Prince of Wales Stakes
North America Cup
Del Mar Futurity
Del Mar Debutante
Joe Talamo celebrates aboard Imperador after winning the 2021 Calumet Turf Cup
Kentucky Downs in Franklin, just north of the Tennessee border on Interstate 65, is unique among North American racetracks in that it exclusively races over turf, a 1 3/8 mile irregularly shaped oval. With its Mint Gaming casino funding the purses for a very short fall meeting, the track pays out the highest average daily purses of any track on the continent. The second Saturday in September is the highlight of the meeting, with two $1 million events, both part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series. Conditions were excellent with partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid 80's, and the turf rated firm.
Imperador wins the Calumet Turf Cup.
Jockey Joe Bravo sent 31-1 Epic Bromance to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.75 and 48.60 while pressed by 15-1 Big Dreaming and stalked by Channel Cat. On the far turn Channel Cat gained a short lead on Epic Bromance through 3/4 in 1:13.15, 1 mile in 1:36.96, and 10f in 2:01.31. The fast pace took its toll on the lead pair as both tired in the stretch. 17-2 fourth choice Imperador, 8th early under Joe Talamo, came out 6 wide for room took over the lead at the 1/8 pole, and was all out to hold off late-running favorite Arklow by a neck in a new course record time of 2:25.70, 1.28 seconds faster than the previous record. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Glynn County third.
Left: Imperador in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Joe Talamo said, "He showed a good turn of foot. (Arklow) was coming pretty quick, but hats off to my horse, he did it all."
Right: Imperador in the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Paulo Lobo said, "I was expecting a huge effort, Lobo said. "He ran good at Churchill, the first time running a mile and a half here in America. He ran very good in New Jersey and he was doing very good for this race. In the Breeders' Cup we are going to be in deeper waters, but this horse I think is peaking at the right time. I think he is going to enjoy Del Mar. South American horses also like Del Mar."
Gear Jockey wins the FanDuel Turf Sprint Stakes
Jockey Flavien Prat sent 6-1 Bombard to the lead through fractions of 22.38 and 45.14 while pressed by 11-2 fourth choice Gear Jockey and stalked by 22-1 Diamond Oops. Turning for home, Gear Jockey came out 3 wide to take over the lead at the 3/16. Kept to task by Jose Lezcano, Gear Jockey drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Diamond Oops in a new course record 1:07.90, 1.25 seconds faster than the previous record. It was a nose back to pacesetter Bombard third, while favorite Got Stormy was 9th early and failed to rally finishing 6th beaten 3 1/4 lengths.
Left: Gear Jockey in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Jose Lezcano said, "He broke right on top and I let him follow (Bombard) and when I asked him at the three-sixteenths he took off again. At the quarter (pole) he had already taken me there, but at three-sixteenths I had to ask him because no one was coming and he might hang and fool around. The whole way he gave me the feeling that I had so much horse. When I asked him he really kicked on."
Right: Gear Jockey returns after the race. Winning trainer Rusty Arnold said, "He wasn't finishing his races like the way he was training for them. So I had a talk with (Calumet Farm general manager) Eddie Kane, and we decided to sprint him and let's see what happens. Things went the right way for him today. It was a huge effort. I'm proud of the way he showed up and today was the right day to show up. Sometimes these things work out and sometimes they don't. This time it did."
Left: Second place finisher Diamond Oops in the paddock before the race. He improved his record to 8 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 22 starts, earning $1,362,340 for owner-trainer Patrick Biancone and co-owners Diamond 100 Racing Club, Amy Dunne, and D.P. Racing.
Right: Third place finisher Bombard in the paddock before the race. The Richard Mandella trainee improved his record to 6 wins, 6 seconds, and 3 thirds in 19 starts, earning $552,771 for owner-breeder Raydelz Stable.
Sixth place finisher and beaten favorite Got Stormy in the paddock. Trainer Mark Casse said, "Tyler said she traveled great. Just, they were rolling. You've always heard me say that she likes hard ground. I think when she's sprinting she probably would actually like it a little softer. Today they were just a little too fast for her. But she's fine. We knew this was a tall task but this will get us ready for the Breeders' Cup (Mile). And so everything for us was timing and getting a good race into her. I just felt like, the First Lady was 1 1/16 miles, she can't do that. This was really the race and I knew that it would be a tall task. But I'm proud of her."
