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Diego Sanchez celebrates his win in the Kentucky Cup Sprint aboard Piratesonthelake.
The Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park is the highlight of the Fall Meet, featuring prep races for five of the Breeders' Cup divisions. Racing conditions were ideal on Saturday, with sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 70's, and an estimated crowd of 13,640 came out to witness one of the biggest racing days in the Cincinnati area.
The $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3) saw a field of eleven older horses sprinting 6 furlongs on the Polytrack. Arlington Sprint Handicap winner Piratesonthelake was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 3-1 Base Commander, winner of an allowance last out at Arlington and making his stakes debut. 9-2 Pauillac was the third choice, coming off a badly beaten ninth to Hard Spun in the King's Bishop at Saratoga last time out.
In deep stretch where you can see Piratesonthelake has the lead in the middle. All you can see at the finish is his nose out front.
20-1 shot Stormin Baghdad battled on the front end down the backstretch with 100-1 My Private Lake and 7-1 Elite Squadron through fractions of 21.79 and 44.67, while Piratesonthelake sat in stalking position third early. Entering the stretch, Stormin Baghdad continued to lead but Piratesonthelake hooked him inside the 1/8 pole. The pair battled through the final furlong with Base Commander closing fast on the outside after racing in 8th early. The three hit the wire together in a blanket finish, with Piratesonthelake getting his nose ahead of Base Commander at the line in 1:09.09. It was just a neck back to Stormin Baghdad third, and it was a long 4 1/4 lengths back to 16-1 Appealing Spring in fourth.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 8 Piratesonthelake Sanchez 6.00 3.20 3.00 10 Base Commander DeCarlo 4.40 3.00 3 Stormin Baghdad Thompson 8.20 Winning Time: 1:09.09 $2 Exacta 8-10 21.60 $2 Trifecta 8-10-3 343.60 $2 Superfecta 8-10-3-2 2570.80
Piratesonthelake in the winner's circle. His trainer Jimmy Divito said, "He's a horse that can run either way. He's shown he could rate all along. He just has enough speed that he can easily make lead. We're on the fence about the Breeders' Cup. It's a possibility, but it's also a lot of money since he's not nominated."
His jockey Diego Sanchez said, "He ran a great race. He broke well and there was a lot of speed in front of him. Even when horses came to him late, I always thought we would win."
Second place finisher Base Commander in the post parade. Mike McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Just a little too late. I thought he ran well. He was able sit off horses and relax. We figured on paper he would be sitting in the second flight of horses. He was definitely running into bias. The first 6 races, the horses have been winning on or near the pace." Jockey Chris DeCarlo added, "He ran great the whole way. We ran out of real estate and even though he was rolling through the stretch. We just couldn't catch the winner."
Third place finisher Stormin Baghdad in the paddock. His jockey Terry Thompson said, "He was just a little too short, and he was still running some pretty fast fractions, just got beat 3/4 of a length? He was just on cruise control. He had his ears forward. He's just been here a few days. It's a huge advantage to have a race over the track."
The $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile saw ten 2-year-olds go 1 1/16 miles. Todd Pletcher trainer Chitoz was sent off as the 5-2 favorite off a 10-length romp in a maiden at Monmouth last time out. In to challenge was 3-1 second choice Texas Fever, winner of a maiden by 6 lengths at Arlington, and 7-2 third choice T.J.'s Posse, winner of the Jamestown but 4th in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last time out.
Texas Fever stayed close to the pace early, as 34-1 outsider Delaware Manor battled with 36-1 longest shot Citizen John through early fractions of 24.44 and 48.84 before both dropped from contention. This allowed Texas Fever to inherit the lead on the far turn through 3/4 in 1:13.08 opening up a 1 1/2 length lead with a furlong remaining. Entering the lane, jockey Chris DeCarlo took Chitoz out five wide as the favorite put in a strong rally through the stretch. However, he was left with too much ground to make up late as Texas Fever held on to win by a neck in 1:44.95. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to 5-1 Blackberry Road in third.
Texas Fever in the winner's circle. His trainer Mike Stidham said, "He can be a tough, bullheaded horse. He's never been really bad, but he can be tough. He's a true colt. We don't have any set plans. Breeders' Cup hasn't been in our minds, but after a nice win like that, you have to think about it. He has a nice record and he has the pedigree. We have a lot to look forward to with him."
His jockey Julien Leparoux said, "We were close up and relaxed early. I tried to stay inside with him, but a horse inside of us took us wide, so I stayed wide. He was a little green in the stretch, but took off again when I asked him.".
Second place finisher and beaten favorite Chitoz in the post parade. Mike McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher said, "I was very pleased with his effort. Chris put him in a perfect spot. The other horse just came back on him."
His jockey Chris DeCarlo said, "He ran a good race. The winner just came back on him. I was where I wanted to be. The winner was just as far out as I was."
Third place finisher Blackberry Road unsaddles after the race. His jockey Calvin Borel said, "We had a bad trip. I took him inside to be settled. When I was ready to ask him, horses came back and I had to wait. I swung him out and he closed strongly. This was a good experience for him.
Kicking off the stakes action on Saturday was the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies for 2-year-old fillies going 1 mile on Polytrack. A field of 11 went to post with local hope Latest Scoop sent off as the 2-1 favorite coming off an allowance win at Turfway, over 4-1 Sky Mom who was 7th in the Adirondack last out, and 6-1 Kadira, winner of the Coca-Cola Bassinet Stakes at River Downs on September 1.
8-1 Palanka City contested the pace with Sky Mom and Kadira through fractions of 23.24, 46.69, and 1:11.18 while as many as 2 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field. Entering the stretch, Palanka City tired and dropped from contention allowing Sky Mom to inherit the lead. 15-1 Mims Eppi, who had raced near the back of the field down the backstretch, had plenty of run through the lane but encountered traffic trouble, as Sky Mom was able to hold her off late to win by 3/4 length in 1:38.11. It was another 3/4 length back to Kadira in third, while favorite Latest Scoop raced midpack the whole way but showed no rally late, finishing 6th.
Sky Mom and jockey Terry Thompson return after the race. Her owner Heather Stark said, "This is very exciting. I kept think was she going to be able to keep going on the lead. She started to pull away, I was running the last part with her. I don't know about her last race, but we don't bring them unless their ready."
Her jockey Terry Thompson said, "I was comfortable laying off horses early and I knew Steve (Asmussen, trainer) would have her ready at the 1/4 pole onward. I let her go and knew the wire would come up in time."
Second place finisher Mims Eppi returns after the race. Her trainer Ron Pellegrini said, "We were in the same position as everyone, looking for a 2-year-old to move forward. I think she definitely moved forward. We got stopped at the top of the stretch. It could have cost us the race, but that's racing luck. I think this filly will go far. I don't know (about the Breeders' Cup). That's the decision for the owner."
Her jockey Randall Toups said, "She broke like I wanted her to. I let her run her race. A horse came out in front of me so I had to grab hold. She really took off late and I really like her a lot.
Third place finisher Kadira in the post parade. Her jockey Larry Melancon said, "That's her style, early speed. The disadvantage I think we had was that she never ran or worked over the track. I thought I had it, but she got a little tired. If we had a race over it, she would have done better."
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