#10 Arklow has lost six straight races since he prevailed in the 2018 edition of the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs, but the son of Arch should relish the return to Southern Kentucky to defend his title Saturday, September 7.
It’s hard to knock anything Arklow has done since last year’s Kentucky Cup Turf, in which he unleashed a strong late rally to defeat grade 1 winner Bigger Picture by half-length. If you forgive an allowance race at Keeneland, where Arklow lost his rider at the start, he’s hasn’t missed the superfecta while competing in tough races like the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Man o’ War Stakes (G1) and Belmont Gold Cup (G1).
Arklow ran too good to lose in the latter two races. In the Man o’ War, he came flying from off the pace to fall a neck short of grade 1 winner Channel Maker, with subsequent Arlington Million (G1) runner-up Magic Wand checking in third. Then in the Belmont Gold Cup at two miles, Arklow took the lead in deep stretch, only to be nabbed in the final strides.
Arklow prepped for a return to the Kentucky Turf Cup with a third-place finish in the Bowling Green Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, where a pedestrian pace compromised his late rally. Despite this unfavorable setup, Arklow fell just a half-length short of victory.
Arklow is unlucky not to have won a race in the last year, and I expect he’ll make amends in the Kentucky Turf Cup. His proven affinity for Kentucky Downs is a huge asset, since this unique, European-style turf course can be tricky for some horses to handle. Just as importantly he’ll have regular rider Florent Geroux in the saddle, and Geroux is a master of the Kentucky Downs turf. Since 2014 Geroux has won more races (40) than any other jockey, with a strong 25% win rate. He has also won three of the last five editions of the Kentucky Turf Cup.
Other logical contenders include #5 Bigger Picture and #9 Zulu Alpha, two experienced graded stakes winners conditioned by three-time Kentucky Turf Cup-winning trainer Michael Maker. But for exotics, the horse I’m really interested in is #11 Campaign.
Although Campaign has been running on dirt as of late, where he won the Cougar II Handicap (G3) and Tokyo City Cup (G3) going 1 1/2 miles, the son of Curlin has also shown strong form on grass. Last year he packed two victories into a single week at Kentucky Downs, where he unleashed powerful rallies to score maiden and allowance victories. A return to turf—and Kentucky Downs—could trigger a huge effort from this stoutly bred colt, who has posted six straight triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace ratings. He might even have what it takes to challenge Arklow for supremacy.
Let’s key Arklow and Campaign in the trifecta while hitting the “ALL” button underneath. With luck we’ll catch a longshot in second or third place to boost the payoff.
$0.50 trifecta: 10,11 with 10,11 with 5,9,12 ($3)
$0.50 trifecta: 10,11 with 5,9,12 with 10,11 ($3)
$0.50 trifecta: 10,11 with 10,11 with ALL ($10)
$0.50 trifecta: 10,11 with ALL with 10,11 ($10)