Princess Grace wins the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes
Jockey Mitchell Murrill sent 81-1 longest shot Sara Sea to the lead through fractions of 23.02, 46.66, and 1:10.79 while pressed by 26-1 Princess Causeway and stalked by 12-1 Shifty She. Turning for home favorite Princess Grace, 8th early under Florent Geroux, came out for room and swept to the lead through 7f in 1:22.23. Kept to task by Geroux, Princess Grace held off late-running Dalika to win by 1/2 a length in 1:34.25. It was a nose back to Abscond third.
Left: Princess Grace in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Florent Geroux said, "The hole opened up, but sometimes the horse might not be fast enough to take advantage of it. But she put us where we needed to be."
Right: Princess Grace in the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Mike Stidham said, "With the kind of horse she is, you worry but you're not as worried" after trailing the field early. She may go next in the First Lady (G1) at Keeneland.
Left: Second place finisher Dalika in the post parade. The Al Stall Jr. trainee improved her record to 7 wins, 6 seconds, and 0 thirds in 24 starts, earning $590,463 for owner Bal Mar Equine.
Right: Third place finisher Abscond in the paddock before the race. The Eddie Kenneally traine improved her record to 2 wins, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds in 12 starts, earning $365,781 for owner Apogee Racing.
In Good Spirits wins the Mint Ladies Sprint Stakes
Venetian Harbor was quickest away through an opening quarter of 22.33 before 68-1 Lagertha took over on the turn through a half in 45.88 while stalked by 15-1 In Good Spirits. Lagertha led to midstretch through 3/4 in 1:09.15 but In Good Spirits and jockey John Velazquez ralled on the inside to win by 2 lengths over late-running Catch a Bid in 1:15.35. It was another 1/2 length back to Lagertha third, while favorite Venetian Harbor tired late to finish 10th beaten 13 1/4 lengths.
Left: In Good Spirits heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey John Velazquez, celebrating his first win at Kentucky Downs said, "Anytime you win a race, it's doesn't matter where it is. A win is a win. She scared me a little bit today because she was a little too close. I didn't want to be that close. She broke so good, I had to wrestle her back a little bit to get her off the horses. Then she settled well. From the quarter pole, I saw (Hector Berrios on Lagertha) trying to get away a little sooner. I decided to let him go and hopefully I can get him coming down the lane. That's the way it worked out."
Right: In Good Spirits in the paddock. Winning trainer Al Stall Jr. said, "She's got a little bit more of a punch than she did going two turns. She's got some class. She's a fresh horse. We're looking forward to her 5-year-old year."
Left: Second place finisher Catch a Bid in the post parade. The Joe Sharp trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 14 starts, earning $390,734 for owner Highlander Training Center.
Right: Third place finisher Lagertha in the post parade. The Amador Merei Sanchez trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 5 seconds, and 2 thirds in 20 starts, earning $142,228 for owner-breeder Haras Matriarca.
The Lir Jet wins the Franklin-Simpson Stakes
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. sent 15-2 fourth choice Into the Sunrise to the front through fractions of 22.18, 45.46, and 1:09.11 while pressed by 40-1 Bodenheimer and stalked by County Final. In the stretch 9-1 The Lir Jet, 6th early under Tyler Gaffalione, found room inside to win by 1 3/4 lengths over 33-1 Easy Time in 1:15.88. It was a head back to 12-1 Fauci third, while Point Me By failed to rally and finished 7th beaten 3 1/4 lengths.
Left: The Lir Jet in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brendan Walsh said, "I hadn't had him a very long time, but he came to me in very good shape, made my job very easy. We just took him over when he got off the plane, and here we are. I thought he was very impressive. It looked like he was always in control, got a great ride. It worked out great. Third year in a row for (owner Sheikh Fahad). It's great to have him here. He's a great supporter of ours, and it's nice that he could come over and see the unique Kentucky Downs that it is."
Right: The Lir Jet in the paddock. Winning owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, celebrating three straight Franklin-Simpson wins said, "From the first year we won, I told Fergus (Galvin, Qatar Racing's U.S. racing manager) that we wanted to go again. And this year we figured out that this horse was ideal for this race. Tyler gave him an unbelievable ride. The one thing I asked Oisin Murphy, who rides him in England, and he said just make sure he's sitting third, fourth, and that he has something to aim at. He thought he was better than the (others) here, and he showed that today."
Left: Second place finisher Easy Time in the paddock. The Mark Casse trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 0 thirds in 6 starts, earning $235,453 for owner Breeze Easy LLC.
Right: Third place finisher Fauci in the post parade. The Philip Antonacci trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 5 seconds, and 1 third in 10 starts, earning $303,200 for owners Lindy Farms and Ice Wine Stable.
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