05/30/2013 12:36PM

Penn National: Pennsylvania Governor's Cup draws past winners Kyma, Ben's Cat, Chamberlain Bridge

Tom Keyser
Ben's Cat won the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup at Penn National in 2011 and will try to win the race again Saturday.

The last three winners of the race – Kyma, Ben’s Cat, and Chamberlain Bridge – head a lineup of 11 talented turf sprinters in the 41st running of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap, Penn National’s oldest stakes.

The $150,000 Governor’s Cup, scheduled for five furlongs on grass, goes Saturday as race 2 on a 10-race card that features seven stakes, including the inaugural running of the $500,000 Penn Mile for 3-year-olds.

Kyma is the least distinguished of the trio of Governor’s Cup winners in Saturday’s field, but he does own a 6-for-9 lifetime record. As a 4-year-old last season, Kyma rallied from ninth to get up by a neck at 35-1 and remain perfect in three starts on Penn National’s turf course. He raced just once more in 2012, then returned from eight months on the sidelines to win the first start of his 5-year-old campaign 2 1/2 weeks ago on the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs.

From a small sampling, trainer Brandon Kulp is 3 for 6 with horses switching from synthetic to turf, including a win off a 259-day layoff by Kyma last June.

[PENN MILE: Get PPs, watch Saturday's full card live]

The 9-year-old Chamberlain Bridge, a winner of 19 races and $1.94 million, will take his third crack at the Governor’s Cup after finishing third in 2009 and winning by a half-length in 2010. Although he is just 1 for 11 over the past two seasons, Chamberlain Bridge remains highly competitive. He makes the second start of his form cycle after missing by a nose in the Grade 3 Turf Sprint on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Ben’s Cat is the hot horse, having won three consecutive stakes over the past two seasons. He won the 2011 Governor’s Cup by a neck but gave way in deep stretch to finish fourth as the 6-5 favorite last year. The 7-year-old Ben’s Cat, trained by King Leatherbury, returns two weeks after coming from off the pace to win the Turf Sprint at Pimlico on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard.

“The first race he won this year at Pimlico was an easy race for him, so it was a good race to start the year off with,” Leatherbury said. “His race two weeks ago will set him for a good effort.”

The field also includes the Todd Pletcher-trained Bridgetown, who finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Ben’s Cat two weeks ago at Pimlico while making his first start since early November, and Icon Ike, a two-time turf-sprint stakes winner this year.

Last year, Bridgetown beat Chamberlain Bridge in the Grade 3 Woodford at Keeneland but was two lengths behind Ben’s Cat as the runner-up in the Parx Dash.

“The Pimlico Turf Sprint was his first race in a while, and he is coming into this race on short rest, but we were playing catch-up going into the last race,” Pletcher said of Bridgetown. “We have a ton of respect for Ben’s Cat. Maybe us having a long rest prior to the Pimlico race will be in our favor.”

Elsewhere on the undercard:

◗ With 15 horses entered, the five-furlong Penn Dash was split into two divisions, each worth $50,000. Candyman E, who has raced just four times since winning the Frank De Francis Memorial Dash in October 2011, may hold a class advantage among eight horses in the first division, race 6. He comes out of a third-place finish on Polytrack in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Commonwealth.

The 7-year-old Manito, whose four-race winning streak ended when he set the pace and tired in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap on the Preakness undercard, and Fearsome, the winner of the 4 1/2-furlong Charles Town Dash last time out, look like the prime contenders in the second division, race 8.

◗ Ann’s Smart Dancer won for the first time in 18 starts over the past two seasons last time out, and she will try to duplicate that performance against six other Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares in the $60,000 Silver Train HBPA at six furlongs (race 1).

◗ The 3-year-old Officer Alex, the winner of the Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park, cuts back in distance from the one-mile Derby Trial and faces older horses for the first time in the $60,000 E Dubai HBPA at six furlongs (race 7). Among those Officer Alex will challenge in the race for Pennsylvania-breds are the 7-year-old Sloane Ranger, a close third behind Rule and Flat Out in last summer’s Grade 2 Monmouth Cup, and Tujoes, the winner of the seven-furlong Lyman Handicap last time out.