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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

General Election Back Under Twin Spires

General Election 615 X 400
Photo: Four Footed Fotos
WinStar Farm LLC’s General Election got his career off to an auspicious start nearly a year ago beneath the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. 

On Saturday night he will return to the Louisville track in an attempt hit the “reset” button on his 3-year-old season following a pair of disappointing summer races.

Despite those setbacks, General Election is the 3-1 morning line favorite in a field on nine 3-year-olds entered in the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII), which will be run at a mile over the Matt Winn Turf Course. It will be his first outing at Churchill Downs since the bay son of Harlan’s Holiday rolled to a three-length victory on dirt in his racing debut on Nov. 24.
There have been plenty of highlights in the 3-year-old season for General Election, who is trained by Lexington-based Kellyn Gorder. They include a victory over Turfway Park’s synthetic Polytrack surface in the John Battaglia Memorial, a runner-up finish over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland in the Coolmore Lexington (GIII) and, most recently, a 13-1 win over the Arlington Park turf in the May 25 Arlington Classic (GIII).
But two races since that triumph have resulted in little more than frustration. The most recent was a trip to Southern California that resulted in a fifth-place finish in a division of the Del Mar Derby (GII). The stretch-running General Election was beaten by only two lengths by Ethnic Dance in that 1 1/8-mile outing although he was forced to chase slow early fractions of :49.45 for the half mile and six furlongs in 1:13.45 that did little to set-up his late charge.

“It wasn’t a bad effort,” Gorder said. “That race was split into two divisions and we were unlucky enough to get the one that didn’t have any pace.”

Prior to his trip to Del Mar, General Election had a difficult experience at Arlington Park in the American Derby (GIII).  He finished seventh in a field of 10 in that race and was vanned back to the barn following the race.
“He stumbled and took a bad step right before the wire,” Gorder said. “He bobbled a little bit and (jockey) Joe (Rocco Jr.) jumped off of him, just as a precaution. We got him back to the barn and he cooled-out fine, and we went over him when we got back to the Lexington, but didn’t come up with much. We’re thinking just stepped in a soft spot or a divot.”
Rocco, who has ridden Gorder’s colt in three of his last four starts, will be back in the saddle on Saturday when General Election meets seven other 3-year-olds in the one-mile Jefferson Cup.         

“It’s a good spot and we don’t have to go halfway across the country, like we did last time,” Gorder said. “It might be a little shorter than his ideal distance. He’s done his best running at a mile-and-a-sixteenth.”

General Election is the narrow pre-race favorite over Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Redwood Kitten, a front-running winner of the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day and third to Gabriel Charles in the other division of the Del Mar Derby in his most recent outing. Redwood Kitten is listed at 7-2 in the Jefferson Cup’s morning line odds.

The versatile General Election stands at 3-2-0 in nine races and each of his three wins has come over a different surface: dirt at Churchill Downs, synthetic Polytrack at Turfway Park and grass at Arlington Park.   

Gorder is optimistic that his colt’s spotless record at Churchill Downs will remain intact Saturday evening after the Jefferson Cup has been run.

“It looks like this race might set up for him,” Gorder said. “There’s some speed in there and hopefully Joe will get him good position and make a nice run.”


He’s a pre-race longshot for Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion, but Copper Penny Stable’s Tate’s Landing is a colt that could be a contender in Saturday night’s competitive 37th running of the Jefferson Cup, which shares the racing spotlight with the $175,000-added Homecoming Classic on the final “Downs After Dark” night racing program of Churchill Downs’ September Meet.
Tate’s Landing won one of three starts on dirt at two for trainer Michael Pino before he moved to the turf at Laurel Park and rolled to an easy 3 ½-length victory at odds of 23-1 in the Laurel Futurity. He followed that victory with an eighth-place finish in the Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park in December and moved to Motion’s stable in early 2013.
The 3-year-old son of Orientate trained steadily through the spring and summer with Motion’s stable at Maryland’s Fair Hill Training Center. He finally returned to racing on Sept. 7 with a fourth-place run in a field of nine in a six-furlong sprint over the grass at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky.
“He trained very well in the spring and I kind of like the idea of starting off sprinting,” Motion said via telephone from Fair Hill. “I think, to be honest, this horse can do most anything. I think he can turf or dirt, but it just seemed like a good idea to start him off there at Kentucky Downs.”
Tate’s Landing was beaten by just 2 ¼ lengths in his solid return at Kentucky Downs, and Motion felt a return to stakes competition in the Jefferson Cup was a logical next step for the colt.
“This race was a good fit, timing-wise, so I kind of had it in the back of my mind,” Motion said. “It worked out well because we had a few horses at Churchill Downs, so he didn’t have to ship all the way back.”
Tate’s Landing brings a career record of 2-1-0 in six races and earnings of $106,820 in the Jefferson Cup.
Tate’s Landing was one of two Motion-trained horses entered to run in the Jefferson Cup, but Motion said Friday that Newcal Stable’s Rapscallion would be scratched from the race. The son of Speightstown who ran second to Frac Daddy in a Saratoga allowance last time out and has yet to run worse than third in his four career starts. 
The Jefferson Cup would have been the stakes debut for Rapscallion, but Motion has decided to take more time with the colt.
“I think it’s just too big a step for him,” Motion said. “I thought the race came up very competitive.”


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