The Pick­ett Fac­tor at 8-5 in Su­per Derby

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Mary Ram­pellini

The Pick­ett Fac­tor was made a slight morn­ing-line fa­vorite over Al­lied Air Raid for the Grade 2, $400,000 Su­per Derby on Satur­day at Louisiana Downs. En­tries for the 1 1/8-mile race were taken Wed­nes­day.

The field of seven also in­cludes Prime En­gine, the Washington in­vader who will break from the rail, and Mo­bile Bay, who will break from post 7 un­der Edgar Prado.

The Pick­ett Fac­tor, who was made 8-5 for the Su­per Derby, and Al­lied Air Raid, 9-5, ran one-two in last month’s $100,000 Pre­lude at Louisiana Downs. The Pick­ett Fac­tor earned a fees-paid berth into the Su­per Derby by virtue of the win. He will break from post 3 un­der Don­nie Meche. Al­lied Air Raid will start from post 5 un­der Chris Lan­deros.

Russ Ramstad, who set the Su­per Derby line for Louisiana Downs, noted that Al­lied Air Raid was 4-5 and The Pick­ett Fac­tor 5-2 for the Pre­lude. He thinks The Pick­ett Fac­tor might be fa­vored Satur­day af­ter his Pre­lude win.

“But it will be re­ally close,” he said. “It’s a coin flip.”

The Su­per Derby will an­chor a 13-race card Satur­day. There is an early post of noon Cen­tral for the card, which in­cludes seven stakes worth a to­tal of $900,000. The Su­per Derby is the fi­nal leg of an all-stakes pick four that runs on races 8-11 and has a guar­an­teed pool of $100,000.

The Su­per Derby field from the rail with riders and morn­ing-line odds: Prime En­gine, Joe Steiner, 9-2; Four Leaf Chief, Ger­ard Me­lan­con, 12-1; The Pick­ett Fac­tor, 8-5, Meche; Fu­saichi Flame, Shane Lavi­o­lette, 20-1; Al­lied Air Raid, Lan­deros, 9-5; Cho­copolo­gie, Richard Eramia, 12-1; Mo­bile Bay, Prado, 6-1.

The Pick­ett Fac­tor de­feated four of his Su­per Derby ri­vals in the Pre­lude. He was mak­ing his stakes de­but in the race, and it marked his third straight win. Ralph Ir­win trains The Pick­ett Fac­tor for Melissa Can­tacuzene.

Prime En­gine en­ters the Su­per Derby off a six-length win in the Emer­ald Derby. Mo­bile Bay was third in the Pre­lude af­ter win­ning back-to­back state­bred stakes at Evan­ge­line Downs.

Ken­tucky Downs: Turf Cup

The rich­est card in Ken­tucky Downs history will con­clude Satur­day with the lone graded race of the five-day meet, the Grade 3 Ken­tucky Turf Cup, a 1 1/2-mile race that drew an over­sub­scribed field of older turf horses.

The $600,000 Turf Cup is one of four stakes and the fi­nale on a 10-race pro­gram with a po­ten­tial value of more than $2.2 mil­lion in com­bined purses. The other stakes, each worth $300,000, di­rectly pre­cede the Turf Cup as races 7-9. First post is 1:35 p.m. Cen­tral at the turf-only track in south-cen­tral Ken­tucky.

Here is a quick run­down of the Satur­day stakes:

Grade 3, $600,000 Ken­tucky Turf Cup (race 10, post 6:10 Cen­tral): Trainer Mike Maker has three of the 12 starters in the main body but none for his long­time main clients, Ken and Sarah Ram­sey, who hap­pen to be rep­re­sented with one of the prob­a­ble fa­vorites, Hy­per, in here with Chad Brown. The Maker run­ners are Da Big Hoss, Ro­man Ap­proval, and Quiet Force.

It’s a nearly in­scrutable race with a suf­fi­cient amount of pace in the form of Ro­man Ap­proval, Az Ridge, and Dram­edy, while most of the field has ex­pe­ri­ence in graded events and/or grass marathons such as this. Track odd­s­maker Joe Kristufek said he found the top con­tenders “hard to sep­a­rate,” and it will be a sur­prise if the post­time fa­vorite is lower than 3-1, as­sum­ing the field holds in­tact.

The Turf Cup (for­merly the Ken­tucky Cup Turf ) has been the sig­na­ture race at Ken­tucky Downs since 1991, ex­cept for when it was not run in 1996-97. It will be the fi­nal leg of an all­stakes pick four wa­ger.

$300,000 Ken­tucky Downs Turf Dash (race 9, 5:40): While owner Jim Mcing­vale thought long and hard about run­ning King’s Bishop win­ner Run­happy right back in this 6 1/2-fur­long race, he re­lented,

leav­ing a well-matched field of 11. Green Mask, mak­ing his first start since fin­ish­ing third in the $1 mil­lion Al Quoz Sprint on the March 28 Dubai World Cup un­der­card for Wes­ley Ward, could go off as a luke­warm fa­vorite over Holy Lute, Chan­nel Marker, and Mosler.

$300,000 Ken­tucky Downs Ladies Sprint (race 8, 5:09): Shrink­ing Vi­o­let stretches out off a 104 Beyer Speed Fig­ure, and Theatre Star turns back from longer races when ship­ping in from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to take part in a very in­trigu­ing 6 1/2-fur­long race that also drew Nas­sau Stakes win­ner Sky Trea­sure and a hand­ful of other vi­able con­tenders. Twelve fil­lies and mares are en­tered.

