09/08/2011 11:19AM

Assiniboia: Doc's Friend tries to teach younger rival a lesson in Gold Cup


Doc’s Friend, who has taken over as the top older horse on the grounds, and Big Blue Caboose, an up-and-coming 3-year-old, will lock horns at Assiniboia Saturday in the $50,000 Gold Cup.

The Gold Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and upward, will share top billing on the card with the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity, which is a six-furlong race for 2-year-olds.

Doc’s Friend, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old trained by Murray Duncan, burst into prominence with 3 1/2-length win in the 1 1/16-mile R.J. Speers on July 30. Three weeks later, in the 1 1/16-mile allowance prep for the Gold Cup, Doc’s Friend again put his tactical speed to good use to prevail by a neck over the talented filly Rubys Big Band.

Gustav Ortiz retains the mount on Doc’s Friend, who should be able to keep the free-running Big Blue Caboose in his sights and get the measure of his younger rival.

Big Blue Caboose is in rare form, however, as he stepped up his game when finishing a strong second in the 1 1/8 mile Manitoba Derby and then came back to romp by 9 1/2 lengths while competing under second-level allowance terms at one mile.

Trainer Jerry Gourneau again has named Jocelyne Kenny to ride Big Blue Caboose, who will be carrying 119 pounds and getting five pounds from his older rivals.

El Grayling, the only other 3-year-old in the field, has been freshened since finishing eighth as the even-money choice in the Aug. 1 Manitoba Derby. Rocco Bowen takes over aboard El Grayling for trainer Emile Corbel, and a sharply improved performance would not be surprising.

Balooga Bull, who has won his three starts in impressive fashion, will be the odds-on choice in the eight-horse Winnipeg Futurity lineup.

Owned by Paul Brandt and trained by Ardell Sayler, Balooga Bull won his debut at 4 1/2 furlongs in come-from-behind fashion, but then made all the running when capturing the 5 1/2-furlong Graduation and six-furlong Osiris. Mark Anderson regains the mount on Balooga Bull following a one-race hiatus.

Gospel Gal, one of three fillies in the Winnipeg Futurity field, finished 3 1/2 lengths behind Balooga Bull when second in the Graduation and then defeated members of her own sex in the 5 1/2-furlong Debutante. Regular rider Rohan Singh has the mount on Gospel Gal, who is owned by Terry Propps and trained by Charlie Smith.