09/27/2007 12:00AM

India makes synthetic debut in Distaff

EmailLOUISVILLE, Ky. - The matchup between Street Sense and Hard Spun in Saturday's Kentucky Cup Classic makes it a dream race for racing fans. But it is the Kentucky Cup Distaff on the undercard at Turfway that may have bettors most excited.

In contrast to the Classic, which drew five horses, the Grade 3, $175,000 Kentucky Cup Distaff attracted a well-matched full field of 12, plus two also-eligibles - leaving horseplayers with opportunities to support quality horses at rewarding prices.

The 3-1 morning-line favorite is India, winner of the Grade 2 Cotillion Handicap and Grade 3 Azeri Breeders' Cup. She is far from a standout, however, because the race will be run on Polytrack and she has never raced over a synthetic surface.

Competition runs deep in the 1 1/16-mile Distaff. Nine of India's 11 rivals in the body of the race are stakes winners.

The opposition is led by Danzon, a Grade 1-placed filly on turf who is trying Polytrack for the first time; Kettleoneup, winner of the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap on April 21; and the consistent Delicate Dynamite, who makes her second start off a layoff after a third-place finish in the Matron Handicap at Evangeline on Sept. 1.

Kettleoneup ran fourth off a short layoff in the Aug. 25 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park, 5 3/4 lengths behind third-place India. She seems likely to improve in the Kentucky Cup Distaff.

A late-runner, she was stuck behind a slow pace in the Molly Pitcher, and flattened out after making a middle move to lose by 12 1/4 lengths to early leader Hystericalady.

Kettleoneup has not been as effective on Polytrack as on dirt. She has a second, a fourth, and a fifth in three starts at Turfway, but trainer Mike Tomlinson said unfavorable circumstances, more so than a dislike for the synthetic surface, contributed to those defeats. All three losses came sprinting.

Calvin Borel rides Kettleoneup, a 4-year-old Victory Gallop filly bred and owned by Tom Crouch.

Sprint: Race suits Piratesonthelake

Piratesonthelake fits the Grade 3, $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint like a glove, which should result in him vying for favoritism with Elite Squadron in the six-furlong race for 3-year-old sprinters.

Piratesonthelake is perfect in two starts over Polytrack, the synthetic surface in place at Turfway Park; he is 4 for 7 racing six furlongs; and he comes off a dead-heat stakes win against older horses in the Arlington Sprint Handicap on Aug. 25.

About the only thing he has not done is race at Turfway Park. All but one of his 11 races have come in Chicago, and the experience he gained over Polytrack came this summer at Arlington.

Trainer James DiVito said he was pleased by how Piratesonthelake performed when he was shipped to Prairie Meadows to race on dirt in the Aug. 4 Prairie Meadows Sprint. Facing older horses, he ran second, beaten three-quarters of a length by Indian Chant, a 4-year-old gelding who has since won the $175,000 Karl Boyes Memorial Stakes at Presque Isle.

Regular rider Diego Sanchez has the mount on Piratesonthelake, who is owned by B Jock Racing.

Elite Squadron won the Tom Ridge Labor Day Stakes at Presque Isle on Sept. 3.

Shore looms as one of Piratesonthelake's main adversaries. A winner over Turfway's Polytrack surface last fall as a 2-year-old, he has performed well in two starts at age 3, running second at Monmouth in a fast second-level allowance Aug. 5 and then winning against the same level of competition there by 4 3/4 lengths Aug. 23. Those two races came after the horse had been gelded, trainer Steve Margolis said.

Juvenile: Few have stakes experience

The chances look slim for the Grade 3, $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile to produce anything of consequence for the Breeders' Cup. Only one of the 10 starters in the 1 1/16-mile race has won more than once, and that's T.J.'s Posse, a colt drawn to the far outside in the Juvenile two starts after capturing a minor Colonial Downs stakes for Virginia-breds.

But you never know, and with several colts owning nice pedigrees or coming from big-time stables, the race might end up looking better in the aftermath. Chitoz, a Forest Wildcat colt trained by Todd Pletcher, is one of those trying to take a major leap after winning a maiden race by 10 1/2 lengths in the Monmouth Park slop.

"We decided that maybe the race at Turfway made sense because it was Polytrack," said Pletcher, adding the colt has "a bit of a turf pedigree."

"We're not necessarily thinking Breeders' Cup," he said. "We're just looking for a spot to run. We think he's an improving 2-year-old, and we'll see what happens."

Others who could play a role in the Juvenile outcome include Shekinah, Pulaski Runner, Poni Colada, Blackberry Road, and Texas Fever.

Juvenile Fillies: Bassinet runners get rematch

The fillies in the $100,000 KC Juvenile Fillies have more stakes experience than their male counterparts in the Juvenile, and with a full field, the one-mile race is an excellent one to open the Kentucky Cup series. It is the sixth of 12 races.

Likely favorites include Kadira, Dreabons Legacy, and Palanka City - the one-two-three finishers in the Bassinet Stakes four weeks ago at River Downs - as well as Sky Mom, who exits the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga, and recent maiden winners Latest Scoop and Carnival City.

Thirteen were entered, but only as many as 12 can start.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee