09/17/2009 11:00PM

Hold Me Back the Cup's standout

Barbara D. Livingston
Hold Me Back will likely have another breeze at his Belmont Park base before leaving for the Kentucky Cup.

Hold Me Back, winner of the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park in the spring and most recently the runner-up behind Summer Bird in the Aug. 29 Travers Stakes, is easily the marquee name for the Turfway version of the Kentucky Cup next Saturday, Sept. 26, in Florence, Ky.

Hold Me Back, with Julien Leparoux riding for owner WinStar Farm and trainer Bill Mott, will be a heavy favorite in the Grade 2, $200,000 Kentucky Cup Classic at 1 1/8 miles over Polytrack. WinStar's racing manager, Elliott Walden, said Hold Me Back likely would have a final prerace breeze at Belmont Park before being sent to Kentucky. A Giant's Causeway colt, Hold Me Back has had one easy work since the Travers, having gone a half-mile in 50 seconds over the Belmont training track Monday.

At this early juncture, other possible starters for the 16th Classic include Tizway, Wicked Style, Sligovitz, and Your Round. The Classic purse includes $50,000 in bonuses from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

The supporting Kentucky Cup events are the Distaff and Sprint, both Grade 3 races worth $100,000. Two other Kentucky Cup fixtures, the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, were canceled for this year because of financial considerations.

General Quarters back in training

General Quarters, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in April, returned to training earlier this week at Churchill Downs after recuperating from knee surgery at Fallbrook Farm in Versailles, Ky., where he was raised.

"We brought him in Saturday, and he went back to jogging Monday," said owner-trainer Tom McCarthy. "He's put on some weight and looks great. I'm hoping to get him back to the races by the end of the Churchill meet" in late November.

General Quarters had a knee chip removed shortly after finishing ninth in the May 16 Preakness. A gray Sky Mesa colt, he ran 10th in the Kentucky Derby before that.

New Churchill GM seen by fall meet

Churchill has been operating without a general manager since shortly after its spring meet ended July 5, but the intention is to have one in place well before the fall meet starts Nov. 1, track spokesman John Asher said this week.

Jim Gates, the track's former general manager, was reassigned under the Churchill Downs Inc. umbrella during a mid-July personnel restructuring that included the promotion of Kevin Flanery to racetrack president and the firing of vice president Tom Aronson. Gates now works with Steve Sexton, the former Churchill racetrack president, in the corporation's entertainment division that will oversee major non-racing projects and productions.

* Jockey Francisco Torres plans to ask to be restored to good standing before a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission licensing board on Tuesday, according to chief steward John Veitch. Torres, once a longtime regular on this circuit, has not ridden in this state since being banned by Churchill management during the 2000 fall meet. He has been competing recently at Louisiana Downs.

* Leandro Goncalves took the early lead atop the Turfway jockey standings by riding 12 winners during the first seven of 22 programs at the Florence, Ky., track. Goncalves, a 27-year-old native of Brazil, is now employing Steve Elzey as his agent.

* The second week of racing at the Turfway fall meet wraps up Sunday with a $24,000, entry-level allowance serving as the featured ninth of 10 races. Cobbler's Reef, On a Roll, and Floating Heart look like the top contenders among a field of eight entered in the one-mile race. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

* According to a poll of racing fans being conducted on the track website, the best horse ever to race at Turfway was Alysheba, followed by a very tight three-way battle for second among Point Given, Silver Charm, and Winning Colors. In all, 50 horses are ranked.

* Officials with the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill announced this week that the museum will remain closed at least through the end of the year because of the substantial damage sustained in an Aug. 4 flood. Insurance estimates for damage and cleanup costs remain at more than $4 million.

* Churchill made a $50,000 donation to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation during a brief ceremony at the track Wednesday.