09/18/2008 11:00PM

Guess who's on top at Turfway


Calvin Borel is having a stellar Turfway Park fall meet, as expected, recording 11 victories with 30 mounts through Thursday. Corey Lanerie, Brian Hernandez Jr., and Miguel Mega are also having impact meets, with Lanerie and Hernandez winning 10 races apiece and Mena nine.

But they were still all chasing Otto Thorwarth, a jockey few thought would top the Turfway Park fall meet standings more than two weeks into the meet, including Thorwarth himself.

"To be honest, I didn't imagine this," he said of the 12 winners he has ridden at Turfway.

Thorwarth, 38, has been based mostly in Ohio over the last couple years, so his results have been out of the ordinary during a meet that is usually dominated by Kentucky riders.

In contrast to Borel, Lanerie, Hernandez, and Mena, who rode at Churchill Downs this spring and summer, Thorwarth rode at River Downs in Cincinnati, where he finished third in the standings behind Perry Ouzts and Julio Felix.

There, Thorwarth picked up some momentum leading into the Turfway Park meet, riding some for Kentucky trainers who would occasionally ship a horse to River Downs to compete.

"Everybody has a cheap horse," said Mary Ellis, his agent since February.

The relationships he established at River Downs, both with Ohio and Kentucky stables, have left Thorwarth with increased opportunities at Turfway, Ellis said. Thorwarth has further capitalized on the fact Turfway hasn't carded many allowance races, contests in which jockeys with Kentucky ties often ride the better quality horses.

Thorwarth attributes his resurgence to his faith in God. When taking a couple years off from riding in 2004 and 2005, during which he worked as a fishing guide in Arkansas, he said "I rededicated my life to Christ." And with the guidance of Hall of Fame rider Pat Day, he decided to return to the saddle, while also playing an active role in racetrack chaplaincy.

Riding is now "more of a calling, instead of a job," he said.

Thorwarth hopes he can build upon his success in the weeks and months ahead. This fall he plans to ride at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, tracks where he has not ridden regularly in almost 15 years.

Stream Cat pointing to Classic

The premier day of racing of the Turfway Park fall meet, Kentucky Cup Day, takes place next Saturday, and fields are starting to take shape.

Stream Cat, third in the Kentucky Cup Classic last year behind Hard Spun and Street Sense, should be among the favorites in the Kentucky Cup Classic, a Grade 2, $350,000 race at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up.

A proven synthetic performer who won the 2005 Kentucky Cup Juvenile, he comes off a pair of strong efforts on turf this year. He won the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap on July 12 and then was a close sixth in the Arlington Million on Aug. 9.

Multiple graded stakes winner Zanjero is also expected for the Classic, Turfway Park stakes coordinator Tia Borgemenke said.

Woodbine-based trainer Reade Baker is expected to bring a couple horses to Turfway: millionaire Bear Now for the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Distaff, and Fatal Bullet - a winner of 5 of 6 starts this year - for the Kentucky Cup Sprint.

Fatal Bullet could face Hatta Fort, Gentlemen James, and Eaton's Gift in the six-furlong Sprint. Eaton's Gift worked Friday, breezing a half-mile in 48.80 seconds at Churchill Downs.

In the two races for 2-year-olds, the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, New Jersey-based trainer Kelly Breen should be well represented by West Side Bernie and Bold Union.

Wide-open allowance feature

Sunday's feature at Turfway is a $24,000 first-level allowance that lacks a standout runner, but is a race loaded with top-to-bottom competitiveness. Twelve fillies and mares, plus an also eligible, are entered for the 6 1/2-furlong race over Polytrack, and a case could be made for many in the field.

Top contenders include Pump Up, a flashy maiden winner at Churchill earlier in the year who was recently third at Ellis Park; Sheltered, coming off a fast maiden triumph over Polytrack at Arlington Park on Aug. 9; and Casino Kay, an accomplished synthetic runner who was claimed for $50,000 on Aug. 1 at Saratoga.