FRANKLIN, KY – Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and Peter Coneway’s Arklow put himself back on top in Saturday’s $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs.
Breaking from post 5 under Florent Geroux at 5/1 odds, Arklow (the 2018 race champion) settled into a two-wide stalking position in mid-pack as the field passed under the wire for the first time.
Up front, Changi set the initial pace, posting opening fractions of :24.60 and :50.27 before giving way to Eons, who then led through 6 furlongs in 1:14.67 and a mile in 1:39.47.
Geroux tipped Arklow out three-wide as the field traversed the sweeping far turn, then encouraged him to challenge for the lead at the top of the stretch.
Defending title-holder Zulu Alpha fought in vain, but the 4/5 favorite could not make up the necessary ground in the stretch as Arklow held on to win.
Wearing blinkers for the first time in his 29-race career, the Brad Cox trainee completed the 1 1/2-mile event over the soft going in a final time of 2:28.66.
“It was a great trip for him,” Geroux said. “He was closer to the lead than he’s used to. First time with blinkers, at 6 years old, helped him and the ground also helped. From there, I just nursed him around and he waited for my signal down the stretch. He was able to hold off those horses pretty easily.”
Red Knight advanced to second just as Arklow took command, then held off Zulu Alpha by a length to save the runner-up effort. Eons faded steadily once headed and crossed fourth, 1 length ahead of Postulation.
Hierarchy, He’s No Lemon, Bundibunan, Grand Journey, and Changi completed the order of finish.
American Tattoo and Standard Deviation were scratched (the latter announced shortly after the race prior had finished). Celerity, Perfect Tapatino, Surprise Twist, and Tintoretto failed to draw in from the Also Eligibles list.
Arklow’s win was his first since last October’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1) and improved his overall record to 29-7-7-2. The 6-year-old son of Arch, second to Zulu Alpha in last year’s edition, has now earned $2,466,116.
“He was pretty sharp coming into this race,” Cox said. “He likes it down here, and when it started raining, it gave us even more confidence. He definitely likes a little juice in the ground and he responded well. He’s tough in the gate … but Florent did a good job getting him and getting him involved. That has a lot to do with this horse, how he runs: his involvement early on in a race.”
Arklow returned $13.60 to win, $6.20 to place, and $3 to show. Red Knight brought back $5.80 to place and $3.20 to show, while Zulu Alpha paid $2.10 to show.