Tom Pedulla presents five takeaways from the exceptional turf racing at Kentucky Downs on Saturday and other major developments this weekend:
LOOKING GOOD: Trainer Joe Orseno is excited about his prospects after Imprimis gained a fees-paid berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint by winning the Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes by a neck at Kentucky Downs. Imprimis was making only his second start this season. He crossed the wire first in the Aug. 8 Troy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course but was disqualified and placed third for interference. The 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding ran a disappointing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last year, but Orseno thinks he is better positioned this time around for a repeat bid at Keeneland Race Course on Nov. 7. “We tried to rush him along for the Breeders’ Cup,” the trainer said. “We probably made a couple of bad moves.”
BACK IN FORM: Grade 1 winner Arklow snapped a five-race losing streak when he bested Red Knight by 1 ¼ lengths in the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs, with defending winner Zulu Alpha getting up for third. Arklow had not won since capturing the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes last Oct. 5 at Belmont Park. The 6-year-old son of Arch had everything go his way in the Kentucky Turf Cup, including rainy weather. “He likes it down here and, obviously, when it started raining, it gave us even more confidence,” said trainer Brad Cox. “He definitely likes a little juice in the ground, and he responded well.”
RECORD WAGERING: Kentucky Downs’ fortunes continue to rise. The Franklin, Ky., track, operating without fans, easily surpassed its single-day record for wagering with $17,437,731 bet on Saturday’s 11-race card despite poor weather. The previous mark was $11,321,492 wagered on 10 races on last year’s corresponding Saturday. “It’s great that even with an inclement weather day that we were able to have everyone around the country enjoy our races,” said senior vice president and general manager Ted Nicholson. Wagering on the first four days of the meet totaled $41,389,764, an increase of $7,430,607 over the four equivalent days in 2019.
ONE, TWO PUNCH: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Authentic and Thousand Words, who flipped in the Churchill Downs paddock and was scratched from the Derby as a precaution, are on course for the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. Baffert said of Authentic: “He came out very well, very well. He’s ready to go. We would have been ready to go in two weeks.” Although Thousand Words emerged from his scary incident unscathed, the same cannot be said for Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s long-time assistant. Baffert said nine screws and a plate were needed to repair Barnes’ damaged right wrist.
WAIT AND SEE: Trainer Barclay Tagg and Jack Knowlton, operating manager of Sackatoga Stable, are taking a wait-and-see approach before deciding whether beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law should go on to the Preakness. “He’ll be doing his regular gallops and, as long as everything continues to go well, then we’ll have a work next weekend to assess where we are,” Knowlton said. “We want to make sure he comes out of the race well and acts like he did after the Travers. That’s what we’d like to see moving forward.” The Derby marked only the second defeat of the Constitution colt’s eight-race career.