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
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
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.