Let’s Take a Fast Boat to Glynn County

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman

The Del Mar and Saratoga meets might be over, but the lucrative Kentucky Downs meet is in full swing with a pair of million-dollar stakes set to take place on Saturday.

The racing action over the challenging European-style turf course at Kentucky Downs is always competitive, so let's look for double-digit longshots in the feature events:

FanDuel Turf Sprint S. (G3)

There are plenty of talented sprinters to choose from in this "Win and You're In" steppingstone toward the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Jaipur S. (G1) winner #7 Casa Creed (7-2) and Fourstardave Handicap (G1) heroine #9 Got Stormy (9-2) are just two of the key contenders in this deep and talented field.

Rather than accept a short price, I'm going to think outside the box with a longshot. #2 Fast Boat (10-1) won a starter allowance event over this course back in 2019, and he's only gotten better since then. True, he finished behind Casa Creed and Got Stormy in the Jaipur two starts back. But that was clearly a subpar effort from the six-year-old son of City Zip, who sandwiched that defeat between victories in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint S. (G2) and Troy S. (G3).

In the Troy, Fast Boat came exploding from off the pace to win by half a length in the snappy time of 1:01.24. In the process, he defeated a strong field including #6 Front Run the Fed (20-1), runner-up in the 2020 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs.

In terms of Brisnet Speed ratings, Fast Boat is a great fit for the FanDuel Turf Sprint field. Throw in the presence of ultra-hot jockey Joel Rosario—who went 11-for-27 (41%) during the first three days of the Kentucky Downs meet—and I believe Fast Boat might be the most logical winner in the field.

Calumet Turf Cup (G2)

Trainer Mike Maker has found the formula for success in the Calumet Turf Cup. Maker has won this 1 1/2-mile "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Turf in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019, in addition to finishing second in 2018 and third in 2020.

In search of a fifth victory in the Calumet Turf Cup, Maker has entered half a dozen runners, including one also-eligible. Barring any scratches, Maker will saddle five of the 12 horses in the main body of the field, so there's a strong chance we'll see a Maker trainee back in the Calumet Turf Cup winner's circle this Saturday.

#11 Zulu Alpha (6-1), who won this race in 2019, is the most accomplished of the Maker entrants. But the eight-year-old gelding hasn't hit the board in two starts since returning from an injury-induced layoff, suggesting others may offer better value.

I prefer the chances of #9 Glynn County (15-1), a four-year-old son of Kitten's Joy. The progeny of Kitten's Joy tend to perform strongly at Kentucky Downs, and Glynn County easily broke his maiden racing one mile over this turf course in 2020.

Glynn County has been in good form since stretching out in distance this year. After rallying from mid-pack to win a 1 1/2-mile allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs, Glynn County encountered very slow pace fractions in both the United Nations S. (G1) and the Mr. D. S. (G1), compromising his ability to challenge for victory. Nevertheless, Glynn County rallied for fifth in the United Nations and improved to third in the Mr. D., earning strong Brisnet Late Pace ratings of 109 and 107.

If Glynn County encounters a fairer pace setup while returning to Kentucky Downs, he can challenge for victory under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who wins at a 23% rate when teaming up with Maker.

For the exotics, we have to respect #5 Arklow (3-1), a Brad Cox trainee who absolutely loves Kentucky Downs. Arklow won this race in 2018 and 2020, sandwiching those victories around a runner-up effort in 2019. The seven-year-old veteran has disappointed in his last two starts (including a sixth-place effort in the United Nations), but he did win the 1 1/2-mile Louisville S. (G3) during the spring and may recapture his best form while returning to Kentucky Downs.

One longshot worth considering for the minor awards is #2 Crossfirehurricane (20-1), a son of Kitten's Joy shipping in from California. A Group 3 winner racing 1 1/4 miles in Ireland, Crossfirehurricane wasn't badly beaten in the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar Handicap (G2) last month, gaining ground after a slow start to finish just two lengths away from victory in a crowded finish. The fact he's run well in Europe hints he'll appreciate the European-style turf course at Kentucky Downs.

Now it's your turn! Who do you like in the graded stakes at Kentucky Downs this week?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite.

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