Smart Bid, Court Vision Meet in Turf Cup

Smart Bid was named early 2-1 favorite shortly after Wednesday’s post position draw for this Saturday’s $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs.

A total of eight horses entered the seventh running of the stakes, but unlike the first six editions that were open exclusively to three year olds, this edition is for three year olds and up. As a result, only one sophomore nominated for the stakes and that one didn’t enter. The Turf Cup, which had been a Grade II stakes, lost its graded status due to that age condition tweak.

Four of the Turf Cup entrants squared off against each other in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby Day card.

Smart Bid, with earnings of $651,278, is fresh off a strong runner up effort in that race. The 5 year old Smart Strike horse came within three-quarters of a length of winning, but fell to Get Stormy. Prior to the Churchill out, he won the Grade 2 Munoz Handicap at Fairgrounds and lost by a nose in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Trained by Graham Motion, Smart Bid has made four straight starts on turf, all under the direction of Edgar Prado, who will be in the irons again at Colonial on Saturday.

Second early choice at 3-1 is Moryba, a 5 year old Brazilian-bred Hard Rock horse who has had three starts in the U.S.. Rajiv Maragh will be up top for for trainer Bill Mott, who has three Virginia Derby triumphs to his credit. Moryba, fifth most recently in that Grade I Turf Classic, lost by a head to Smart  Bid in the Grade 2 Munoz Stakes at Fairgrounds in March after winning a late January allowance race at Gulfstream. All but $5,000 of Moryba's $552,000 earnings have come on grass.

Court Vision, at 7-2, is one of the most accomplished horses to have ever run at Colonial Downs in its fifteen year history. The 6 year old Gulch horse lost by a head to Gio Ponti in the 2008 Virginia Derby and has accumulated over $2.6 million in earnings. In 19 turf starts, Court Vision has five wins and a total of ten “in the money” finishes, good for $2,256.936 in grass earnings. Ramon Dominguez will ride for trainer Richard Dutrow.

Ninth most recently in the Turf Classic at Churchill, Court Vision has had but a pair of outings this year. His other effort came at Keeneland in another Grade I stakes, the Makers Mark, where he was a respectable fourth. His last win came in September, 2010 in the Grade I Woodbine Mile Handicap.

Guys Reward is fourth favorite at 9-2 based on a $272,765 bankroll and ten consecutive “in the money” finishes. The 4 year old Grand Reward colt is trained by Dale Romans, who won the 2010 Turf Cup and Virginia Derby with Paddy O’Prado. Corey Nakatani will direct Guys Reward.

Next is Rahystrada, who finished a respectable fourth in that Churchill Turf Classic, two lengths behind the winner. The 7 year old Rahy horse was fourth in last year’s Arlington Million and has won $529,604 on grass. Local leading jockey Sheldon Russell rides for trainer Byron Hughes.

Rounding out the field are Dark Cove, who scored an allowance win at Keeneland’s most recent fall and spring meet, Sierra Alpha, who had back to back allowance wins at Gulfstream this winter, and Silver Mountain, who has earned $152,000 on turf.

The Turf Cup has been carded as the seventh of eleven races on Saturday’s card. Other stakes that evening include the $100,000 Edward P. Evans All Along, the $50,000 Da Hoss and the $30,000 Old Nelson Starter Handicap.

First post is at 5:00 PM. The first 3,000 paid admissions will receive a free 18 can Cooler Bag which includes a free Virginia Derby come back party ticket to the “Hoot on the Hill”. There will be a microbrew sampling tent, and the Breakfast Club will perform a trackside concert at 4 PM and continue playing between races. The track also has a BYOB tailgate area set up for up to 65 cars. Presale tickets are $20 per carload and $30 day of.


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