10/13/2011 2:04PM

Keeneland: Anniversary Stakes a tough BC prep


LEXINGTON, Ky. – It will be a once-in-a-lifetime race – literally. Although the $125,000 Keeneland 75th Anniversary Stakes might eventually be run every fall meet under a different name, its unveiling here Saturday carries the one-time purpose of celebrating the founding of this pastoral track on Oct. 15, 1936, while also getting some serious prep work done toward the 2011 Breeders’ Cup.

Keeneland’s racing secretary, Ben Huffman, said track officials “surely will take a look at” bringing back the race as an annual prep for the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, the 15th and newest BC event. For this inaugural, a solid field of nine 2-year-olds will be clashing at six furlongs over Polytrack, with Norm’s Passion and Voodoo Daddy likely to take the most play.

Norm’s Passion is in from Southern California, where he led gate to wire in easily winning a Sept. 4 maiden race on the Del Mar Polytrack in his second career start. Although this Artie Schiller colt will face a number of other speedy horses Saturday, his trainer, Jeff Bonde, believes he can rate early if needed.

“He’s a very well-minded horse,” said Bonde. “So I don’t think anything like that should be an issue. If he runs like we hope he will, we’ll just move him over to Churchill Downs and get him ready for the Breeders’ Cup there.”

Garrett Gomez has the mount on Norm’s Passion, who was assigned post 4 in the eighth of 10 Saturday races.

Voodoo Daddy, trained by Steve Asmussen, was impressive in taking his Aug. 17 career debut by 3 1/2 lengths at Saratoga before failing to overcome a stumbling start and fading to finish eighth of 10 in his lone subsequent try, the Grade 3 Sapling at Monmouth Park. Julien Leparoux, the leading rider so far here this fall, will be back aboard the City Zip colt once again when leaving from post 8.

Other notables in the 75th Anniversary field include Canigotoo, who earned an eye-popping 96 Beyer Speed Figure in his first start in June; Luke of York, a gritty maiden winner at Arlington for trainer Jimmy DiVito, who has enjoyed an outstanding year so far with his 2-year-olds; and Larry Zip, whose late-running style suggests he could benefit if the early leaders go too quick.

Rounding out the lineup are D’Wildcat Road, Italo, Sheriff Silverstar, and Sarge Hudson.