- Kentucky Downs is the center of the horse racing world Saturday with four graded turf races
- The Turf Sprint is a Breeders Cup Win and You’re In Race
- What horses will excel on a European style undulating course and provide betting value?
Kentucky Downs is unlike any other racetrack in America.
Closer to Nashville than Lexington or Louisville, the Frankfort, KY facility hosts racing for only one week a year, does not have a dirt course, and the turf is bumpy, changes elevations, and looks a bit like a shoe. There is nothing straight, circular, or flat about what most consider a European style grass surface. They also have very rich racing that attracts top grass horses and very deep fields. This year Kentucky Downs even features two race callers.
Saturday, four grade three events are on the schedule including the six furlong Turf Sprint which is a Breeders Cup Win and You’re In event for the BC Turf Sprint. With deep fields and lots of horses using this weekend as their final tuneup for the Breeders Cup, there is betting value to take advantage of. Let’s look closely at the Turf Sprint, and discuss the other big races too.
2020 Turf Sprint Odds
|Horse||Odds at Bet365|
|Bound For Nowhere||+450|
|Front Run The Fed||+600|
Odds taken September 11
With a large field and no big favorite this is a tremendous wagering event if you can choose the winner. Post time is 6:36 pm EST and it will be televised by TVG.
When the gates open it is unclear who the chalk will be. The fixed price odds give Totally Boss a slight edge over Imprimis and Bound for Nowhere. Totally Boss and Bound for Nowhere, along with Tiger Blood, all most recently ran in Keeneland’s Shakertown Staes on July 11.
Not much separated Totally Boss and Bound for Nowhere. That race was at five-and-a-half furlongs while this one is six furlongs. Totally Boss is one-for-two going three-quarters of a mile, while Bound For Nowhere has run three times at six furlongs and never won. They have opposite styles. Totally Boss does his best running late while Bound for Nowhere likes to dictate terms from the start.
Imprimis finished first following a 10-month break in his 2020 debut last month at Saratoga. However, he was disqualified. Two years ago he beat Bound for Nowhere in the Shakertown.
In the Turf Sprint last year Totally Boss got the better of Imprimis. Note the unique course Kentucky Downs has that the horses will traverse today.
Totally Boss and Bound for Nowhere are the only two horses in the race who have won at Kentucky Downs. The top three choices are a bit hard to separate, and while they are all completely viable, let’s look at some bigger prices.
Three others horses are +600, Stubbins, Front Run The Fed, and Kanthaka. Stubbins and Kanthaka matched up last time out in Belmont Park’s Jaipur Stakes.
While Kanthaka just missed at 16/1, it was his first race in over a year. He hasn’t won in more than two years. Interestingly his last two races are his only career efforts running on grass.
Stubbins is a four-year-old, an age where horses tend to see great improvement. He may have just one career effort that is good enough to beat these horses, but his victory in last year’s Woodford Stakes came over Imprimis among others.
As for Front Run the Fed, he has not faced horses of this quality but is trained by Chad Brown, the top turf conditioner in the country. He has won four of his last six races but six furlongs may be a pinch shorter than he prefers.
American Anthem has made more than $800,000 during a 19 race career. He will be making his turf debut on Saturday. He was sold for $145,000 in November and placed in the barn of trainer Danny Gargan. Following three winless dirt races, turf specialist Mike Maker will be conditioning American Anthem for the first time on Saturday. Though not winning recently on dirt, American Anthem has been facing top-quality competition.
Archidust has won three straight including back-to-back stakes races at Monmouth Park.
The four year old is two-for-two since Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has taken over for Jorge Navarro. He lost to Stubbins when stepping up in class last year at Kentucky Downs.
This is a wide-open race and whoever you pick will pay pretty well if they win. Veteran trainer Graham Motion got Kanthaka over a year ago, gelded him, waited until to June, saw him run a big second, and now has allowed for ample recovery time. His two turf races are solid and he should sit a good trip just off the pace.
Pick: Kanthaka (+600)
Additional Graded Stakes Races at Kentucky Downs on September 12
Ladies Sprint Stakes
A full field of 12 go six-and-a-half furlongs, which at Kentucky Downs means the race begins headed uphill. The favorite is five year old Got Stormy, who hasn’t won since December, but has been facing top competition. She was second a few weeks go at Saratoga, though that race was at a mile.
Got Stormy has never run a race this short in 23 career efforts that have led to more than $1.6 million in earnings.
Kimari returns to the United States after trainer Wesley Ward tried the grade one Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot against boys in June. Kimari ran a strong second in that event. Her lone try in the US this year was a victory on dirt at Oaklawn Park. She was fourth in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint against boys last year.
With several speed horses entered, Change of Control, Winning Envelope, and Cariba all may have the right style, flying late at a price.
Pick: Kimari (+400)
Juvenile Turf Sprint
Only two of 10 two-year-old boys going six-and-a-half furlongs have won multiple times, and nobody has more than one victory on the sod. Ward sends out Fauci, who was second in a stakes race at Saratoga on August 21.
The horse Fauci lost to, Golden Pal, is also trained by Ward and ran a strong race at Ascot before the victory at Saratoga.
Ward also sends out Outadore, who won his debut at The Spa rather easily on July 26.
Asmussen has two runners, Country Final, who won first time out on turf at Churchill Downs, finished second in a stakes race in Louisville on dirt in June and won easily in a race taken off of turf at Monmouth Park last month.
Cowan will put blinkers on for the first time for Asmussen after winning his debut on dirt at Churchill Downs, and then finishing fifth in a stakes race on dirt last month at Ellis Park.
Bodenheimer is two-for-two but wins at Canterbury Park and Prairie Meadows are not the same quality as some of his competition. That said, his win on turf in Minnesota came by over 11 lengths.
Pick: Fauci (+250)
Veteran Zulu Alpha will be the favorite in this mile-and-a-half marathon. The seven-year-old has earned north of $2 million and won 12 times in 34 tries. Four of those dozen victories are at this distance including Keeneland’s Elkhorn Stakes in July.
Zulu Alpha has won three of his last four. He won this race by more than three lengths last year.
Arklow beat Zulu Alpha in October, but has lost to that rival on three occasions, and hasn’t won since the victory at Belmont Park 11 months ago.
Standard Deviation ran some strong races last year. However, in two tries since returning to the US after a pricey second-place finish in Doha in February hasn’t run well.
Grand Journey is stepping up in class but claiming horses and seeing them improve is what Maker does best. He has never faced anything close to this level of competition.
Pick: Zulu Alpha (+140)
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