KD Turf Cup (Grade 2) (BC)- $1,000.000 Purse
KD- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Half on the Turf
September 9, 2023
All eyes will be on KD this weekend, with a tremendous slate of racing with six stakes running for purses of at $1,000.000. Among those is the 11th running of the KD Turf Cup, which sends its field the maximum distance of twelve furlongs while providing a ticket to the BC Turf for its winner. The race was first run here in 2011 as a smaller Grade 3, then took a couple years off. When it reappeared in 2014, the purse had increased from $150.000 to $600.000, then in 2019, it would be set at $1,000.000, which is where it has been since. Some well-known names have picked up the win here, but only one has managed to win it twice. That would be Raj Action Packed, who won in 2019 and 2021. Last year, the winner was Aerialist, for Mb Stables. That horse is still running well and was seen last week finishing third in the DMR Mile. We’ll have thirteen heading to the starting gate this year, let’s take a look at them now!
#1- Americas Hope (Nakamura Stables, ridden by F T Alvarado)- Finished fifth in the BC Turf last year, and has gone on to win twice in 2023 thus far. Last month was one of those wins, taking the $250.000 KD Preview Turf Cup at ELP which theoretically should be a very good thing for this race. In May, he ran second in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at SA, so he has continued to show flashes of what made him a BC horse last year and there’s no reason to think that he cannot get right back there. This isn’t the Preview though; this is the real thing.
#2- Sensei (Mb Stables, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- This will be the first time that Mb Stables sends Sensei out to the turf, as ever since he purchased him in March 2022, it’s been all main three-year-old. The results were strong, and looking at what he has done in his last three races, you might even wonder why things are being changed up like this. Sensei has ten turf starts with a win the DMR Derby back in 2021 and Mb has been getting him ready in advance for this, so it’s not something being done on a whim. If it works out well, it will only increase the options down the road.
#3- High Fives (High Voltage, ridden by D Davis)- Around this time last year, High Fives registered his signature win, taking the DMR Handicap. However, he has not won a race since then, and his overall 3-for-31 clip isn’t going to intimidate any of his rivals here. In 2023, he has run six times and only twice has he finished in the money. What he did do, though, is run a very good race in his last start, which was a solid second to Ptyrannical in the Grade 2 Bowling Green. Can we count on him to put another strong race out there right after?
#4- On Fire (Mb Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- A three-year-old that is at the top of his game right now. His last two races have been up in New York, where he ran in both the BEL Derby and SAR Derby, winning the former and running fifth in the latter. That said, in the SAR Derby, he was still within a quarter length of the winner. Throwing out his debut, he has won five out of eight and only failed to the board on one occasion. Perhaps this is the next in line in horses from Mb Stables that will become a true superstar, and he is certainly bred to be one, being by Tactical and out of Wicked Heat.
#5- Dark Arts (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by L Saez)- You have to go back all the way to March 2021 to find the last time that this horse won a race. None of his wins have come at a track greater than TAM or TUP, as well. Earlier this year, he was very close, showing, at minimum, that he belongs running at this level. With a little more luck, he may have won both the Man O War and the Manhattan. Didn’t show much in his last two, so it is hard to like him in this field. If he was still on an upswing from the Manhattan, I could see him as a spoiler. Maybe, he still can be.
#6- The Great Goodbye (Onlineracingclub.com, ridden by P Husbands)- Early in his career, The Great Goodbye had a handful of stake starts and he did win the $100.000 Paradise Creek more recently than the last time Dark Arts won something. He had been mostly a horse in overnights for the longest time until Onlineracingclub.com ran him in the AP Million fresh off of claiming him for $15.000. In that, he would run sixth of eight, so another test is needed to see what he is capable of doing at this level. He’s certainly getting that challenge here.
#7- Harry Met Meghan (Gdp Inc, ridden by R M Hernandez)- A veteran seven-year-old gelding that will be making the 43rd start of his career. Nine of them are wins, but the most recent won was just a little more than a year ago in an optional claimer at MTH. He really has not shown much in three of his last four races, but he did open some eyes with a work at MTH over the weekend and that is likely the reason he has been entered here. Has to translate that to the track, though, something that he has not been doing enough of lately.
#8- Killer Instinct (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Silvera)- Last ran in the AP Million last month at CNL, a tough way to make your turf debut, but Killer Instinct was up to the challenge and nearly pulled it off. After setting the pace, he would settle for second in a tight photo but with that experience behind him, you have to like his chances to be a top contender here. Back in June at CD, he would win the Grade 3 Blame, which is one of four wins over his last nine races. Lately, when he doesn’t win, he seems to miss hitting the board entirely.
#9- Ptyrannical (Arindel, ridden by D E Centeno)- Scored a big win here last year over this big weekend, grabbing the Grade 3 Mint Million. His success continued into this year, capturing the Pegasus World Cup Turf in January as one of his three graded wins on the year. Had no problem with his trip to SAR, either, where he won the Grade 2 Bowling Green for his tenth career win. Have to like that he knows how to win the big ones, and that has helped him earn over $2,700.000 for his career. Cashed a third-place check in the BC Mile last year.
#10- Martinez (Royalty Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- There was nothing wrong with the way that he had been racing earlier in his career, but the move to the grass seems to have really helped him out. That surface move happened in June, and he was second in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge that day at BEL. After running well in the BEL Derby, he made the trip up I-87 to SAR and ran in the SAR Derby, a race that he won. Martinez has become known as a closer, so assuming that’s the plan again, everyone will need to be mindful of where he is in the late moments.
#11- Iceman (Okm Stables, ridden by I Castillo)- The trainer looks for their first career graded stake win here in the KD Turf Cup, so certainly it would be a great way to get it. Iceman has proven to be a great claim, as Okm Stables picked him up for $50.000 back in May, won an allowance, then ran him in the Wise Dan. That went decently, and six weeks later he won the $100.000 Oceanport Centennial at MTH. This is a big step up from that, but he gets his rider from that and is working well in preparation. Still, this is a tough assignment.
#12- Anemoi (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by M Franco)- Picked up by the trainer in private sales for $100.000 after a solid career in overnights led to a third-place finish in the Kingston. Mo Mentum Farm has gotten a little bit of everything in the three race since then, including a dud in the Bowling Green which turned into a win in the $135.000 Johns Call. This isn’t Johns Call, and I am a little concerned about the Bowling Green result here, because this race is more like that, and even an upgrade from that. Naturally, the trainer is confident, but I would spend my wagering dollars elsewhere.
#13- Search Engine (Keith Austin Inc, ridden by G W Corbett)- This one was a BC runner back in 2021, and finished second in the BC Juvenile Turf that year, but he has mostly been quiet since then. Prior trainer Hippyheart didn’t test him a ton, and while Search Engine hit the board often, they were in overnights. Keith Austin Inc picked him up in the June auction for $50.000 and has run him twice. First was an open allowance win at FE, but then he was tested much more in the $150.000 Birdstone where he placed second in the mud. I’m glad to see this horse get this chance, and he could be a sleeper in here. If only he didn’t have to start from this post.