If you’re looking for big value and even bigger fields then few options are better than Kentucky Downs. The short but lucrative turf-only meet draws full and contentious fields from its stakes right down to claimers. On Saturday, distance turf stars will get their chance to chase a $1 million purse in the Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at 1 ½ miles. As an added bonus, the winner of the Grade 2 race will get a guaranteed, free spot in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf Nov. 5 down the road at Keeneland.
1. Red Knight (15-1 morning-line odds): He had a nice comeback race in his first start for trainer Mike Maker, winning a stakes at Colonial Downs. He was second in this stakes in 2020 and that’s important because Kentucky Downs is not your typical turf course with hills and bends. He’s certainly a contender in this field with a very underrated rider.
JOCKEY: Gerardo Corrales TRAINER: Mike Maker
2. Breakpoint (15-1): He was seventh in this stakes last year and has been away since a winning effort in June. That victory was over a firm turf course at Santa Anita Park and it’s unlikely he’ll get that type of ground here.
JOCKEY: Tyler Baze TRAINER: Neil Drysdale
3. Temple (6-1): He’s 0-for-3 at Kentucky Downs but he’s in career best form now. He should have no problem with the distance, though he seems to want firm turf. If the weather stays dry, he should be a major player.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Mike Maker
4. Arklow (7-2): The 8-year-old is definitely a horse for the course. He’s run in this stakes the last four years with two wins and a second. He started off 2022 in good form, finishing a game second despite traffic issues in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes. Given that experience, hard to look beyond him while searching for a winner.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux TRAINER: Brad Cox
5. Keystone Field (30-1): He’s making a big jump after racing on dirt in an allowance race last time and finishing fourth in a starter allowance race in his previous turf start. Might be a rabbit for the other three Maker starters.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr. TRAINER: Mike Maker
6. Glynn County (30-1): Another Maker starter and he was third in this stakes last year. Had a useful prep for this at Saratoga at just 1 1/8 miles and should appreciate the added distance. He hasn’t won in more than a year, but he could sneak into the superfecta at a nice price.
JOCKEY: Vincent Cheminaud TRAINER: Mike Maker
7. Admission Office (10-1): Could be a threat on his best try, but it’s hard to predict when that day will be. Put in a winning effort in his 2022 debut but then disappointed in his two most recent tries. Others are more attractive.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez TRAINER: Brian Lynch
8. Gufo (7-5): He returned to top form last time in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Stakes and is a very deserving morning-line favorite. He seems to do his best running on a course with some give in it, which bodes well for his chances. Only major concern is how he’ll handle the course in a race filled with experienced and successful Kentucky Downs runners.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Christophe Clement
9. Who’s the Star (20-1): Stone-cold closer gets tested for class here after winning an ungraded 1 ¼-mile stakes at Woodbine last time. Should be able to handle the distance but he will need to take a big step forward to be a major threat.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux TRAINER: Mark Casse
10. Another Mystery (15-1): He was second to Red Knight last time so he deserves some attention. Getting Irad Ortiz Jr. certainly improves his chances and makes him quite interesting at the ML odds.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr. TRAINER: Chris Block
11. Rogue Element (30-1): Makes his stakes debut in this field and that’s a very tough assignment. Pass.
JOCKEY: Adam Beschizza TRAINER: Jeff Hiles
12. Highest Honors (12-1): Wasn’t helped at the post position draw. He was a stakes winner on dirt early in his career and has lately switched to turf. Comes from connections that know how to win a race like this, but he seems a step slower than the top threats.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione TRAINER: Chad Brown
13. Militarist (20-1, AE): He’s on the also-eligible list and will need a scratch/scratches in order to run, and will face a steep uphill climb if he draws in.
JOCKEY: Jose Lezcano TRAINER: Carlo Vaccarezza
THE PICK: Arklow
LIVE LONGSHOT: Glynn County