09/07/2011 2:27PM

Kentucky Downs: Rahystrada to take on Rezif in Kentucky Cup Turf

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Rahystrada (above) will face defending Kentucky Cup Turf winner Rezif on Saturday.

Rahystrada, an earner of more than $850,000, and Rezif, the defending champion, were among the 10 older horses entered Wednesday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Kentucky Cup Turf, which will help to open the 2011 Kentucky Downs meet Saturday in Franklin, Ky.

Rahystrada, most recently fifth in the Arlington Million, was assigned post 6, while Rezif will start from the far outside post in the 1 1/2-mile KC Turf.

Rules of Honor will represent breeder-owner Ken Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker in the KC Turf, although Maker said early Wednesday that he also likely would enter Dean’s Kitten, who might well have been favored off a third-place finish in the Aug. 13 Million. Instead, he said he will settle on another race in the near future for Dean’s Kitten.

Kentucky Downs will run its four-day meet the next two Saturdays and Mondays (Sept. 10, 12, 17, and 19). First post daily is 12:40 p.m. Central. Seven races will be carded Saturdays and eight on Mondays.

Kentucky Downs no longer will meld its Saturday programs with sister track Turfway Park, because Turfway is mostly conducting evening programs (5:30 post) at its fall meet for the first time.

The KC Turf is carded as the sixth opening-day race on a Kentucky Downs card that also includes the $50,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies (race 5), which drew 11 fillies and mares at a mile. The Saturday forecast calls for dry conditions and a high temperature of 77.

The Turfway version of the Kentucky Cup will be renewed Sept. 24, after the series went dormant in 2010. The five-race, $600,000 series will be run over Polytrack at the Florence, Ky., track during the lone daytime Saturday card of a 16-day meet that runs through Oct. 2.

Mud Creek gives Radcliffe a lift

Summer was much better to trainer Bobby Radcliffe than winter. Radcliffe, 49, suffered a badly fractured right leg while exercising one of his horses in a morning training accident Oct. 30 at Churchill Downs. Radcliffe took off for about four months, giving over care of his small public stable to David Vance while taking time to heal from the injury, which occurred when his mount fell on him and then stepped on his leg when getting up.

A closing-day victory in a $10,000 claiming route at Ellis Park by Mud Creek bookended a productive meet for Radcliffe, who said he has two plates and about 13 screws in his lower leg. Mud Creek, a 6-year-old gray mare owned by John Berry and Steve Turner, also won July 3, the second day of the Ellis meet.

“I can’t say enough good things about the mare,” said Radcliffe, a longtime assistant to the late Danny Hutt.

Radcliffe, a Louisville native, said he hopes to run Mud Creek on closing day at Kentucky Downs.

Jockeys have race moved from turf

It may seem rather curious that the final race of the 31-day Ellis meet was taken off the turf at the last minute – considering it will be another 10 months before the turf will be needed again – but the stewards said jockeys informed them they did not want to ride, citing unsafe conditions, leading to the ninth race Monday being run on the main track.

Indeed, the turf course at Ellis took a beating this summer. A Midwest drought was exacerbated by the fact the track’s irrigation system was not working properly for much of the meet, and there were at least two fatal breakdowns in turf races during the final six days of racing.

All three prior turf races Monday, including the $50,000 Cliff Guilliams Memorial, were run on the turf before the switch was announced prior to the last race.

• Churchill is introducing a new fundraiser called “Poker at Ponies,” a road rally that will originate at the track’s Gate 10 on the morning of Sept. 24. Proceeds will benefit the Churchill Downs Inc. Foundation and the Kentucky Equine Humane Center for unwanted horses. More information is available at KyEHC.org.

• The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Downs will raffle off four $1,000 college scholarship during the Sept. 17 program. Registration for eligible students is free.