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HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

Atigun Headlines the 2013 Colonial Turf Cup

Atigun 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire

The Saturday card at Colonial Downs features some very high quality turf races culminating in the $300,000 Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup! The undercard also features the $40,000 Old Nelson Handicap, the $75,000 Da Hoss Stakes, and the $100,000 Grade 3 Edward P. Evans All Along Stakes for fillies and mares. This all-turf card provides some great racing and value for the turf-racing fan! 


The Colonial Turf Cup has been run since 1995 and covers a distance of 9 ½ furlongs on the expansive turf course. Past winners of this race include English Channel, Battle of Hastings, Paddy O’Prado, and one of my favorite horses, Rahystrada! Barclay Tagg’s horse Showing Up set the stakes record in 2006 at a very fast time of 1:52.4. Two years ago the race actually changed its condition to allow for three year olds and upwards!! Sweet!
 
Here are a couple of replays of past Turf Cups!



(Paddy O'Prado in the 2010 Colonial Turf Cup)
 



(Turbo Compressor in the 2012 Colonial Turf Cup)
 
 
Without any further nonsense, here is the field for the 2013 edition of the Colonial Turf Cup!
 
Contenders:
 
Kenny McPeek sends the likely post time favorite to Colonial Downs after discovering Atigun’s new love for the grass. In his last two starts he has a victory in a strong allowance race at Churchill Downs, winning on the lead, and a second place finish in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap, missing the victory by just ½ length to Dark Cove. Atigun was the 2-1 post time favorite in that race and just missed rolling in late. I would expect Atigun to remain off the pace in this race and jockey Julien Leparoux is very good with the closing type of horse. This horse has also faced some very good company in the past.
 
This grandson of Giant’s Causeway and Afleet must definitely be considered as a win contender in this race. Before posting a bullet work at Belmont on June 16, this horse finished 7th in the Grade 2 Dixie on Preakness day; being caught 5-wide at the quarter pole before giving way to the pace-setting winner Optimizer. However before that, this horse had won two Grade 3 stakes in a row on the grass to start off the 2013 campaign. This horse has yet to go this long in a race, but he has the pedigree to get the distance.
 
As one of two horses with experience over the Colonial oval, Air Support should be considered to win this race as well. Let’s not forget that two years ago that this horse won the Virginia Derby by a neck over Banned, then in the next season finished second to Turbo Compressor in this very race. Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Shug McGaughey has spotted this five-time winner well as an entry to this race and this horse has been working out well as of late at Belmont. Lightly-raced thus far in 2013, Air Support should be ready to go and will likely be near the lead at the end of the race.

 

Worth a Look:

This 8-time winner has fared pretty well since returning to the USA from a stint in England last year. This horse has yet to miss the board in 2013. Jockey Jose Lezcano retains the mount for trainer Chad Brown. Hyper doesn’t have any graded stakes experience, but you can’t really ever count out a Ramsey horse on turf.

This six-time winning Pennsylvania-bred will be ridden by regional jockey Forest Boyce, whom HRN’s very own Gary Quill touted as a very good turf jockey. Roadhog has fared well in state-bred stakes races however he seems to be a bit overmatched in this field and I’m not sure this gelding can get the distance.
 
To me, this horse looked a bit outmatched on paper, but after looking a bit more closely, I would need to see how this horse looks on race day. Lightly-raced as a four year old, this horse has four wins out of six races already with two wins on the grass. Sure, he doesn’t have the Beyer speed figures that the rest of the field has, but he has been training well and trainer Graham Motion will have this horse ready to compete. I’m expecting some improvement in his second start of 2013.
 
Did you know there is a road in and around Richmond called Three Chopt Road which was originally called Three Notch’d Road? Hmm. Anyway, this sole Virginia-bred in the field returns to racing after a three year layoff. Having not raced since October of 2010, this horse jumped right back into graded stakes competition finishing 5th in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth back in May, and 3rd in the Grade 2 Monmouth. Both of these races were run on the lead and Two Notch Road outran his huge odds in both of these races. I’m definitely expecting this horse to set the pace in this affair. The question is whether or not he can hold the lead the whole way.
 
Head Scratcher:
 
#4 – London Lane – Outmatched in this field.
 
 
  
(Drawing by Mel!)  


Expected Pace Scenario:
 
As I mentioned above, I do expect Two Notch Road to set the pace and lead for most of the way. This horse is improving in form and it will be interesting to see if he can hold off the cavalry at the end. Atigun, Roadhog, Swift Warrior, and Air Support should be off the pace, perhaps midpack while the rest should be attempting to close from the back of the pack at the end. General Logan could flash some early speed too, and that would cause some trouble for the pace setter. Still, I expect the winner to come from off the pace.


My Pick:
 
I’d really prefer to select a horse with some graded stakes experience. That points me to Atigun, Swift Warrior, and Air Support. Unfortunately, as I don’t eat chalk, I’m afraid that these three will likely be the top three choices on the tote board. I think the wild-card here is the pace setting Two Notch Road who really seems to be the only early speed in the race. If you’re looking for a long shot play, try General Logan!


Who do you like in this year’s Colonial Turf Cup??


Please note that I will be providing exclusive Horse Racing Nation coverage for the entire Colonial Downs card! Follow along on Facebook or Twitter!
 

 

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Older Comments about Atigun Headlines the 2013 Colonial Turf Cup...

I just love how people think he's the best turf horse in the race after one turf race!
It's Hyper in a mild upset
Looked at the race again and Hyper is a good choice.
Is anyone Hyper? I might be.
I'm liking Atigun. Atigun; Air Support; Roadhog; Hyper
Hmm, I'm thinking more and more to go against Atigun...
I will pick Hyper from Chad Browns yard. I like him as a turf trainer and always has his horses ready to run on the lawn. Air Support would seem the logical choice, but I will pick against him.
I think Atigun wins this easily.
I like Swift Warrior myself.
Air Support--think he will like the distance and revisiting Colonial Downs. 6,1,2,3. Fun blog, Dark Horse!
I think you have it prettty much nailed Dark Horse, alhougth I have always been a big Air Support fan Atigun does seem to be at the top of his game!!
andy i like what your saying but ever since atigun switched to turf hes been a totally diffrent horse
Two Notch Road loved the Colonial turf course when he ran there twice as a 3YO. Two Notch Road recorded one of the biggest long shot payouts to ever win at Monmouth Park ($216.40) in his first career turf start. How is that for a dark horse?
I am on record as saying Atigun would be a force on the turf ... it begins in Virginia!

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
 
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
 
While finishing school in Chicago, I spent every possible moment at Arlington Park with my dad.  We took the time to develop computer programs (on the ever popular Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS) to try to find patterns and handicap races more accurately.  My dad taught me a lot about handicapping races, paying particular attention to class moves!

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