12-1) put it all together to narrowly win a first-level allowance at Del Mar in quick time Aug. 3, his first triumph in five starts in America. He was imported to the U.S. from Britain after a promising 2-year-old season that saw him win a couple races and place in a Group 2 stakes.
POLE SETTER (#3, 12-1), given two months off after a disappointing fifth in the one-mile Manila Stakes at Belmont July 4, fits if one excuses that race. He won the 7-furlong Paradise Creek a start before that, and was also a brave allowance winner in the slop at Keeneland in the spring. He was sixth in his lone start over this course last year, though in the lucrative Kentucky Downs Juvenile, a race won by eventual Grade 1 winner Henley’s Joy.