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A full field of 12, plus 4 Also Eligibles, is entered to take a shot at the Grade 3, $750,000 Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Saturday. The day will serve as Kentucky Downs’ third of their short five-day meet. Slotted as the last on a 10-race card, the Kentucky Turf Cup will share the spotlight with four other major stakes races on the day. Post time for the race will be approximately 5:59 PM CT.
Defending champion Oscar Nominated is back to take a shot at this race while also trying to push his overall record at Kentucky Downs to a perfect 3-for-3. His only 2017 victory came in this race after he outlasted Postulation to the wire to win by a head. He opened this season with a win in the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight Handicap at Gulfstream Park, and two races back, he was second in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland. He will break from post 6 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
The James Toner-trained Manitoulin could be dangerous here, but he must rebound from a poor effort last time out in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga. He ended his 2017 campaign with an impressive win in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar by a neck, but he has failed to hit the board in three races this season. However, two races back, he was a close second in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes, which has produced several next-out winners. James Graham will take over in the saddle as Manitoulin breaks from post 3.
The full field from the rail out: Bronson, Nessy, Manitoulin, Bigger Picture, Multiplier, Oscar Nominated, All Right, Arklow, Soglio, Some in Tieme, My Bariley, Big Bend. The Also Eligibles: Patterson’s Cross, Markitoff, Twenty Four Seven, and Bandua.
#6 Oscar Nominated – Previous success at Kentucky Downs is a major handicapping point at this track. It is configured differently compared to anything else in the country, and some horses take to it better than others. Because of that, Oscar Nominated looks like a strong play after winning his previous two starts over this surface. He seems to be doing well coming into the race, and there looks to be no reason why he can’t extend his overall record to 3-for-3 at Kentucky Downs in this spot.
#3 Manitoulin – He has to bounce back from that poor effort last time out, but perhaps he just didn’t care for the soft turf course at Saratoga. Two races back, he was a solid fourth in the Manhattan, which he could have won with a better trip. That last effort might make his price attractive, and there is no doubt that his best effort gives him a big shot.
#4 Bigger Picture – This is one of two millionaires in the race always must be respected. He is a Grade 1 winner, and he kicked off 2018 with a win in a Grade 3 event at Sam Houston. Recently, he has been knocking heads with some of the best turf horse in the country, and has been competing very well. Three races back, he was third in the Grade 1 United Nations, and two races back, he was a close fourth in the Bowling Green. Those types of efforts will make him very competitive in this spot.
#8 Arklow – These connections always must be respected when they team up, and this horse is coming off of a win last time out at Ellis Park. This will be a big jump up in class for him compared to that start, but he is no stranger to big races. Last year, he pulled off a big upset in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs, which shows that he’s good enough to win a big one on his best day. He’ll play a factor here.
#9 Soglio – Two races back, he nearly won the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes at Arlington, falling just short by 1/2 of a length to Catcho En Die. That horse came back to run third in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, which shows that the Stars and Stripes was a strong race. He then ran in an allowance next out, but disappointed to finish third. That poor effort was discouraging, but he still has a shot to run well here.
#5 Multiplier – Speed figure-wise, this horse is always very consistent and has been facing very tough horses in his last three starts. Two races back, he was ninth in the Manhattan, which makes him a fringe contender to win here, but more than likely, an on-the-board finish is probably his ceiling.
#10 Some in Tieme – This horse is capable of a huge race, but we don’t see it from him very often. The best race of his career came in the 2017 Grade 3 Louisville Handicap , where he put up a 101 Beyer speed figure and won by an eye-popping 3 lengths. That race was at a mile and 1/2, too, which is the same distance that he will be running here. However, his form is like a roller coaster filled with highs and lows, and recently, it has been mostly lows. If he shows up with his best, then he’ll have a shot, but you need decent odds to play him.
#12 Big Bend – We have not seen the best of this horse lately, but hhedoes have a win over this track in his only start here. That win came in last year’s $350,000 Dueling Ground Derby when he took the field wire-to-wire to win by 3/4 of a length. He is also 2-for-5 when running this distance, so those are very positive signs. He must get back to his best form to have a shot here, as he is 0-for-4 this season, but if the price is large enough, then he is worth a shot.
#1 Bronson – Since moving to the barn of Mike Maker, this horse has not been able to do much damage while running in some tough spots. He has hit the board in just 2 of 8 starts for his new trainer, and this looks like one of the toughest spots yet.
#2 Nessy – After winning a Grade 3 race earlier in the year, he has struggled lately. He has to get back to that kind of form here, and he also will have to overcome an 0-for-2 record at Kentucky Downs. He might take some money in this spot, but several of these horses have defeated him in the past.
#7 All Right – The good news is that this horse does have a win at Kentucky Downs, but this is going to be a major jump up in class for him, as he was running against claiming company just three races back.
#11 My Bariley – This will be a major jump up in class for him, too, after running in much smaller races throughout his career. Three races back, he won the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile at Canterbury, but he has since finished fifth in a pair of stakes races. He’ll be a major longshot here.
Also Eligibles: #13 Patterson Cross, #14 Markitoff, #15 Twenty Four Seven, #16 Bandua
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