09/12/2012 2:33PM

Kentucky Downs: Four-stakes card should keep meet rolling

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Four-Footed Fotos
Rahystrada wins the Arlington Handicap in July.

The momentum of a solid meet at Kentucky Downs figures to be sustained Saturday when four stakes, led by the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup, anchor a 10-race card.

Rahystrada, the defending champion in the $200,000 Turf Cup, will be the favorite in a field of eight older horses in the 1 1/2-mile showcase event at the turf-only track in south-central Kentucky. His main opposition could come from Chicago shipper Ioya Bigtime, whose last two races at his home track, Arlington Park, have been terrific.

“He’s run a couple of really game races,” trainer Chris Block said this week. “We picked this spot because it’s a mile and a half. We’re shipping him down Friday morning. Hopefully he’ll handle that course.”

Ioya Bigtime, bred and owned by Block and his family, won the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes in July before running second to the well-regarded Jakkalberry in the inaugural American St. Leger on the Aug. 18 Arlington Million undercard. Jeffrey Sanchez, who has ridden the 5-year-old horse in his last four starts, retains the mount.

Ioya Bigtime and Rahystrada will start alongside each other in posts 2 and 3, respectively, sharing high weight of 125 pounds and spotting two to four pounds to the others.

The Turf Cup is carded as the ninth race. The preceding stakes, all worth $75,000, are the new Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon (race 3) at 1 5/16 miles and the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies (race 7) and Kentucky Downs Juvenile (race 8), both at seven furlongs. HRTV provides coverage.

The six-day Kentucky Downs meet began last Saturday with all-sources handle of more than $1.36 million, an increase of more than 75 percent over the corresponding date last year. A 12-percent all-sources increase also was reported for the following Monday card. The meet runs through Wednesday.

The president of Kentucky Downs, Corey Johnsen, said this week that the track has applied for eight racing dates next year, with three to be run in late March and the other five during its traditional September slot.