06/20/2009 12:00AM

One from West looks best in Turf Cup

Benoit & Associates
Battle of Hastings will be favored in the Colonial Turf Cup off his recent form and good works.

All was not completely lost during the trip Jeff Mullins made to Churchill Downs this spring. Yes, Mullins was bitterly disappointed when morning-line favorite I Want Revenge was scratched on the morning of the May 2 Kentucky Derby because of injury, but the trainer returned to Southern California with a small measure of consolation when Battle of Hastings ran a big second in the Grade 3 American Turf at Churchill that same weekend.

Seven weeks later, Mullins has sent Battle of Hastings cross-country to Virginia for the Grade 2, $500,000 Colonial Cup at Colonial Downs, and this time the gelding turf specialist is in no secondary role. In a field of 10 3-year-olds, Battle of Hastings looks like the horse to beat in the 1 3/16-mile race, not only because of his sharp last race at Churchill, but also following a string of superb subsequent workouts back home. Battle of Hastings, a British-bred gelding owned by Mike House, has recorded five works since the May 1 American Turf, the last four over the turf at Hollywood Park.


Tyler Baze has the mount on Battle of Hastings, who was assigned post 8.

Other contenders in the fifth running of the Colonial Cup include New York invaders Rescue Squad, Straight Story, and Lime Rickey, as well as two other Californians, Mark S the Cooler and Winning Vow.

The Colonial Cup is the first leg in the Grand Slam of Grass, a bonus series offered annually since 2004 by Jacobs Investments, which owns and operates Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va. Three races follow: the $750,000 Virginia Derby on July 18 at Colonial, the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 8 at Arlington Park, and the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita.

Jacobs is advertising the final payoff for a sweep to be "well over $5 million" by combining winner's purses and a bonus. No horse has ever come close to a sweep.

The Colonial Cup is carded as the 11th of 12 races on a card that begins at 12:55 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Colonial Cup is 6:16. Three other stakes, including the Grade 3 All Along for fillies and mares, also are on tap.

The 2008 Colonial Cup was won by Sailor's Cap, the Team Valor International standout who won the Poker Stakes last weekend at Belmont Park, only to die suddenly in his stall early Wednesday.

:: WARRIOR: (DRF Plus)