Thursday, June 20, 2013
Eight set for Colonial Turf Cup
By Claire Novak
Atigun and Air Support head a solid field of eight older horses, including Swift Warrior, ready to duke it out in the $300,000 Colonial Turf Cup Stakes June 22 at Colonial Downs.
The 1 3/16-mile Colonial Turf Cup is featured as race 7 of 12 on a night racing card that kicks off at 5 p.m. EDT. The main event is slated for an approximate post time of 7:46 p.m.
Atigun, trained by Ken McPeek for Shortleaf Stable, comes off a runner-up performance just half a length behind Dark Cove in the May 25 Louisville Handicap. He raced rankly through the second turn and then was gaining but drifting out and unable to bridge the gap through the closing drive.
The 4-year-old Istan colt also won a May 4 allowance win since returning to turf after a lengthy campaign on dirt. Atigun was third last year in the Belmont Stakes and also ran third in the Breeders' Cup Marathon. He carries 118 and jockey Julien Leparoux from the rail.
Air Support and Swift Warrior are co-highweights at 120 pounds, the former breaking from post 6 under Javier Castellano and the latter leaving the 5 hole with Jose Espinoza in the irons.
Air Support, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for Stuart S. Janney III, is in search of a return to the winner's circle for the first time since taking the Bowling Green Stakes last September at Belmont Park.
The 5-year-old son of Smart Strike finished fourth behind Big Blue Kitten, Rahystrada, and Cease in a May 2 allowance event at Churchill Downs last time out. He gave way to Howe Great and Middie to run third after setting the pace in an April 6 allowance going 1 1/8 miles on the Keeneland turf in his first start of 2013.
James Covello's Swift Warrior put together two solid victories in the Jan. 26 John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes and the Feb. 16 Tampa Bay Stakes at the beginning of the year. But the 5-year-old First Samurai runner came back for trainer John Terranova II May 18 with a disappointing seventh in the Dixie Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Hyper is an intriguing addition to the mix off a troubled second in the May 15 Good Reward Stakes at Belmont. The 6-year-old son of Victory Gallop tried to get through several times on the rail and had to be taken up on multiple occasions, then finally found running room with about an eighth to go. He finished 1 ¾ lengths behind Teaks North in that 1 ¼-mile event for trainer Chad Brown, and should improve with a better trip.
Ellendale Racing's 2012 Maryland Million Turf Stakes winner Roadhog is the other stakes winner in the field, but has not won since that score last October. The 6-year-old son of Bowman's Band wheels back off a third in June 6 allowance company at Delaware Park to try this spot for trainer Elizabeth Merryman.
Also of interest is James Hackman and Glenn Thompson's Two Notch Road, third in the June 9 Monmouth Stakes after setting the pace last time out. The 6-year-old Partner's Hero gelding has yet to win a graded stakes race, but ran his best performance off the layup last time out after spending 2011 and 2012 on the sidelines. This horse was third in the 2010 edition of the Colonial Turf Cup behind Paddy O'Prado and Workin for Hops after setting the pace.
Completing the field are homebred allowance winners General Logan for Jack Swain and London Lane for Howard Bender.