09/18/2001 12:00AM

Ky. Cup fields are small but solid


With Turfway Park officials saying Monday that they have not been informed of any defections from the Kentucky Cup series because of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the eighth annual series appears to be coming up with short but solid fields.

Horses such as Guided Tour, Spain, City Zip, and Ecstatic are expected to take part in the five-race Kentucky Cup, which will be run Saturday at Turfway in Florence, Ky. The races will be telecast on a one-hour show on ESPN2 beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

The richest race in the series, the $400,000 Kentucky Cup Classic, will have Guided Tour as the 119-pound highweight and likely favorite. Guided Tour, based at Churchill Downs with trainer Niall O'Callaghan, is coming off victories in the Stephen Foster and Washington Park handicaps.

His main rival will be Dixie Dot Com, who was scheduled to be flown from California on Tuesday. Dixie Dot Com, most recently second to Skimming in the Pacific Classic, has been assigned 118.

The others expected for the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 Classic are Performing Magic, 115; Fajardo, 114; Da Devil, 113; and Tiltam, 111. Da Devil won the Classic two years ago at 65-1.

In the other Kentucky Cup races, which will be drawn Thursday:

*Spain, who used the Turfway Breeders' Cup last September as her final prep before upsetting the Breeders' Cup Distaff, will be back in the Grade 3 Turfway BC, although not necessarily by design. Spain was supposed to run last weekend in the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont, but when that race was canceled because of the attacks, trainer D. Wayne Lukas decided to keep Spain in Kentucky.

"It's obviously an unfortunate situation that Spain couldn't run in New York last weekend," said Turfway president Bob Elliston. "You don't like to get horses [in that manner], but she is coming back to a place where she's run well before."

At least six fillies and mares are probable for the 1 1/16-mile Turfway BC. The others are Asher, Trip, Royal Fair, The Happy Hopper, and Precious Feather.

*City Zip could be the heaviest favorite in the series when he tackles a short field of 3-year-olds in the $150,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint, in which an inordinate number of top sprinters have participated since the race's 1994 inception. City Zip was expected to arrive Thursday from New York, trainer Linda Rice said Monday from the yearling sales at Keeneland. Only three other horses have been confirmed to oppose City Zip in the six-furlong, Grade 2 Sprint: Accelerant, Snow Ridge, and Wild Hits.

*Ecstatic, unbeaten in two starts for The Thoroughbred Corp. and Bob Baffert, figures as the heavy favorite in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile. Last year, the owner and trainer won the Grade 3 race with Point Given.

Other 2-year-olds being pointed to the 1 1/16-mile race include Truman's Raider and Gold Dollar, both trained by Lukas; and Arctic Sand, Watch Me Fire, Labamta Babe, and Shining Career.

*The $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies appears to be the most competitive race of the series. Prospects for the one-mile race are Dixie Witch, Emeraldforajudge, Que Bonita, Raise a Roar, Skorch, and Splendid Victory.

Kentucky Cup turf races Sunday

In a break from traditional scheduling, the $700,000 Kentucky Cup turf series also will be run this weekend. The four turf races will be run Sunday at Kentucky Downs, the all-grass facility located near the south-central Kentucky town of Franklin.