09/24/2011 7:10PM

Kentucky Cup: Future Prospect provides heartwarming finish in WinStar at Turfway

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Patrick Lang Photography
Future Prospect, under Edgar Prado, wins the Grade 2 WinStar Kentucky Cup, giving 76-year-old owner-trainer D.H. Skaggs his first graded stakes victory.

FLORENCE, Ky. – D.H. Skaggs was the young’n in the exacta Saturday in the Grade 2, $170,000 WinStar Kentucky Cup. The 76-year-old owner-trainer sent out Future Prospect to beat General Quarters – owned and trained by 78-year-old Tom McCarthy – in the 17th running of the Turfway Park showcase, giving Skaggs the first graded stakes triumph of a 42-year training career.

Skaggs was near tears in the wild aftermath of the 1 1/16-mile WinStar. “This old horse has been really good to me,” he said.

Future Prospect, always prominent with Edgar Prado aboard, took the lead from Strike Impact down the backstretch, then stayed ahead of a sustained run from General Quarters throughout the final quarter-mile to prevail by three-quarters of a length. A 7-year-old New York-bred gelding, Future Prospect finished in 1:44.71 over Polytrack and returned $38.40 to win as the longest shot in a field of eight older horses.

Demarcation, the second longest shot at 17-1, rallied mildly to take third, another six lengths back. He was followed by Workin for Hops, the 5-2 second choice, and Baryshnikov, the 2-1 favorite. Rounding out the order were Strike Impact, Havelock, and Shediak.

The septuagenarian exacta (6-8) returned $406.40 for $2.

Future Prospect, by Freud, was a standout in the statebred ranks in his younger days before suffering an injury in the fall of 2009 in the Empire Classic. It took Skaggs nearly 17 months  to get him back to action, and the gelding had gradually come back into good form, having won three straight allowance races entering the WinStar.

Future Prospect, now a winner in 14 of 29 career starts, earned $90,210, lifting his career bankroll just past $475,000.

Skaggs, based in Louisville throughout his low-profile career, was cheered on by a host of friends and family members in a boisterous winner’s circle. “It’s a pretty great feeling,” he said.

McCarthy said he was happy with the way General Quarters, a 10-1 shot ridden by Jamie Theriot, rebounded off two subpar efforts. “I wish it had been 1 1/8 miles because he wants it just a bit longer,” he said. “I’m happy, though. The horse likes when the weather turns cool like this.”

While Skaggs made for a heartwarming story, the day overall belonged to trainer Mike Maker, who sent out three winners in the five-race Kentucky Cup series and won two earlier events on a 12-race program. The five wins were announced late in the card as a Turfway record.

Admission was free on a cloudy afternoon when it appeared that perhaps 7,000 fans turned out.