$300,000 Du­el­ing Grounds Derby (race 7, 4:38): Clos­ing Bell, the 14-1 run­ner-up be­hind run-off win­ner High­land Reel in the Grade 1 Sec­re­tar­iat last out, is the 2-1 morn­ing-line fa­vorite for Wins­tar Farm and trainer Bill Mott in a 1 5/16-mile race that drew 11 3-year-olds.

Bel­mont Park: Sands Point

The Euro­pean in­va­sion that New York Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of­fi­cials had hoped would ma­te­ri­al­ize for the Stars and Stripes card two months ago hap­pened for Satur­day’s Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point Stakes at Bel­mont Park.

Only two Euro­pean-based 3-year-old fil­lies came across the pond for the Grade 1, $1 mil­lion Bel­mont Oaks In­vi­ta­tional on July 4. But four Euro­pean-based run­ners help make up a 12-horse field – in­clud­ing one for the main track only – en­tered Wed­nes­day for the Sands Point. Like the Bel­mont Oaks, the Sands Point is a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fil­lies.

Europe will be rep­re­sented by mul­ti­ple Group 3 win­ners Osaila and Mal­abar as well as Iromea and Blond Me.

For Osaila, this will be her sec­ond trip to the U.S. Last fall, she shipped to Santa Anita for the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies Turf and fin­ished third, five lengths be­hind win­ner Lady Eli.

“She was run­ning on,” trainer Richard Han­non said by phone Wed­nes­day from Don­caster, Eng­land. “She liked the race­track. She’s run very well this year.”

Osaila has two wins and a sec­ond-place fin­ish from four starts this year. Her only bad race was a sev­enth in the 1000 Guineas at New­mar­ket in May.

The Sands Point will be the first race be­yond a mile for Osaila, who has won at seven fur­longs and a mile. Han­non be­lieves the added dis­tance will only help Osaila, who will be rid­den by Javier Castel­lano from post 9.

Mal­abar is com­ing off a Group 3 vic­tory over males at Good­wood af­ter com­pet­ing in five con­sec­u­tive Group 1 races re­sult­ing in a trio of fourth­place fin­ishes.

Mal­abar is trained by Michael Chan­non, who in 2012 sent Sami­tar to the U.S., where she fin­ished third, beaten a neck, in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga. Sami­tar stayed in the U.S. with Chad Brown and won the Grade 1 Gar­den City over this course.

Asked about Mal­abar, as­sis­tant trainer Michael Chan­non Jr. wrote in an e-mail: “She’s a proven Group 3 win­ner with a high level of form at [the] Group 1 level at home, and we learned from Sami­tar that fil­lies can make the trip over to the States and com­pete.”

Blond Me fin­ished sec­ond in a Group 2 at Sandown last out, and Iromea has one win from three ca­reer starts. Iromea is ex­pected to stay in the U.S. with Christophe Cle­ment af­ter this race.

The U.S. will be well rep­re­sented with Lake Placid Stakes one-two fin­ish­ers Sen­tiero Italia and Miss Tem­ple City in the field as well as Grade 2 Lake Ge­orge win­ner Mrs Mcdou­gal, who drew post 11.

The rest of those en­tered for turf are Her Em­my­nency, sec­ond in the Del Mar Oaks; Cara Marie, third in the Lake Placid; Marabea, an al­lowance win­ner at Delaware; and Tapitry, sec­ond in a first-level al­lowance at Saratoga. Pang­burn was en­tered for the main track only.

Churchill: Ju­ve­nile stakes

It’s nearly eight months away, but that won’t stop rac­ing fans from think­ing about the first week­end in May at Churchill Downs when backto-back stakes for 2-year-olds are run Satur­day as part of a four-stakes pack­age.

The Grade 3, $150,000 Iro­quois Stakes is the first of 35 points races to­ward the 2016 Ken­tucky Derby. Sim­i­larly, the Grade 2, $200,000 Poc­a­hon­tas Stakes – the rich­est race of the Septem­ber meet – is the first of 31 points races to the 2016 Ken­tucky Oaks. The win­ner of each 1 1/16 -mile race will earn 10 el­i­gi­bil­ity points.

The Iro­quois, which drew 12 colts and geld­ings, goes as the ninth of 11 races on a Satur­day pro­gram that starts at 12:45 p.m. Eastern. There are two win­ners of un­graded stakes – Cocked and Loaded (Tre­mont) and Ex­pected Ruler (Tyro) – and five maid­ens in what shapes up as a fas­ci­nat­ing hand­i­cap­ping event, es­pe­cially with most of them stretch­ing out for the first time.

The Poc­a­hon­tas, with eight fil­lies, di­rectly pre­cedes the Iro­quois as the eighth race and fig­ures to have a solid fa­vorite in Just Wicked, the win­ner of the Grade 2 Adiron­dack at Saratoga in her last start. Jose Or­tiz will be in from New York to ride the Tapit home­bred Just Wicked for Winchell Thor­ough­breds and trainer Steve As­mussen.

Both the Iro­quois and Poc­a­hon­tas are Win and You’re In events to­ward the Oct. 30 -31 Breed­ers’ Cup at Keeneland.

The Satur­day card also in­cludes two un­graded $100,000 stakes, both for fil­lies and mares: the Open Mind (race 5) at six fur­longs and the Lo­cust Grove (race 10) at 1 1/16 miles.

REED PALMER PHO­TOG­RA­PHY/EMER­ALD DOWNS

Prime En­gine wins the Emer­ald Derby by six lengths Aug. 9.

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