11/06/2009 12:00AM

Non-qualifiers for Cup find a spot


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Quarter Horses that fail to qualify for a rich futurity are sometimes provided the opportunity to compete in a consolation race.

Sunday's seventh race at Churchill Downs, a $48,000 first-level allowance for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf, might be considered the Thoroughbred Breeders' Cup consolation equivalent.

Three of the nine entrants - Modern Cowboy, Asphalt, and Scottkeith'skitten - ran eighth, ninth, and 12th behind Interactif in the Oct. 11 Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, a Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf prep. And two others, Fist of Rage and Mint Chip, were pre-entered in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Turf following maiden victories over Polytrack last month at Keeneland.

Fist of Rage and Mint Chip fell far down on the list of alternates released by the Breeders' Cup selection committee, and didn't make the trip to California.

Mint Chip, a gelded son of Johar out of the Theatrical mare Leaning Tower, has the pedigree to excel on grass, though his sole victory came on Polytrack.

"We think a lot of the horse," said trainer Jack Bohannan, assistant to trainer Rusty Arnold. "He looks like a turf horse, has that big foot."

He also runs like one that should like turf racing, showing acceleration to win a Keeneland route Oct. 10 on the Polytrack after being hung wide around the final turn.

His only other start, a sixth-place finish at Arlington on Aug. 23, came on grass, but he was pinched back at the start and raced over yielding ground. Inexperience, along with a troubled trip, appeared his undoing that afternoon.

Calvin Borel rides, replacing James Graham, who is riding at Fair Grounds.

Fist of Rage, trained by Ken McPeek, doesn't have the two-turn experience of the top choice, but finished like a colt that would appreciate added distance in rallying to get up for a nose victory going six furlongs Oct. 14.

A son of Consolidator, he is out of a mare that won 2 of 4 starts on grass.

Of the others, Lost Aptitude merits attention. After running fourth in a turf sprint at Ellis Park, he won a maiden route on soft ground at Kentucky Downs and then was a close third on yielding turf at Keeneland in an allowance Oct. 24. The latter effort earned him an 80 Beyer Speed Figure, the top last-race figure in the race.