For the first time this Saturday, Kentucky Downs will host a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event. The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3) has drawn an outstanding field of 10 horses looking to qualify for the World Championships.
The two-time defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal headlines this race, but he comes into this event winless for the 2019 season. To his credit, he has competed against some of the best in the world, and this contest will be his second start off of a layoff. Last time out, he was third in the Green Flash Handicap (G3) at Del Mar. His main rival in this race will be Imprimis, who was last seen finishing sixth in the extremely difficult King’s Stand Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot. Before shipping over, Imprimis had won two straight, including the Shakertown Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in April.
The winner of the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint will receive an automatic position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint serves as one of two Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this weekend. The other race will be Saturday’s Jockey Club Derby Invitational at Belmont Park, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf (G1). This is the first year that each of these contests will serve as “Win and You’re In” events. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on September 14 at Churchill Downs with the Pocahontas Stakes (Juvenile Fillies) and the Iroquois Stakes (TVG Juvenile), as well as the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (TVG Mile) at Woodbine. There will also be Sunday action at Woodbine with the Natalma Stakes (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and the Summer Stakes (Juvenile Turf).
The full field from the rail out: Wet Your Whistle, Cautious Giant, Imprimis, Smart Remark, Undrafted, White Flag, Jazzy Times, Leinster, Stormy Liberal, and Totally Boss.
#3 Imprimis – It’s nice to see him back in the United States after running very well at Royal Ascot last time out, where he was a competitive sixth against tough company in the King’s Stand. When he was last seen in the United States, he won the Shakertown despite a less-than-ideal start and trip. His connections have given him plenty of time to recover from Royal Ascot, so he should be rested and ready to go in this spot.
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#8 Leinster – It turns out that turf sprinting is what this horse likes to do best. Three races back, he broke his maiden in an allowance race on the Keeneland grass before turning around and winning an allowance/optional claimer next time out at Churchill Downs. Those victories earned him a shot in the Troy Stakes (G3) at Saratoga, where he ran the race of his life, winning in record time. He comes into this race on quite a roll and his speed figures match up with anyone in the division.
#9 Stormy Liberal – The two-time defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion is starting to rev up his campaign in search of yet another championship. The year has been a downer for him so far, though; he’s winless in four starts this season. After shipping to Dubai two races back, he finally returned to the track in the Green Flash in mid-August, finishing a non-threatening third. That race seemed to be more of a workout for him, though, so he should be tightened up and ready to roll in this spot.
#1 Wet Your Whistle –He will be looking for redemption after seeing his four-race win streak snapped last time out in the Troy. Two races back, he became a Grade 1 winner after shipping to Woodbine for a victory in the Highlander Stakes. If he can get back to that type of form, then he can compete with this group.
#5 Undrafted – The 9-year-old pro is still running strong and will make his 43rd start after running fourth last time out in the Green Flash. He has failed to hit the board this season, finishing fourth in all three starts, but he is still competitive against top-level company. Expect him to make a run down the lane every time. He has hit the board in 24 of 42 starts.
#6 White Flag – Horses usually perform well when making their second starts off of a layoff, which is exactly what White Flag is doing here. He kicked off his year with a fourth-place effort in the Tropical Turf Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park before running third last time out in the Highlander behind Wet Your Whistle. Both of those races were solid, so expect him to show improvement.
#10 Totally Boss – Last time out, he picked up his first stakes victory in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint Stakes at Ellis Park. That was his third victory in four starts this year; he is ready to take on graded stakes company for the first time. This rapidly-improving horse has a chance to make some noise if he can handle the jump up in class.
#4 Smart Remark – He’ll try to turn his fortunes around after going winless in five starts this season. His best race this year came four races back at Churchill Downs, where he ran a huge second in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G2) on Kentucky Derby weekend. That type of performance will give him a chance in this spot.
#2 Cautious Giant – This old pro will try the turf after a couple of poor recent showings on the dirt. He has competed in several big-time events on the dirt throughout his 50-race career, including several Grade 1 events. He will not be intimidated by these horses from a class perspective, but the surface switch will be the biggest question mark.
#7 Jazzy Times – This horse has raced at several tracks during his career, but this will be his first start at Kentucky Downs. Last time out, he was a solid second in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint Stakes at Ellis Park, which was a major improvement over his first four starts of the season. He has lacked consistency for most of his career, but at his best, he can compete with this field.