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FRANKLIN, KY – Bonne Chance Farm and Stud Rio Dois Irmaos homebred Imperador ruled over all who faced him with an impressive rallying victory in Saturday’s $1 million Calumet Turf Cup (G2) at Kentucky Downs.
The Turf Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Imperador receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar this November.
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Imperador broke from the rail under Joe Talamo at 8/1 odds and settled into a mid-pack ground-saving position as Epic Bromance, Big Dreaming, and Channel Cat dueled through fractions of 1:13.15 and 1:36.96 through the opening mile.
Channel Cat assumed command with a 1/2-mile to go but soon gassed out as Imperador – tipped out off the final turn – launched a huge rally down the middle of the course and took the lead with 1/16 of a mile to go.
Defending winner and 2/1 favorite Arklow fought through traffic but got going too late and could only muster second, a neck behind the winning Imperador.
The Paulo Lobo trainee completed the 1 1/2-mile firm turf route in 2:25.70, a new course record that obliterated General Jumbo’s mark of 2:26.98 set when winning the 2007 edition of this race.
“It felt great,” Talamo said. “Hat’s off to the horse and to the trainer, Paulo Lobo, for the training job he did. I tried to be a good passenger the whole way around there. He settled in good, and turning for home, he had a good turn of foot.”
Glynn County outhoofed Ajourneytofreedom for third by 2 1/4 lengths, with the Mike Maker stablemates representing the best finishes of the barn’s five starters.
Epic Bromance, Channel Cat, Breakpoint, Big Dreaming, Dynadrive, Artemus Eagle, Tide of the Sea, and Crossfirehurricane completed the order of finish.
Bluegrass Parkway, Fantasioso, Zulu Alpha (whose retirement was announced late in the week), and Time for Trouble (Also Eligible) scratched.
Imperador’s win was his first in six U.S. starts since the Argentinian-bred arrived last summer and followed his previous stateside best when second in the United Nations Stakes (G1). A multiple Group 1 winner on his home turf, the 5-year-old intact son of Treasure Beach’s overall record improved to 14-4-4-0 with $538,268 earned earned.
“I was expecting a huge effort,” Lobo said. “He ran good at Churchill, the first time running a mile and a 1/2 here in America. He ran very good in (the United Nations) and he was doing very good for this race.”
Imperador returned $19.20 to win, $8 to place, and $5 to show. Arklow brought back $4 to place and $2.80 to show. Glynn County paid $3.80 to show.
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