09/26/2004 11:00PM

Kentucky Cup boon for Blanc and Yakteen


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As expected, none of the races that Kentucky Downs staged Saturday in its seventh annual Kentucky Cup turf festival produced any serious contenders for the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup, which is not to say the series was not lively and eventful.

Sabiango, cleverly ridden by Brice Blanc, was the star of the afternoon by winning the richest race of the series, the KC Turf. Blanc returned to the winner's circle after his leisurely stroll around the misshapen Franklin, Ky., oval looking like the cat who had eaten the canary, fully aware that a ridiculously easy pace was the key to victory.

"They let me go as easy as I wanted," said a smiling Blanc.

Tim Yakteen also was grinning ear to ear, knowing that his first career win as a trainer had come in the right kind of race: a Grade 3, $200,000 race in which the typical trainer's share is 10 percent of the $124,000 winner's share.

"You have to love that," said Yakteen, who worked for a combined 17 years or so as a stablehand and assistant to Charlie Whittingham and Bob Baffert.

Earlier, Tony Reinstedler was thrilled with the way the normally headstrong Sand Springs relaxed off the pace before going on to dominate the KC Ladies Turf under Mark Guidry. The race was a great start to an adventurous weekend for Reinstedler, who headed out from Kentucky Downs for a brief whitewater rafting trip in West Virginia with a group of friends.

Chuck Simon also had a road trip planned the day after saddling Battle Won to win the KC Turf Dash. Simon drove to Cincinnati to watch the Bengals host the Baltimore Ravens in NFL action. Simon said Monday that he was excited about the immediate future for Battle Won, who fared better in his turf-sprint debut than the Bengals, who were hammered, 23-9.

The KC Mile amounted to a riding clinic by Rafael Bejarano, who set the Kentucky Downs meet record for wins (8) when scoring aboard Missme. Bejarano also won aboard Battle Won.

Kentucky Cup business up

Business was up slightly for the Kentucky Cup grass series, notably the handle from all sources. The six Kentucky Downs races that were interspersed with 10 others from sister track Turfway Park drew total wagers of $1,871,535, up about 3 percent over last year.

"We're happy with those numbers," said track general manager Ryan Driscoll.

The ontrack handle (not counting simulcast imports) was small, as expected, only $92,859 on the six races, up about 5 percent. Attendance is not released.

* Jockey Willie Martinez won four races Sunday at Turfway to further entrench himself in second place in the jockey standings behind Bejarano at the 22-day fall meet. Martinez won the third, fifth, seventh, and eighth races, giving him 19 wins entering Wednesday card.