09/13/2012 3:14PM

Assiniboia Downs: Balooga Bull short price in the Gold Cup


Balooga Bull, who has stamped himself as the best horse at Assiniboia Downs, will be looking to wind up his sophomore campaign on a high note when he faces eight rivals in Saturday’s Gold Cup.

The $50,000 Gold Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race which is the premier local test for 3-year-olds and upward, will go as the last of eight races on a program that also includes the $50,000 Winnipeg Futurity for 2-year-olds.

Balooga Bull, trained by Ardell Sayler, suffered his first defeat when faltering to finish third in the 1 1/16-mile Harry Jeffrey, his seventh career start and first beyond six furlongs.

That proved to be just a bump on the road, however, as Balooga Bull led throughout for a smashing 9 1/4-length score in the 1 1/8-mile Manitoba Derby and then returned less than three weeks later to prevail in identical fashion in the 1 1/16-mile Gold Cup prep.

Paul Nolan retains the mount on Balooga Bull, who will be carrying 119 pounds and getting 5 pounds from his older rivals under the Gold Cup’s weight-for-age conditions.

Pleasant Closing and So Shiny, the only horses to finish ahead of Balooga Bull after running 1-2 in the Harry Jeffrey, ended third and fourth, respectively, in the Manitoba Derby and are the other 3-year-olds in the Gold Cup field.

Cherokee’s Goal, winner of the 2010 Gold Cup, finished second to Balooga Bull in this year’s prep and then ended a 16-race losing streak with a classified allowance score over 7 1/2 furlongs last time out.

Chris Husbands retains the mount on Cherokee’s Goal for conditioner Clayton Gray.

Lake Sawyer, a 4-year-old gelding, is the only older horse in the field with a stakes victory this year, the Wheat City over 1 1/16 miles July 7. Rohan Singh regains the mount for trainer Jared Brown.

Dandy’s Legacy, beaten a nose as the runner-up in the Wheat City and second in the 1 1/16-mile R.J. Speers, will be looking for his first win of the season in the Gold Cup. Trevor Simpson again gets the call on Dandy’s Legacy from trainer Shelley Brown.

The six-furlong Winnipeg Futurity lured a competitive field of 10 including Debutante winner Two Barrel Tootie and Osiris victor Da Hoot.

Two Barrel Tootie, who is 2 for 2, will be facing males for the first time after leading throughout the 5 1/2-furlong Debutante.

Da Hoot rallied to capture the six-furlong Osiris, his second win in three career starts sandwiched around a fifth-place finish in the 5 1/2-furlong Graduation.

Jon Q, the Graduation winner, will be looking to atone for a third-place finish as the odds-on choice in the Osiris.

Osiris runner-up Cmonbabylitemyfire and Debutante runner-up Portales round out the field.