09/21/2005 12:00AM

Rochester takes fourth crack at Turf


Eight older horses, including two-time race winner Rochester, have been entered to square off Saturday in the $200,000 , the annual showcase race at Kentucky Downs.

The KC Turf, a Grade 3 race at 1 1/2 miles, shapes up as a competitive race with no apparent standout. Habaneros and Pellegrino, both in from Southern California, and the locally based Silverfoot all could vie for favoritism.

Three six-figure races, ending with the KC Turf, comprise what has become a scaled-down version of the Kentucky Cup grass series at Kentucky Downs, the turf-only course located just outside the south-central Kentucky town of Franklin. At its height, the series consisted of four races totaling $700,000 before purses for some of the races were reduced and the Kentucky Cup Mile was eliminated.

The remainder of the Turf field consists of Scooter Roach, Rayon, Apple o' Dale, and Gallo Del Bar.

In the two other Kentucky Cup races, eight older horses were entered in the $100,000 KC Turf Dash, while 14 fillies and mares, two more than will be allowed to start, were entered in the $100,000 KC Ladies Turf.

The favorite for the six-furlong Dash could be Tacirring, a 6-year-old gelding who has won four races in a row, and six of his last seven, for trainer Scott Lake.

The one-mile Ladies appears to be extremely well matched. Spring Season, trained by Jonathan Sheppard, figures as one of the favorites, although there are more than a few others who appear capable of victory.

Sheppard also is the trainer of Rochester, who has grinded out $1,043,427 from 43 starts. This will be the fourth straight KC Turf in which Rochester has competed: He won the 2002 running, was placed first via disqualification in 2003, and finished second to Sabiango last year.

Among the top jockeys named to ride Saturday at Kentucky Downs are Rafael Bejarano, Robby Albarado, Calvin Borel, Craig Perret, and James Graham.

In all, six Kentucky Downs races will be interspersed with 10 from sister track Turfway Park to make a 16-race card. The Saturday program will be the fourth of six at the abbreviated Kentucky Downs meet. After going dark Sunday, two eight-race programs will close out the meet Monday and Tuesday.

* The Saturday feature at Turfway is the $75,000 Marfa Stakes. Likely starters for the 6 1/2-furlong race include Deer Lake, Elusive Jazz, Esprit du Roi, Korbyn Gold, Level Playingfield, Private Horde, Sterling Gold, and With Distinction.