09/25/2009 12:00AM

Bear Now looking to finish on top

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Barbara D. Livingston
Bear Now, winless in five starts this year, will make her final career start in Saturday's Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Distaff at Turfway Park.

FLORENCE, Ky. - Bear Now hardly could have been more dominant in the Kentucky Cup Distaff last year, winning off by four lengths.

Six races, one year, and one owner change later, the speedy mare is still looking for her next victory, one that trainer Al Stall Jr. hopes will come Saturday when Bear Now makes the final start of her distinguished career as the favorite in the 24th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Distaff.

"She's been the same horse, consistent on a daily basis, as classy and sound as can be," said Stall, who assumed the training of Bear Now after she was purchased for $950,000 last November at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Sales by the Town and Country Farm of Louise and Kiki Courtelis. "For whatever reason, she hasn't won for us, although we'd love to go out a winner Saturday."

Bear Now, with Robby Albarado to ride, will start from post 6 in a field of 10 fillies and mares entered in the 1 1/16-mile Distaff. The 5-year-old daughter of Tiznow is scheduled to be bred to Unbridled's Song next year.

Stall said he has been somewhat surprised Bear Now hasn't yet won under his care, although he noted her efforts in several races have been solid, most notably a third-place finish behind Informed Decision and Ventura in the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland in April.

"Obviously, she likes the Polytrack," he said. "Her Keeneland race came against probably the two best fillies in the country at that game. I'm looking for her to run very well Saturday."

The top challengers to Bear Now appear to be Indescribable, an improbable winner of the Cardinal Handicap last fall on the Churchill Downs turf; Whirlie Bertie, a gate-to-wire winner of the Gardenia Stakes at Ellis Park last out; and Unforgotten, runner-up to Bear Now in this race last year.

The Distaff, the 10th of 16 races on the melded Saturday card with Kentucky Downs, formerly was known as the Turfway Breeders' Cup. Its most memorable renewals came in 1989, when Winning Colors prevailed, and in 1995, when Mariah's Storm upset Serena's Song.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (race 12) has been a perennial overachiever by producing a steady supply of starters for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. While it is questionable that any of the 3-year-olds will go on the Nov. 7 BC Sprint at Santa Anita, the race is terrific on its own merits.

Guam Typhoon, making his synthetics debut, is a very tepid morning-line favorite at 3-1, although most of his 10 opponents appear capable of what would be a minor upset. Indeed, the six-furlong sprint comprises extraordinary depth, with El Brujo, Big Push, Turfiste, and Brass Bay all stepping forth with solid credentials.

Because of its wide-open nature, longshots might rate a closer look than normal in this 16th running of the Sprint. One is Hamazing Destiny, whose Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, is easily the leading trainer in Kentucky Cup history with 14 wins. Hamazing Destiny most recently was second in a highly competitive first-level allowance sprint at Saratoga.

His Greatness ships in off a sharp win over the Polytrack surface at Arlington Park and also could pose a threat at a long price.

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