09/22/2008 12:00AM

Polytrack's role is major in Kentucky Cup Classic


The Polytrack surface at Turfway Park should serve as an interesting stage Saturday when dirt specialists Zanjero and Honest Man face turf pro Stream Cat in the anchor event of the 15th annual Kentucky Cup series, the $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic.

Zanjero, owned by the Winchell Thoroughbreds and trained by Steve Asmussen, has earned the vast majority of his $1.4-million bankroll on dirt, while Honest Man, a romping winner of the Iselin Handicap last out at Monmouth Park, has raced exclusively on dirt. Conversely, Stream Cat has been kept primarily on turf or synthetics, with the bulk of his $628,610 having been earned on those surfaces.

Racing officials at Turfway in Florence, Ky., are counting on at least six 3-year-olds and up, with a handful more possible, for the Grade 2 KC Classic, one of five Kentucky Cup events set for Saturday. The other known prospects are Yate's Black Cat, Bullsbay, and Extreme Supreme, while the list of possibles includes Stream of Gold, Ravel, and Barcola.

The Kentucky Cup, which comes four weeks prior to the Oct. 24-25 Breeders' Cup championships at Santa Anita, has a history of producing Breeders' Cup contenders, and Turfway officials have been hoping for one of its best Kentucky Cups ever - especially in light of the fact that Santa Anita also now uses a synthetic surface as its primary track. But with Saturday also being the day for major preps at Belmont Park and Santa Anita, it remains to be seen how the annual fall showcase at Turfway will stack up.

Entries for all five Kentucky Cup events will be drawn Wednesday at the track. In those other races:

* Maren's Meadow will return to the scene of one of her key career victories following an up-and-down summer as one of the favorites in the $100,000 KC Distaff, a Grade 3 race at 1 1/16 miles. Maren's Meadow, trained by Larry Jones, won the Grade 3 Bourbonette Stakes here in March, then sandwiched fourth-place finishes in two stakes around a victory in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks in her three subsequent races.

Bear Now, the millionaire Tiznow filly based in Canada with trainer Reade Baker, will be the obvious one to beat in the Distaff, which figures to get at least eight fillies and mares.

* Probably the deepest race of the day will be the $100,000 KC Sprint, a six-furlong race that usually produces a starter or two for the BC Sprint. A full gate of 12 3-year-olds appears possible, as Turfway stakes coordinator Tia Borgemenke was listing 10 probable starters as of Monday morning. Five of those prospects made their last start at the Saratoga meet, including Hatta For, and Salute the Sarge.

* An unproven group of 2-year-olds will meet in the $100,000 KC Juvenile, a Grade 3 race at 1 1/16 miles. About eight are expected, with the greatest accomplishment from the prospective field thus far being a victory by Proud Jefe in a minor stakes at Canterbury Park in July.

* The filly counterpart to the Juvenile, and the only ungraded race in the series, is the $100,000 KC Juvenile Fillies, a one-mile race shaping up with a field of eight. Juliet's Spirit, an Asmussen-trained filly undefeated in three starts, and Bold Union, the beaten favorite in the Grade 2 Adirondack last month at Saratoga, appear to stand out.