Saturday Racing Picks: Kentucky Preview
The third day of the quick 5-day meet at Kentucky Downs is packed with stakes races, highlighted by the final race on the 10-race card, the Grade 3 $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes.
The 1 ½ mile turf race for 3yo and up attracted 12 horses and post time is slated for 6:35 p.m. ET.
#10, Arklow, 5-2, Florent Geroux
It is hard to go against the morning-line favorite here in this spot as the defending champion tries to become only the third horse to win this race twice.
Only Rochester (2002, 2003) and Da Big Hoss (2015, 2016) have won the 1 1/2-mile stakes twice.
Arklow, the Brad Cox-trained five-year-old and owned by Donegal Racing, is still looking for his first victory of the year as he unseated jockey Florent Geroux after the start of an allowance race at Keeneland and then lost his next three races (albeit in G1 and G2 races) in New York by a neck, a neck and a half-length.
Geroux, the all-time leader in mount earnings ($5.8 million) at Kentucky Downs and is the only three-time winner of this race, returns and will have Arklow in prime position to take this. The pick.
#9, Zulu Alpha, Jose Ortiz, 9-2
Trainer Mike Maker, who has won this race three times, has three horses in the field, along with Bigger Picture and Noble Thought, and Arklow certainly doesn’t like seeing Zulu Alpha, who beat the defending champ by two lengths in the G2 Sycamore at Keeneland last fall.
Zulu Alpha has won three graded stakes on the turf including the W.L. McKnight and Mac Diarmida, both at Gulfstream. You have to like Ortiz on board as well. A major player, just think it’s the top choice’s time.
#11, Campaign, Joel Rosario, 5-1
The incredibly-talented Joel Rosario is on board Campaign, who won two races at Kentucky Downs last September. Since then, however, Campaign has raced exclusively on dirt for trainer John Sadler while based in California. His odds definitely intrigue me, but prefer others.
#5, Bigger Picture, Tyler Gaffalione, 8-1
Rounding out the Maker trio is Bigger Picture, last year’s runner-up to Arklow in this race.
Leaving from post 5, Tyler Gaffalione gets the call aboard the 8-year-old gelding, who is 2-0-0 in four starts thus far this year, winning the G2 Elkhorn at Keeneland on April 20 and the G3 John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston on Jan. 27. He will be there at the end, but comes up a bit short to try and dethrone the champ.
The picks: 10-9-11-5.
By Lou Monaco
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