Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Del Mar Derby (Grade II) third Redwood Kitten
and Arlington Classic (GIII) winner General Election
head a competitive field of nine 3-year-olds enter
for Saturday night’s 36th
running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII) at Churchill Downs.
The Jefferson Cup, a one-mile
turf event that honors the most populous county in the Commonwealth of
Kentucky, will run as Race 8 at 9:39 p.m. (all times Eastern) on a
special 11-race “Downs After Dark Presented
by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka” program billed as “Homecoming Dance: A Night to Remember.”
The Jefferson Cup is the
second of two stakes events – the first is the inaugural $175,000-added
Homecoming Classic headlined by reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI)
champion Fort Larned – and will be the first
leg of a $100,000-guaranteed Late Pick 4 that covers Races 8-11.
Saturday’s first race is 6
p.m. and admission gates will open at 4 p.m. It is the final Saturday
and penultimate day of Churchill Downs’ first 12-date September Meet.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Redwood Kitten is likely to vie for favoritism after a good third in the $251,250 Del Mar Derby behind Gabriel Charles and Gervinho on Sept. 1. The Wesley Ward
who has done his best running on the front-end, won the $100,000 James
W. Murphy at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard in May and was fifth in
the $500,000 Virginia Derby (GII) at Colonial Downs in June.
Redwood Kitten, a two-time
winner and $167,050-earner from 11 starts, will break from the inside
hedge under high-percentage rider Ricardo Santana Jr., who rides the Kitten’s Joy gelding for the first time.
Redwood Kitten isn’t the only
horse with a fondness of being forwardly placed in the early stages of a
race. Saratoga maiden winner and first-level allowance runner-up Rapscallion, trained by Graham Motion;
Balino, runaway winner of Calder’s $72,200 Naked Greed in early August; and Miceli, second to Sayaad in Saratoga’s $100,000 Dance of Life on Aug. 21 for trainer Adam Kitchingman all have displayed front-running tactics.
That may bode well for WinStar Farm’s General Election,
who rallied to win the $150,000 Arlington Classic in May. The Harlan’s
Holiday colt finished three-quarters of a length behind Redwood Kitten
the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Derby for trainer Kellyn Gorder. Overall, he’s won three of nine starts and a field-best $218,110 with a pair of seconds, including a runner-up effort behind Winning Cause in the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (GIII) on Keeneland’s
The field also includes Tate’s Landing,
who returns three weeks after a fourth-place finish against allowance
company at Kentucky Downs to make his second start off a layoff over a
route of ground for Motion;
trainer Wayne Catalano’s Saratoga allowance/optional claiming race winner Gentleman’s Kitten, also owned by the Ramseys; Charles Cella’s Ray’s Away, who was finished a length in front of Tate’s Landing at Kentucky Downs for trainer
Lynn Whiting; and the Mike Trombetta-conditioned One More Cat, who was fourth in the Dance of Life.
The Jefferson Cup field from the rail out with jockeys: Redwood Kitten (Santana); Rapscallion (Miguel Mena
); Balino (Brian Hernandez Jr.
); Tate’s Landing (Robby Albarado
); General Election
(Joe Rocco Jr.
); Miceli (Corey Lanerie
); One More Cat (Shaun Bridgmohan
); Gentleman’s Kitten (Norberto Arroyo Jr.
); and Ray’s Away (Leandro Goncalves
The Jefferson Cup
reappears at Churchill Downs’ September Meet after a one-year hiatus.
Previously, it was staged during the Spring Meet from 1977-2011.
Albarado, who rides Tate’s Landing, has won the race
a record four times: King Cugat
(2000), Senor Swinger
(2003), Rush Bay
(2005) and Brilliant
(2006). Bridgmohan, the rider of One More Cat, won the 2007 renewal on
Inca King. All other jockeys, trainers and owners are seeking their
first Jefferson Cup win. The Ramseys are looking to avenge their loss in
2004 when favorite Kitten’s Joy
, who would become that year’s Champion Turf Male, was beaten a head by Prince Arch
over a “yielding” Matt Winn Turf Course.
This will be the
first time the race will be contested at one mile. It was a 1 1/8-mile
grass race from 1983-2009, and was 1 1/16 miles on turf in 2000-11.