There may not be many chances for turf sprinters to run for Grade 1 laurels, but the Runhappy Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs offers something just as nice. A $700,000 purse will be on the line Saturday when a field of 10 squares off in the three-quarter-mile stakes, which has Grade 3 status but boasts the kind of money usually found in a major Grade 1 test. Plus, the Runhappy Turf Sprint is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race and thus offers the victor an expenses-paid starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 2.
1. Wet Your Whistle (8-1): Had a three-race win streak snapped in the Troy Stakes at Saratoga. The fractions were freakishly fast and he didn’t fire late but the six-furlong distance here suits him better and he should be a factor in the final furlong.
JOCKEY: Alex Cintron TRAINER: Mike Trombetta
2. Cautious Giant (15-1): Was claimed out of his last start for $40,000 and seems ambitiously placed here after a long streak of dirt races. He’s winless in four turf tries and this seems an unlikely spot to get that initial win on turf.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Mike Maker
3. Imprimis (4-1): His connections thought enough of him to ship him to Royal Ascot after he won the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland. Faced some tough Group 1 sprinters in the King’s Stand Stakes and was beaten by only 4 ¾ lengths. He was given nearly three months of rest after that and, if he’s ready for a top effort, he should be a major factor.
JOCKEY: Paco Lopez TRAINER: Joe Orseno
4. Smart Remark (20-1): Heads into the race in a tailspin. He was fifth on dirt in his last try and was sixth in two turf sprints before that. Was second at 30-1 odds in the Grade 2 TwinSpires Turf Sprint in early May, but his recent efforts do not inspire much confidence.
JOCKEY: Rafael Bejarano TRAINER: Victoria Oliver
5. Undrafted (10-1): Classy, old veteran was a winner at Royal Ascot four years ago, but at the age of 9, his best days are probably behind him. He was fourth in all three of his 2019 starts and he’s certainly capable of moving forward off those starts, but he’s already winless in five races here at Kentucky Downs and seems a better fit for the bottom half of the superfecta as opposed to the top.
JOCKEY: Corey Lanerie TRAINER: Wesley Ward
6. White Flag (8-1): Returned from a five-month break and closed to finish third in the Highlander Stakes at Woodbine, two lengths behind Wet Your Whistle. He was second in this race last year, falling short by a head, and that experience on this turf course should be beneficial here.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Christophe Clement
7. Jazzy Times (15-1): On occasion, he can turn a solid effort, as he did when he was second in Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint Stakes at Ellis Park last month. Yet in two tries in graded stakes company this year, he finished no better than seventh and seems up against it here.
JOCKEY: James Graham TRAINER: Wesley Hawley
8. Leinstar (3-1): Owner Amy Dunne’s insistence that Leinstar run in turf sprints has been a stroke of genius as he’s won his last three starts, all at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. He set a track record at Saratoga when covering the distance in 1:00.23 while winning the Troy Stakes last time out and seems poised for another top effort here.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione TRAINER: Rusty Arnold
9. Stormy Liberal (9-2): As a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, he would figure to be an odds-on choice here. But since that repeat score at the World Championships, he has two seconds and two thirds in four starts in 2019. Two starts ago, he was third in a $2 million turf sprint in Dubai and then was third as the highweight in the 5-furlong, Grade 3 Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar. While that may not sound compelling, a year ago, he was sixth in his first U.S. start after racing in Dubai and then reeled off four straight wins, capped by his Breeders’ Cup score. He’s certainly capable of returning to his winning ways here while getting four pounds from Leinstar.
JOCKEY: Rafael Santana Jr. TRAINER: Peter Miller
10. Totally Boss (6-1): He won the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint Stakes and has three wins in his last four starts. His late-running style should be effective here but he’s untested in graded stakes company and others are more intriguing.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux TRAINER: Rusty Arnold
THE PICK: Stormy Liberal
LIVE LONGSHOT: Wet Your Whistle