Muqtaser can pad McLaughlin's Kentucky Downs stats
Jennie Rees

FRANKLIN, Ky. (Friday, September 8, 2017) — Out of his 6,926 lifetime starters at the racetrack, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has run only three horses at Kentucky Downs.

But he’ll have two Saturday, most importantly Muqtaser in the $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup for Shadwell Stable, which also has Mutazen in a $145,000 second-level allowance race.

“We’re excited to be there. I think if you look back in the history, Shadwell and McLaughlin won one of the first runnings of this race,” McLaughlin said by phone, adding with a laugh, “So we are familiar with Kentucky Downs.”

That would be Fahris, the 1999 winner back when the purse was $300,000, with no additional money coming from Kentucky-bred purse enhancements, and not far removed from when the track was named Dueling Grounds and shut down for two years before its sale.

Muqtaser comes into the 1 1/2-mile Kentucky Turf Cup off two Saratoga allowance victories at 1 3/8 miles. The horse started out in England and apparently was such a handful that he was sent to the United States and gelded. The Kentucky Turf Cup is Muqtaser’s first stakes since running in minor races in England, where he won the $18,700 Slug & Lettuce Midweek Meet Handicap Stakes at Sundown Park.

“He’s not an easy horse to ride, and Joe Bravo has done a great job on him in the afternoon,” McLaughlin said referencing the jockey who has guided Muqtaser to a close second and those Saratoga victories in his past three starts after the horse lost by 32 and 29 lengths last winter on the dirt at Aqueduct. “He’s tough to train and ride. But he’s doing really well, and we’re happy to be in that race, thinking he might like that course.

“Like I said, this horse is doing great.”

Muqtaser is beautifully bred. He is a son of the prominent stallion Distorted Humor and out of the Tiznow mare Life Well Lived, who also is the mom of Keeneland’s Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile winner American Patriot. Also from that female family is Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed.

Miss Temple City gallops ‘great’

Miss Temple City will be one of — if not the most — accomplished horses to race at Kentucky Downs when she goes in Saturday’s $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, which enjoys Grade 3 status for the first time. The 5-year-old mare is the even-money favorite, with trainer Graham Motion hoping to get the three-time Grade 1 winner back to her old self after she was well-beaten when running for the third time at Britain’s Royal Ascot meet and then upset as the odds-on favorite in Monmouth Park’s Grade 3 Matchmaker.

The ultimate goal is a stakes at Keeneland, where last year Miss Temple City made a career of sidestepping champion Tenpin at the Lexington track, instead beating the boys in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile and $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile.

“She seems good, she settled in really nicely,” said assistant trainer Alice Clapham, who accompanied Miss Temple City to Kentucky. “She seems to be taking everything in stride. She galloped great on the track this morning, so we’re happy. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

“She’s like the barn favorite. She’s been in our barn since she was 2, and she’s 5 now. Everybody knows her and everybody loves her. She’s been a great horse for us and great fun for us.”

The Ascot trips took Clapham back to her native England. Miss Temple City had been a good fourth when running there at 3 and 4, but the Group 1 Queen Ann in the mare’s 5-year-old debut was the only time in her career that she did not run well.

“Maybe it was just one of those days,” Clapham said. “She got a little wound up in the paddock, which she hadn’t done the year before. Maybe she was a little fresh. I think we just put a line through it.”

Bucket lists being filled

Even without racing Friday, out-of-state fans came to check out the track, using the same words: Kentucky Downs was on their bucket list of things to do during their life.

One person was Bruce Micklus from Missoula, Montana. A huge racing fan, he got tickets to come two years ago. But right before he was to fly out, he got a call from Kentucky Downs’ Rick Albright, advising that the races had been canceled because of heavy rain.

“So I didn’t come that year, and it saved me a couple, three thousand dollars in travel and everything,” Micklus said. “So I came last year by myself, and I was just blown away by the beauty, the whole atmosphere. I made a promise to myself that I would never miss this race meet ever again. So I’m back this year and brought a friend, who runs the Montana simulcast sites. We came in and caught half of Wednesday’s races and are tickled pink.”

Micklus said the large crowds of Del Mar and Saratoga can make those venues uncomfortable.

