With the close of the Saratoga and Del Mar meets, we welcome in my favorite mini-meet of the year. Kentucky Downs presents us with 5 days of racing on an all-turf, European style course in a country fair atmosphere. The meet highlights its great stakes schedule with the $600,000 G3 Calumet Farms Kentucky Turf Cup. The mile and a half turf race will feature 12 expected runners, with four of them from the barn of trainer Mike Maker. Maker has won the race the past two years with Da Big Hoss, who is taking a few months off to nurse an ankle injury.
The Kentucky Downs track is a turf-only venue and the course is not your typical 2-turns and 2 straightaways. The course is kidney shaped and features some undulations along the way. Looking at my notes from last year’s meet, I also see that we have a difference in track bias between sprints and routes, where about 40% of sprints were won up front but only 13% of routes. With the Ky Turf Cup at the marathon distance of 1-1/2 miles I will be leaning towards the late runners in this full field.
This field of 12 presents us with plenty of speed, none of which will be able to steal this marathon on the front. Postulation, Muqtaser, Zulu Alpha, and One Go All Go all prefer the up close running style, with several others looking to stalk. Rail running Postulation will attempt to duplicate his ground saving run in the American St. Leger, where he won rather easily after being on a dawdling pace.
Morning line 3-1 favorite, Enterprising, will also look to duplicate his last race, the G1 Arlington Million, where he closed gamely on the inside to just miss by 3/4s of a length at odds of 80-1. Mike Maker’s Oscar Nominated, the 7-2 morning line 2nd choice, will be looking to redeem himself after an 8th place finish in The Million.
The horse I landed on this week is the #8, Bullards Alley. Trained by Tim Glyshaw and ridden by Marcelino Pedroza, Bullards Alley ran in the American St. Leger where he grinded out a wide trip, was checked in the lane, and had no chance to close into a 1:13 and 4 6f clip. I am willing to put a line through that effort and look back to his turn of foot in the prior race, a G3 1-1/2 mile event at Woodbine. In that race he was up close to a quick early pace, got a clear run at the half and darted to the lead, barely unable to hold on for the win.
Kentucky Downs, with its undulating back side and sweeping turn for home, favors horses that can quicken on and maintain their burst. It’s neither a one-run type of track nor a track for grinders. Bullards Alley’s performance at Woodbine fits perfectly with the running style I prefer at this venue. With the likes of Postulation, Muqtaser, Zulu Alpha, and One Go All Go ready to set a quick pace, I like Bullards Alley to run them down in the stretch.
The bottom line is, Bullards Alley for the win.