07/07/2009 11:00PM

High hopes for Governor's Cup


Penn National Race Course is hopeful that the record purse of $200,000 for the Pennsylvania Governor s Cup on Aug. 1 will attract some prospects for this fall s Breeders Cup Turf Sprint.

The purse has been doubled for this year s five-furlong race, making it one of the richest turf sprints in North America. Aside from the Breeders Cup, only the $250,000 Turf Monster at Philadelphia Park and the $500,000 Nearctic at Woodbine are worth more than the Governor s Cup.

The Governor s Cup is perfectly positioned on the calendar to be a key race for horses looking at the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint as their final objective, said racing secretary Paul Jenkins. He pointed out that last year s Governor s Cup winner, the multiple graded stakes winner Heros Reward, went on to finish fifth, beaten two lengths, in the inaugural Breeders Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

One expected starter for the Governor s Cup is Euroears, who is 6 for 7 in his career. Euroears is trained by Bret Calhoun.

The 37th running of the Governor s Cup will highlight Penn National s richest weekend of racing ever. Seven stakes, worth a collective $675,000, will be contested on July 31 and Aug.?1, with overall purses approaching $1 million over the two nights.

The Governor s Cup will be supported by three $75,000 stakes the Capital City at one mile on turf for 3-year-olds, the East Hanover Township at six furlongs for 3-year-olds, and the Turf Starlet at five furlongs on turf for 2-year-old fillies. The 11-race card will have a special first race post time of 5:45 p.m. Eastern.

The July 31 stakes program will feature the $100,000 Jennie Wade for older fillies and mares going five furlongs on the turf. That program will also include the $75,000 Red Carpet for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass and the $75,000 Femme Fatale for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs

* Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard and two-time national riding champion Jody Petty each won a race to help inaugurate steeplechase racing at Penn National last weekend.

Petty, who rode McDynamo to three Breeders Cup Steeplechase victories, scored a $39.80 upset aboard the 4-year-old maiden You the Man in Penn National s first-ever steeplechase on Friday night. One race later, Sheppard sent out the 6-year-old gelding Sermon of Love ($8.80), the lukewarm favorite in a field of 10 first-level optional $25,000 claimers, to score by 1 3/4 lengths under Danielle Hodsdon. Both races were contested at 2 1/16 miles over yielding turf.