09/22/2004 12:00AM

McPeek hopes for same finish, different result

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Patrick Lang/Lang Photography
Rafael Bejarano won 6 on Tuesday.

The hurtful memory still lingers. Trainer Ken McPeek was waylaid by a stewards' call that took victory away from Art Variety in last year's $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf. Since then, McPeel has been waiting for an opportunity for the horse to set things right.

That time may come Saturday, when McPeek and Art Variety will return to rural Franklin, Ky., for the seventh running of the Grade 3 KC Turf. Art Variety was part of a bang-bang photo finish that also involved Rochester and Quest Star, and all three are part of an eight-horse field that was entered Wednesday in the signature race of the annual September meet at Kentucky Downs.

McPeek said he believes Art Variety has a particular fondness for the European-style turf course at Kentucky Downs.

"It suits his style, which I think he proved last year," said McPeek. "I'd love to see him win again, although obviously without what followed after the race."

Rafael Bejarano was aboard Art Variety last year and will ride him again Saturday.

Rochester, trained by Jonathan Sheppard, is a two-time defending champion in the KC Turf, having won outright in 2002 before being awarded victory by disqualification last year. Pat Day is scheduled to ride Rochester, who was assigned post 6 in the 1 1/2-mile race.

From the rail, the KC Turf field is Gorylla, Gottabeachboy, Sharbayan, Art Variety, Sabiango, Rochester, Dontbotherknocking, and Quest Star.

The Kentucky Cup is part of a six-race Kentucky Downs program that will be interspersed with 10 races from sister track Turfway Park, forming a marathon 16-race card. First post will be 12:10 p.m. Central, with the Kentucky Cup races going as the sixth, ninth, 12th, and 14th.

In the earlier Cup races, all worth $100,000:

* Ten fillies and mares, representing the largest field of the series, will contest the KC Ladies Turf. Sand Springs, who has earned more than $600,000 while battling classy company for most of her 18-race career, appears to be the filly to beat.

May Gator, winner of the Dade Turf Classic in her latest start, and Omeya, with Day riding for Sheppard, are other logical contenders in the one-mile race. The other starters are Regale, Tempus Fugit, Beautiful Bets, Halory Leigh, Drew Away, Wildwood Royal, and Academic Angel.

* Gretchen's Star, a consistent 9-year-old gelding, is one of the top contenders in a well-matched renewal of the KC Mile, which drew six older horses.

Stormy Impact, Missme, and Banned in Boston also fit well in a cast rounded out by Big Will and King of Speed.

* A couple of turf-sprint specialists, Abderian and Mighty Beau, are among seven horses entered in the KC Turf Dash at six furlongs. Last year, Abderian was the narrowest of losers in the Turf Dash, finishing second.

The others entered are Top Commander, Founding Chairman, Battle Won, Draw Fire, and a maiden, Bano's Adil.

Bejarano wins record six on card

Rafael Bejarano set a track record Tuesday at Kentucky Downs by riding six winners on an eight-race card.

The 22-year-old Bejarano, easily the leading jockey in North America in wins this year, rode the entire card Tuesday at Kentucky Downs. Bejarano's only losing mounts came with a third-place finish in the second race and a runner-up finish in the last race.

Track records are somewhat sketchy at Kentucky Downs, said general manager Ryan Driscoll, "but we know for sure that when he won his fifth he had the record, and when he won the sixth, that was a no-brainer."

Bejarano already has been the leading rider this year at meets at Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, and Ellis Park. Through Tuesday, he had won 364 races this year, with mount earnings of more than $8.1 million.