05/03/2012 10:08AM

Churchill Downs: Woodford Reserve Turf Classic race flow should be ideal for closer Turallure

Tom Keyser
Turallure should get sufficient early pace to set up his closing kick in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Last year’s Woodford Reserve was a 1 1/8-mile turf race that was essentially decided roughly 50 seconds into the race, with victorious Get Stormy setting a slow, uncontested pace for the opening half-mile.

To repeat in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, he will likely have to do so setting or pressing a more demanding pace. Front-runners Little Mike, a scratch from the race last year, and Turbo Compressor are in the lineup, suggesting faster fractions will be established.

Such a scenario would favor the race’s closers, led by 5-2 morning-line favorite Turallure. Well drawn in post 2, he is in position to save ground early and draft behind the pack before launching his customary late rally.

It was a style Turallure used with success last year, winning the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch and Grade 1 Woodbine Mile with furious finishes. And he nearly won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in similar fashion, closing from last with a quarter-mile to go, only to lose by a nose to Court Vision in a head-bobbing photo.

His one start of this season, the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 13, resulted in another second and photo-finish loss, but this time it was Turallure who was outkicked, getting run down late by fellow Woodford Reserve starter Data Link after taking the lead in deep stretch. Data Link hit the wire a neck in front.

Making his first start of the year, “he was a little bit sharper, which I kind of knew he would be, and he got beat by a pretty daggone nice horse,” said Turallure’s trainer, Charlie Lopresti.

As a result of being more prominent than usual, along with inactivity heading into the race, Turallure’s rally wasn’t as effective under regular rider Julien Leparoux.

“He said [Turallure] was getting a little bit tired at the end,” Lopresti said.

With that return effort behind him, a stronger late kick is anticipated in the Woodford.

Also expected to improve in his second start of the season is Brilliant Speed, who ran fifth in the one-mile Appleton at Gulfstream on March 31 in his first race since a third-place finish in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf at 1 1/2 miles.

“Going into the race we knew that he probably need a race, especially not running the distance he would probably prefer,” trainer Tom Albertrani said.

Last year as a 3-year-old, Brilliant Speed won graded races on the turf and Polytrack at the Woodford Reserve’s 1 1/8-mile distance, including the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland.

This marks his second appearance at Churchill Downs, having run seventh in the Kentucky Derby last year.

As usual, the Woodford drew one of the deepest and strongest turf fields of the year, with four Grade 1 winners in the 11-horse lineup – Turallure, Get Stormy, Data Link, and Brilliant Speed – plus five others who have won Grade 2’s or Grade 3’s.

“It’s the real deal,” Get Stormy’s trainer, Tom Bush, said of the Woodford.

Turbo Compressor, a minor stakes winner on dirt, also adds further strength to the group, having apparently found a new home on grass. Racing March 18 in a money allowance at Gulfstream, Turbo Compressor set a modest pace and accelerated away to win a 1 1/16-mile turf race there in 1:39.60, a performance that earned him a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

He is one of two horses trained by Todd Pletcher, with the other being late-running Doubles Partner, who is two for three on the Churchill turf course.

Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1), Post Time: 4:44 ET Saturday

Purse: $500,000; 1 1/8 miles (T)





ML Odds


Little Mike

D. Romans

J. Bravo




C. Lopresti

J. Leparoux



Boxeur des Rues

D. O'Neill

M. Gutierrez



Get Stormy

T. Bush

R. Dominguez



Slim Shadey (GB)

S. Callaghan

D. Flores



Doubles Partner

T. Pletcher

J. Castellano



Data Link

C. McGaughey, III

A. Solis



Turbo Compressor

T. Pletcher

R. Bejarano



Al Khali

W. Mott

C. Nakatani



Brilliant Speed

T. Albertrani

J. Velazquez



Papaw Bodie

M. Maker

J. Rosario