Kentucky Downs has been awarded its second Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series stakes for the 2021 race meet in early September. For the first time, the $1 million Calumet Turf Cup (G2) will be a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), joining the $1 million Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3) that two years ago became an automatic qualifier for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). “There already were a million reasons for owners and trainers to send their turf sprinter or distance grass horse to Kentucky Downs," said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs' Vice President for Racing. "Now there’s even more incentive."
Kentucky Downs only races six days, but the all-grass track has super-sized representation in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this Friday and Saturday at Keeneland Race Course.
A total of 15 horses who raced at Kentucky Downs’ meet in early September are in the body of the seven Breeders’ Cup turf races, with three grass events for 2-year-olds on Friday and four for 3-year-olds and older horses on Saturday. Three other runners at the 2020 meet are in Breeders' Cup dirt races.
Michael Hui’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Zulu Alpha added another chapter to his success story, slipping through an opening along the rail in deep stretch to pass Irish import Magic Wand and go on to an 11-1 upset of Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park. It was Zulu Alpha's second $1 million win, following his triumph in Kentucky Downs' Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup over 2018 winner Arklow.
Having beaten America's best 1 1/2-mile turf specialists in his last start, Donegal Racing's Grade 1-winning turf star Arklow takes on the world next in the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. “I don’t know if Arklow can beat Bricks and Mortar or the Europeans,” said Arklow’s trainer Brad Cox. “But I do know that Arklow is coming into the race 100 percent physically and just had one of the finest workouts in his life at Churchill on Saturday.”
Michael Hui is parlaying some of the money that Zulu Alpha won in taking Kentucky Downs’ $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup into a $100,000 bet on the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. “If the Breeders’ Cup was in Kentucky, it would have been a no-brainer," the owner said. "What makes it easier to do this is that very lucrative purse that we got the majority of at Kentucky Downs.”
Peace Achieved is unbeaten in three starts with blinkers and jockey Miguel Mena, a streak his team hopes to continue in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. "You almost feel like he’s holding something back as well, that there’s a bit more in the tank if you dig down," says assistant trainer David Carroll. "So we’re excited about him.”
Joe Minor's 2-year-old Peace Achieved, winner of Kentucky Downs' $500,000 Gainesway Farm Juvenile, won his third straight race Sunday at Keeneland, holding off the late-running Vitalogy by a neck in the $250,000, Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon. With the victory in the 1 1/16-mile grass stakes, Peace Achieved earned an entry-fees paid berth in the $1 million Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
The one time underachieving Totally Boss is now a graded stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup contender after running off to a 1 ¼-length victory over Smart Remark in the Grade 3, $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs on Saturday. The six-furlong Turf Sprint was a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and one of five stakes races – four of which were graded – on the Kentucky Downs lineup.
Stormy Liberal, the two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, is scheduled to run in the $700,000, Grade 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint, one of five graded stakes to be held at the upcoming RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs. “Big purse and it fits into his schedule,” said trainer Peter Miller. “The ‘Win and You’re In’ is always a factor, sure."
Bound for Nowhere had never been beyond six furlongs, but owner-trainer Wesley Ward was more than willing to take a shot. And now he’s bound for the bank after Bound For Nowhere and jockey Julio Garcia defeated Great Wide Open by a length in Saturday’s featured $681,400 Tourist Mile, presented by WinStar Farm, on opening day Kentucky Downs.
Debbie Blair, known throughout the horse industry for her world-class event management experience, has joined the Kentucky Downs team as director of group sales. Blair will market Kentucky Downs’ reserved-seating areas to groups of at least 10 people, including the new Top of the Stretch Chalet, a casual, open-air venue devoted entirely to groups. The other reserved areas — the Turf Club Tent, Finish Line Pavilion and Director’s Room — also offer individual tickets, with groups receiving a discounted rate.
You never want to get too far ahead of yourself when plotting out a schedule for a 9-year-old horse. But owner Michael Hui and trainer Mike Maker, who claimed the gelding for $80,000 last summer, do have one spot firmly penciled in for Hogy: Kentucky Downs’ 2018 meet. Yet to be determined is which race.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo that’s less and not been a dead-heat,” Jeff Bloom, who heads the partnership that campaigns Snapper Sinclair, said of the narrow defeat in the Fair Grounds' Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes. “What was so tough is he was in front, in front, in front — missed it — in front, in front. It was like the only time the other horse got the head bob.
Record-setting Dueling Grounds Oaks winner Daddys Lil Darling finally got her Grade 1, but trainer Kenny McPeek doesn't discount that she'll back back at Kentucky Downs -- perhaps against males.
"Snapper was so impressive breaking his maiden at Saratoga, so to come to that race at Kentucky Downs and perform as well as he did with the added distance, and to dominate the way he did, solidified what we always felt: That this is a very talented horse" -- owner Jeff Bloom
'At this stage of her career, I don’t think we’re really going around to look for the easier spot. I think we’ve kind of got her back on track, and we’re looking to take on all challengers' -- trainer Graham Motion on Miss Temple City
“It just goes to show the caliber of horse that runs at Kentucky Downs. And more importantly, the horses come back well…. I don’t think it mattered what she ran on." -- David Carroll, assistant trainer to Mark Casse
Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg is running Ellis Park Juvenile runner-up Northern Trail and Make Noise in Kentucky Downs' $350,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile.