09/28/2009 11:00PM

Hamazing Destiny ready for his best

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Benoit & Associates
Queen Ofthe Catsle shipped from California for the Turf Amazon at Philadelphia Park.

NEW YORK - Things get very serious next week with five Grade 1 stakes races at Belmont Park and the opening weekend of action at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet which will host the Breeders' Cup. But in the meantime, the Kentucky Cup at Turfway Park rates top billing on this Saturday, even if it is a pared-down version of the Kentucky Cup we're more familiar with.

Gone are the two Kentucky Cup races for juveniles, and the purse of the main event was cut by $150,000. But the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic, as a Grade 2 event, shares top billing as the highest graded stakes in the nation Saturday along with the $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park. And in support of the Kentucky Cup Classic Saturday on the Turfway undercard are a pair of Grade 3, $100,000 stakes, the Kentucky Cup Distaff and Kentucky Cup Sprint.

Other lucrative stakes races on Saturday's schedule include the $250,000 Selene at Woodbine, a pair of $200,000 NATC Futurity Stakes events at Monmouth Park, the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap at Philadelphia Park, and the $200,000 Maryland Million Classic at Laurel.

Kentucky Cup Sprint

There are a lot of ways the betting public could go in this race, but one colt who is certain to take a good bit of action here is Guam Typhoon, who picked up minor awards in overnight stakes at Saratoga in his last two starts. His effort two starts back in the Curlin Stakes is one that bettors will surely take note of, as he was beaten only two lengths by the winner, Blame, who was easily second-best in last week's Super Derby, and fell just a little more than a length short for second to Gone Astray, who came back to dominate the Pennsylvania Derby.

But while I usually have a soft spot for horses who turn back to a sprint from a middle distance, as Guam Typhoon is doing Saturday, I prefer them when they turn back to sprints longer than this six-furlong affair. And while Guam Typhoon did win his last three starts sprinting, the most recent at this distance, I fear that after two straight outings going 1 1/8 miles around two turns, his speed might be dulled a bit, and that he could find himself too far off the early pace.

I like the other colt in here coming out of a Saratoga race, that being Hamazing Destiny. Hamazing Destiny impressed going turf to dirt last time out, pressing a very fast pace from the outside and never giving in, finishing a narrowly beaten second. And while it is true that Mesa Sunrise set that fast pace and managed to hold off Hamazing Destiny, Hamazing Destiny might have still been a bit short in just his second start back off a five-month absence, and Mesa Sunrise isn't entered here, so . . .

Now, Hamazing Destiny should be set for a top effort third start off a layoff, and might be better prepared to rate just a bit more off the early pace, just as he did in his most impressive romp in his career debut last February.

Pomona Derby

Predictably, there is a little bit of everything in this race. There is Acclamation, who will try dirt for the first time off a close third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby at 59-1. There is All Saint, who will attempt to stretch out after winning the Jim Kostoff Stakes over the track 15 days ago. And there is Action in May, who is also coming into this off a win over the track, although that was in a maiden claimer.

I like Del Conte, one of two in here who were claimed in their last start. Del Conte finished only two noses behind champion Midshipman in the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes one year ago, so he has the requisite back class for one who just changed hands via the claim box. And, Del Conte will be making his first start for trainer Michael Machowsky, who, even if it is from a small sample, has big numbers first start off the claim.

But the thing that's a bit intriguing about Del Conte is that even though he made all four of his starts this year on turf, and ran reasonably well picking up minor shares in his last three, there really isn't much turf breeding in his immediate family. He's by Point Given, who never ran on the turf, from Dirty Diana, who lost her only turf start and was a stakes winner on dirt. So, Del Conte might be getting a chance here to do what he has always wanted to do, which is run on dirt.

Turf Amazon Handicap

The presence of Dubai Majesty, Canadian Ballet, Starfish Bay, and Juliet's Spirit in this five-furlong turf dash makes for the prospect of a hot and contested pace. This should benefit the quality stretch-runners Smart and Fancy and Queen Ofthe Catsle, and I'm going with Queen Ofthe Catsle in the expectation that she'll be the bigger price.

The mere fact that Queen Ofthe Catsle is coming all the way from California for this signals strong barn confidence, for which there is good reason. Queen Ofthe Catsle returned to top form with a narrow decision in an overnight stakes at Del Mar most recently. And when she reaches top form, she tends to stay there for a while, as evidenced by her four-race win streak last year, three of which came in stakes events.