Preview: Turf Heaven, The Kentucky Downs Meet Returns …
The European-style turf course that resides just a touch north of the Kentucky-Tennessee border is back once again with a super slate of unique races. Starting this coming Sunday over the Labor Day Weekend, you can expect full fields, some of the best trainers and jockeys in the nation, and purses that are rather impressive.
The Mint Gaming Hall is ready for visitors, and the 2021 "King of the Turf Handicapping Tournament," sponsored by DRF, is bound to bring some action in the form of 3 separate events. Spots in the NHC and BCBC are on the line! Remember, this Meet only lasts 6 days, so don’t blink because it will be over in an instant … much to the chagrin of us turf lovers.
As mentioned, the unique pear-shaped configuration will challenge even the most-seasoned of runners. From sprints to longer routers, it is a horseplayer’s dream come true. Here is a preview of a pair of the Opening Weekend “Features,” that is sure to bring the bettors out in droves!
Sunday, September 5th
Monday, September 6th
Wednesday, September 8th
Thursday, September 9th
Saturday, September 11th
Sunday, September 12th
The First Weekend “Features” …
Sunday … Race 10: Turf, 1 5/16ths, Big Ass Fans Dueling Grounds Derby, $750k, 3
Horses to Watch … Du Jour #12 (5/2), Cellist #8 (4/1), Palazzi #5 (8/1), Long shot: Grey Streak #10 (12/1)
The Take … Going a unique distance on the grass, this race, the $750k Dueling Grounds Derby, brings together a full field of 12. The former Bob Baffert-trained Du Jour #12 looks to be the presumptive favorite come Sunday. Still owned by Baffert’s wife, the colt out of Temple City was transferred to HOF trainer Bill Mott’s stable after a signature win in the American Turf (G2) on the KYD147 undercard. He is going to be a tough customer, as Joel Rosario tries to notch a win after a 3rd place finish at Saratoga in a leg what is known as the “Turf Triple.” Rivals Cellist #8, trained by Rusty Arnold, and Palazzi #5, conditioned by now HOF-er Mark Casse, will try to stand in his way. They were significantly overmatched at that famed NYRA track back in early August, and both are looking to improve on what amounted to lackluster performances. Palazzi #5, bred by Hank Nothhaft of Austin, Texas, and owned by John Oxley, has the stamina and strength to get this done. If you are looking for a nice long shot, then Arnold’s other half of the uncoupled entry, Grey Streak #10 could make some noise after winning nicely last out at Ellis Park in an ALLW Co. contest. Whatever happens, it will be a very tough race to handicap considering just how many angles are before us.
Monday … Race 10: Turf, 1 Mile, Mint Million (G3), $1 Million, 3+
Horses to Watch … Flavius #11 (9/5), Somelikeitbrown #9 (5/2), Bizzee Channel #7 (8/1), Long shot: Pixelate #6 (10/1)
The Take … The power of Juddmonte Farms, with their distinctive pink sash and matching cap, come to Kentucky Downs in the form of Chad Brown’s Flavius #11. The ridgling out of War Front is not only well-bred, but he was stupendous out on the engine in the Lure S. 120k at Saratoga last time. That frontrunning score is something to build on, and if he makes the lead here, the rest of the field should be more than concerned. The cutback in distance might be his only weakness as Javier Castellano rides. Others that draw in here include the highly-regarded Somelikeitbrown #9. When trainer Mike Maker arrives on the scene, most bettors sit up and take notice. His appearance at Saratoga this past month and a half was superb. He has the ability to dominate at Kentucky Downs. This runner, out of Big Brown, should be a major contender with Jose Ortiz making the trip down to ride once again. He just missed in the Wise Dan (G2) up the road at Churchill back in June. As for some longer prices on the board, be sure to take a close look at Larry Rivelli’s Bizzee Channel #6 and Mike Stidham’s Pixelate #6. Both are fan favorites, and they will be ridden by Florent Geroux and Joel Rosario, respectively. Both of their styles include rating nicely, and coming from just off-the-pace. They could be destructive to those 2 underlays previously mentioned. Who will be the best million-dollar miler? Stay tuned to find out …
Another Kentucky Downs Meet is here … Join us Sunday as we kick things off with all of J.N. Campbell’s selections and expert analysis!
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