Imprimis

Imprimis, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, pulls to the front during Saturday’s $700,000 Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs in Franklin.

One year after getting beat as the favorite in the Grade 3, $700,000 Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes, Imprimis rewarded those who retained the faith in him Saturday as the gelding got up by a neck over Front Run the Fed to capture the 2020 edition of the race at Kentucky Downs in Franklin.

The six-furlong Turf Sprint offered the winner a fees-paid spot in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (Grade 1) on Nov. 7 at Keeneland as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series’ “Win and You’re In” program.

The trip to Kentucky Downs for Imprimis represented just the second start of the year for the 6-year-old and his first win since taking the 2019 Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes. Though the record shows the dark bay gelding coming in off a loss in the Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 8, he actually crossed the wire first by 2¼ lengths that day but was disqualified for interference and placed third.

“None of us were happy about it. I’d say 90 percent of the people, because they’re my friends or trying to make me feel better, they all thought we got a bad deal,” trainer Joe Orseno said. “But it is what it is. You can’t take the win away from the horse. He ran his heart out off a 10-month layoff. Went up there and won that. We’re going to get to our goal, that’s the Breeders’ Cup. He loves Keeneland. So we’re pretty excited.”

When Imprimis hit the wire in 1:09.93 over a course rated soft, it capped a huge day for owner Mike Hall of Breeze Easy LLC, who also won the $500,000 Bal a Bali Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes with Outadore.

Bred in Florida by Craig Wheeler, Imprimis now boasts eight wins from 15 career starts with $759,948 in earnings.

Arklow turns tables on Zulu Alpha in Turf Cup

They have been two of the more durable members of the turf male ranks for the last five seasons and on Saturday, the latest chapter in the rivalry between Grade 1 winner Arklow and Zulu Alpha geared up for yet another run – this time at the venue where each had previously enjoyed success.

Where Zulu Alpha had gotten the best of his rival in last year’s edition of the Grade 3, $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes, trading blows had been the name of the game for the two warriors in their nine meetings prior to Saturday. So after losing Kentucky Downs bragging rights with a second in 2019, Arklow turned the tables on his old foe when he captured the 1½-miles Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes by 1¼ lengths over Red Knight, with Zulu Alpha a late-running third.

Trained by Brad Cox for Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and Peter Coneway, Arklow previously won the Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes in 2018 and has been a stalwart in his division – placing in the top three eight times since that triumph, including a runner-up effort in this race last year. Things haven’t been as smooth for the 6-year-old son of Arch since winning the 2019 Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes, however, as he had lost his last five starts coming into Saturday’s test.

Zulu Alpha, by contrast, had won three of four starts in 2020 including a victory in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational on Jan. 25. That momentum would be blunted over the soft ground on Saturday though as Arklow – wearing blinkers for the first time in a race – got a perfect trip sitting in the first flight just off the leaders before making his winning bid down the lane under jockey Florent Geroux.

Ground no problem for Got Stormy in Real Solution Ladies Sprint

One thing trainer Mark Casse has had on a wish list for his charge Got Stormy in 2020 was for the 5-year-old mare to finally get the foot-rattling ground she has done her best running over.

So when rain began soaking the Franklin track over the course of Saturday afternoon, turning its course conditions to soft in the process, one could forgive the Hall of Fame trainer if he started to get a twist of dread in his stomach heading into the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint Stakes.

Got Stormy exploded down the lane to take the $500,000 Ladies Sprint Stakes by 3¼ lengths, ending a five-race losing skid and earning her first victory of 2020.

“For her to get a mile, she needs it extremely, extremely hard. And she hasn’t gotten that once this year,” Casse said. “We always felt that way (that she’d sprint) but there’s never been an opportunity. For $500,000, we figured this would be a good time to do it. I’ve always said she’d handle soft going; it just limits how far she can run.

“The bit of the give in the ground (today) was a little worrisome, but it kind of played to her favor.”

With her regular jockey Tyler Gaffalione in the irons on Saturday, Got Stormy indeed looked at home as the 9-5 favorite rated between horses in fourth through the opening quarter mile in :22.54 in the Ladies Sprint. After pacesetter Surrender Now took the field 12-horse field through a half mile in :46.27 and into the stretch, Got Stormy was angled to the outside around rivals by Gaffalione, striking the front near the eighth pole and continuing to draw clear en route to covering the distance in 1:15.41.

Regal Glory shows her mettle in English Channel Ladies Turf

For the first time in his future Hall of Fame career, trainer Chad Brown has made it a point to have a significant presence at the boutique Kentucky Downs meet. As is often the case when the Mechanicville, N.Y., native shows up on the scene, he sent out one of his turf distaffers to claim some lucrative spoils as Regal Glory reeled in pacesetter Mitchell Road in the deep stretch to take the Grade 3, $500,000 English Channel Ladies Turf Stakes by a neck on Saturday.

In giving her trainer his first graded-stakes triumph at the all-turf meet, Regal Glory also snapped a three-race losing and notched her third career graded victory.

Ward goes to 3-for-3 in Bal a Bali Juvenile Turf Sprint

Not only did trainer Wesley Ward continue his domination of the $500,000 Bal a Bali Juvenile Turf Sprint on Saturday, he saddled the exacta finish, Outadore and Fauci.

Outadore stayed perfect in his second career start with a 1¾ lengths victory under Irad Ortiz Jr. in 1:17.31. Fauci and jockey Tyler Gaffalione were 3¼ lengths ahead of the third-place horse, Cowan.

Outadore, the 9-5 favorite, paid $5.60 to win. The first-place money pushed his career earnings to $334,100.

Sunday’s racing moved to Tuesday

Kentucky Downs announced that because of Saturday’s rain and expectations of more inclement weather that Sunday’s 11-race card is being moved to Tuesday. The meet then will conclude with Wednesday’s scheduled card.

In addition, the Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge’s first live-money tournament scheduled Sunday now will be on Tuesday’s card. With the postponement, all the contest wagers will be made on Kentucky Downs races, as Monmouth Park does not run on Tuesday. Wednesday’s handicapping tournament will go on as scheduled that day.{&end}

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