09/11/2005 11:00PM

Classic has shot at a full field

Senor Swinger, a turf specialist, is a probable for the Classic, to be run on Polytrack.

Perhaps the only bad news about the 12th Kentucky Cup Classic is that no marquee horses are scheduled to run Saturday in the $350,000 race at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Otherwise, it's all good.

The Classic field is shaping up as the biggest in race history. Big-name jockeys such as Gary Stevens, Patrick Valenzuela, and Rafael Bejarano will be named to ride in it. There are not many major races elsewhere Saturday in North America to overshadow it. All the feedback on the new Polytrack surface has been positive, and the weather forecast for Saturday is ideal.

Turfway's stakes coordinator, Randy Wehrman, said Monday that more than 12 horses, the race's limit, are still under consideration for the Grade 2 Classic, which anchors a five-race series with purses totaling $825,000. The largest Classic field was assembled in 1996, when Atticus prevailed over nine others.

Probable starters for the 1 1/8-mile race include Shaniko, Senor Swinger, and Royal Assault.

Shaniko, a 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt trained by Todd Pletcher, might be the favorite, even though he has never won a stakes race. In four starts this year, Shaniko has taken his game to a new level, winning twice, including an 11-length romp in an Aug. 8 Saratoga allowance that earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105.

Charter flights transporting Kentucky Cup starters from Southern California and New York were scheduled to arrive Thursday. Shaniko is to be on the New York flight, as is Royal Assault, trained by Nick Zito.

Senor Swinger, normally a turf specialist, already is at Turfway. Trainer Bob Baffert sent the horse to a former assistant of his, John Good, who has stalls at Turfway.

The combined list of remaining probable and possible starters includes Absent Friend, Billy Allen, Cat Shaker, Collateral Damage, Fantasticat, Grand Reward, Habaneros, M B Sea, Mambo Train, One Nice Cat, and either of the Patrick Biancone duo of Ball Four or Salford City.

Valenzuela has the mount for trainer Cole Norman on Absent Friend, winner of the Essex Handicap earlier this year at Oaklawn Park.

Entries for all Kentucky Cup races will be drawn Thursday in the Turfway racing office. The customary media breakfast draw has been scrapped. Ten Turfway races will be combined with four races from Kentucky Downs to make a 14-race Saturday card.

In the other Kentucky Cup races:

Grade 3, $175,000 Turfway Breeders' Cup: Pletcher also would have a main contender in the 1 1/16-mile Turfway BC if he chooses to send Bohemian Lady, a recent six-length winner at Saratoga, on the charter from New York. Other probables include Pleasant Home, Quick Temper, Josh's Madelyn, Tempus Fugit, and either of the Bill Mott duo of Fast Cookie or Miss Fortunate.

Grade 3, $100,000 KC Sprint: Long known as a race that produces quality horses, the six-furlong Sprint could have a few recognizable names again this year, including Going Wild, Lunarpal, Storm Surge, and Vicarage. Valenzuela is scheduled to ride Estate Collection, unbeaten in two starts. About eight or nine 3-year-olds are likely, said Wehrman.

Grade 3, $100,000 KC Juvenile: Stevens has been named to ride Deputy G., whom he rode to victory in the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs in July. Deputy G. worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.40 seconds Saturday at Turfway. About six or seven more 2-year-olds are likely for the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile, including Cab, Catcominatcha, Preachinmandan, Short Circuit, and Stream Cat.

$100,000 KC Juvenile Fillies: Like its brother race, the one-mile Juvenile Fillies also should get a midsized field. Probable starters include Beau Dare, Claremont, Golden Kiss, Morner, and Saoirse Cat.

Kentucky Cup Stakes
Saturday at Turfway Park

Ky. Cup Classic (Gr. 2)$350,0003YO & Up1 1/8 miles
Turfway BC (Gr. 3)175,000F&M1 1/16 miles
Ky. Cup Sprint (Gr. 3)100,0003YO6 furlongs
Ky. Cup Juvenile (Gr. 3)100,0002YO1 1/16 miles
Ky. Cup Juvenile Fillies100,0002YO F1 1/16 miles