09/18/2002 11:00PM

Royal Spy in top form for Mile


Except for the $300,000 Turf, no Kentucky Cup race run at Kentucky Downs ever has produced a starter for the World Thoroughbred Championships.

That trend seems likely to continue Saturday, when the four Kentucky Cup turf races are run for the fifth year at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky. Although the timing of the series is quite acceptable - the 19th Breeders' Cup will be run in five weeks, on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park - none of the three supporting races appear to have attracted a horse worthy of moving on to Chicago.

Nonetheless, each race drew the kind of fields that appear to lend themselves to fierce competition and interesting wagering opportunities. The Grade 3 Turf, the only graded race in the series, is carded as the 14th of 16 Saturday races on the combined Kentucky Downs-Turfway card. The other Kentucky Cup races are the $200,000 Mile (12th race), $100,000 Ladies Turf (eighth race), and $100,000 Turf Dash (sixth race).

Kentucky Cup Mile

Royal Spy, coming off back-to-back victories for trainer Tom Amoss, could be a slight choice in a field of eight older horses. Royal Spy raced in January then did not run again until July at Churchill Downs. Well beaten that day, the 4-year-old Royal Spy has won his two starts since, including a recent stakes at Mountaineer Park.

Glick, the 2000 Kentucky Cup Mile winner, is one of a handful of capable challengers. Trained by Bill Mott, Glick has raced primarily in high-priced claiming company this year.

Pyrus and Jake the Flake are two others with solid credentials.

Vegetarian, the lone filly in the race, was supplemented for $10,000 to the Mile after being the lone exclusion from the Ladies Turf.

Ladies Turf

In a field with logical contenders aplenty, the well-traveled La Recherche might be a slight favorite for Amoss after winning three of her last seven starts, all turf stakes. La Recherche drew post 11 and will be ridden by Eddie Martin Jr. in the one-mile Ladies Turf.

The Kentucky Downs maximum of 12 is scheduled to start, and more than half the field seems to rate a viable chance. Solvig is the most accomplished horse in the race, having accumulated nearly $800,000 in earnings.

Littleriverqueen is entered off three straight victories. Bail Money has been competitive in richer stakes in south Florida. Four Plus Four enters off a runner-up finish in the Osunitas Handicap at Del Mar.

Sluice was good enough to win a third-level allowance at Saratoga in her most recent start.

One thing is for sure about the Ladies Turf: This will be the first time trainer Elliott Walden hasn't won the race. Walden won in 1998 and 1999 with Pleasant Temper, in 2000 with Silken, and last year with Gino's Spirits. Walden has no starter this year.

Turf Dash

Trainer Randy Morse declined to enter his stable star, Morluc, a turf-sprint specialist who quickly is approaching the $1 million earnings mark and already has won this six-furlong race once before. But Morse has two capable substitutes in Mighty Beau and Brown Eyed Major, both of whom will take solid play in a field of eight.

Mighty Beau is one of two 3-year-olds who figures among the favorites. The other is Supremo Secret, an Amoss-trained colt who has won four of his last five starts. His only defeat during that span was by a neck to Mighty Beau in an allowance on closing weekend of the Churchill Downs spring meet.