With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships less than a month away, horses coming out of races at Kentucky Downs were in the spotlight the past two weekends while taking prep races at Breeders’ Cup host site Keeneland, Belmont Park and Pimlico. Kentucky Downs’ racing program produced its two latest Grade 1 winners with Harvey’s Lil Goil taking Keeneland’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup this past Saturday, a week after Ivar captured Keeneland’s $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile. Harvey’s Lil Goil, with Martin Garcia riding for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, turned the tables on Micheline in the QEII, reversing the 1-2 finish in Kentucky Downs’ $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks.
Moon Over Miami, who needed a scratch the morning of the race to make it into the race, engaged front-runner Big Dreaming in mid-stretch and powered home to win Thursday’s 1 5/16-mile, $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby by a half-length under Javier Castellano at the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. “We sort of took a shot sending him down, hoping that well, maybe, hoping in time, somebody would scratch,” said Kenny McCarthy, who oversees trainer Bill Mott's Churchill Downs division. “They said we could stay in until 10 a.m. So we just sent him down with our fingers crossed. It doesn’t often work out like that. We got a little bit of racing luck in every which way.”