“This site is so fantastic,” he said. “It’s like a dream. I’d seen it on television, and that’s what I wanted to do… It reminds us of our fairs where we used to have racing. You’d imagine that if you’d build something, you’d build it just like this. The course is wonderful and different. We sit in the Finish Line tent and have the time of our lives.”

Said his buddy, Nick Alonzo, “Everything I expected; it all came true.”

On the air, on the ’net

Kentucky Downs analyst Caton Bredar talked with John Engelhardt on Winning Ponies. https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/102242/hof-jockey-sandy-hawley-award-winning-journalist-caton-bredar (32:00)

Joe Kristufek, analyst and Kentucky Downs’ oddsmaker, will be on Ralph Siraco’s Race Day Las Vegas at 10:15 a.m. Central Saturday. Tune in at www.racedaylasvegas.com.

Saturday’s stakes quartet

Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3)
Post time: 4:18 p.m. CT
Purse: $350,000 ($200,000 KTDF)
Distance: mile
pp horse (weight) jockey/trainer odds
1 Beauty (125) Graham/Walsh 6-1
2 Linda (121) Hernandez/Wilkes 5-1
3 Hone In (121) Court/V. Oliver 30-1
4 Zipessa (121) Bravo/Stidham 7-2
5 Miss Temple City (121) Prado/Motion 1-1
6 Majestic Angel (121) Geroux/Reed 30-1
7 Susie Bee (125) Gaffalione/Maker 8-1
8 Seeking Paradise (121) Landeros/Sharp 30-1

Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint
Post time: 4:46 p.m. Central.
Purse: $350,000 ($200,000 KTDF)
Distance: 6 1/2 furlongs
pp horse (weight) jockey/trainer odds
1 Mississippi Delta (125) Leparoux/Casse 3-1
2 Fair Point (121) J. Ortiz/McGaughey 7-2
3 Corby (121) Rocco/Walsh 20-1
4 Miss Gossip (121) Lanerie/McKeever 15-1
5 Lull (118) Hernandez/Clement 5-1
6 Morticia (122) Lezcano/Arnold 9-2
7 Sea Cloud (121) Albarado/Walsh 30-1
8 Scatter Gun (121) Geroux/Pessin 15-1
9 Marquee Miss (121) Graham/Mason 10-1
10 Happy Mesa (122) Gaffalione/Maker 15-1
11 Marquee Cal Gal (121) Gilligan/Sims 10-1

Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3)
Post time: 5:14 p.m. Central
Purse: $400,000 ($200,000 KTDF)
Distance: 6 1/2 furlongs
pp horse (weight) jockey/trainer odds
1 Commend (123) J. Ortiz/Mott 4-1
2 Indy Hill (118) Court/Lukas 30-1
3 Black Bear (121) Albarado/Morse 15-1
4 Tell All You Know scratched
5 Bondurant (121) Hernandez/Wilkes 7-2
6 Wyeth (121) Van Dyke/Amoss 8-1
7 Undrafted (121) Gaffalione/Ward 9-2
8 Crewman (121) Landeros/Poulos 20-1
9 Mikes the Man (121) Miranda/Moss 50-1
10 Hogy (125) Geroux/Maker 5-2
11 Dimension (121) Graham/Murphy 30-1

Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3)
Post time: Saturday at 5:42 p.m. Central
Purse: $600,000 ($300,000 KTDF)
Distance: 1 1/2 miles
pp horse (weight) jockey/trainer odds
1 Postulation (123) Vergas/Graham 9-2
2 Lucky Ramsey (121) Hill/Morse 30-1
3 Muqtaser (123) Bravo/McLaughlin 6-1
4 Oscar Nominated (121) Leparoux/Maker 7-2
5 Crescent Drive (121) Mena/Amoss 20-1
6 Zulu Alpha (121) Albarado/Fernandez 30-1
7 Enterprising (123) Lanerie/Maker 3-1
8 Bullards Alley (121) Pedroza/Glyshaw 12-1
9 One Go All Go (121) Cannon/Matejka 20-1
10 St. Louie (123) Gaffalione/Maker 30-1
11 Taghleeb (123) J. Ortiz/Maker 5-1
12 Nessy (121) Hernandez/Wilkes 20-1
KTDF: Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund