Temeraine Wins Kentucky Downs Turf Cup Under Gary Stevens
By Dick Downey
He was riding at Kentucky Downs for the first time in a Hall of Fame career, and he said he felt a bit intimidated by it, but Gary Stevens won the Grade III Kentucky Downs Turf Cup Stakes aboard Temeraine.
Stevens has been around Kentucky Downs off and on since Tuesday, when he helped other Hall of Fame riders bolster attendance at a dinner in support of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. He signed autographs to raise more money on Wednesday and was supposed to ride in the ninth and tenth races on the card. But a thunderstorm knocked out the tote system, and the card was cancelled after the fourth race.
Stevens got Temeraine up by a neck in an exciting finish after pacesetter Whatthecatdrugin set very moderate fractions in the 1 1/2-mile race. The son of Arch was timed in 2:29.18 in the $400,000 Turf Cup.
Olympic Thunder, who tracked Whatthecatdrugin into the stretch, stayed on for second. Suntracer, trained by Chris Block, finished third. Block won last year's Turf Cup with Ioya Bigtime. Potomac River finished fourth, followed by Amen Kitten, Side Road and Whathecatdrugin. Najjaar and Royal Bench (IRE) were scratched.
"He's an athletic horse. I really couldn't see anything except the two horse (Whatthecatdrugin) that had speed. Everything else had the same style," Stevens said.
When asked if they were in tight while trying to slip through for the win, Stevens said, "Well, that's what I mean by him being athletic."
Asked to attribute a reason for Temeraine's success after three consecutive losses, trainer Tom Proctor made onlookers laugh in the relaxed atmosphere of the Kentucky Downs paddock.
"He's lost a little weight. He's been overweight like his trainer and owner," Proctor said.
Asked about his plans for Temeraine, the good-natured Proctor said, "We're going to give him a bath."
Most recently, Temeraine finished fifth, beaten only 3 3/4 lengths, in the Grade I Arlington Million after running a very close second in the Grade III Arlington Handicap and fifth in an allowance race.
Temeraine is out of the Known Fact mare Lonely Fact. Bred in Kentucky by Donard H. Niall and Michael L. Niall, he's owned by Timothy B. Turney's and Patrick F. Turney's Niall Racing.
The win was the fifth of Temeraine's 16-race career. His paycheck of $261,723 eclipsed his prior career earnings of $174,770, pushing his total money earned to $436,493.
All-sources handle for Saturday's 10-race card at Kentucky Downs was $2,816,019. That's close to the record set the previous Saturday, when the figure was $2,837,897. Kentucky Downs and Churchill Downs raced pretty much toe-to-toe today. Last Saturday, the Louisville track had night racing, and the cards of the two tracks barely overlapped compared to today's racing.