09/12/2008 11:00PM

Rumor Has It stuns Kentucky Cup Turf

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FRANKLIN, Ky. – The silence was almost deafening Saturday evening at Kentucky Downs when the longest shot in the race, Rumor Has It, led every step of the way in posting a 59-1 upset in the anchor race of the Kentucky Cup turf series, the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf.

Shipping in from Chicago for trainer David Hinsley, Rumor Has It opened a huge lead under Eddie Perez soon after the start, repulsed a challenge from Stream of Gold with about three furlongs to run, then pulled away to a stunning 3 3/4-length triumph. Stream of Gold held second, with My Happiness third and Silverfoot fourth in a field of nine older horses.

Rumor Has It, a 7-year-old gelding by Awesome Again, finished 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.27 over firm going at the turf-only track. He returned $121.20 with his fourth victory from 23 lifetime starts.

Rumor Has It, winless since November 2005, had finished sixth of seven in his latest start, an Arlington Park turf allowance. He is owned by his breeders, William Patterson and James Glenn.

The KC Turf was the last of four stakes on opening day of the six-day meet at Kentucky Downs.

Ladies Turf: Royal Pleasure by a head

Royal Pleasure, an Augustin Stable homebred ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr., emerged from a tight pack to post a hard-fought victory Saturday over favored Meribel in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Ladies Turf, one of four stakes on opening day of the six-day meet at Kentucky Downs.

Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, the East Coast-based Hall of Famer who is no stranger to Kentucky Downs, Royal Pleasure returned $14.40 as the fourth choice in a field of 11 fillies and mares. Meribel, the 6-5 favorite, was just a head behind, dead-heating for second with Katerbug, a 30-1 shot who forced all the pace.

Royal Pleasure, a 5-year-old mare by Royal Academy, finished a mile in 1:37.23 over firm going at the turf-only track. It was her eighth victory from 24 career starts.

Sheppard ran the venerable Rochester in the anchor race of the Kentucky Cup series, the Grade 3 Turf, for five straight years, winning it twice (2002-03).

The $200,000 KC Turf was to be run later on Saturday's card.

Turf Dash: Hold the Salt breaks own record

Homeister also had the winning mount when Hold the Salt ($14.60) prevailed in another bang-bang finish in the $100,000 KC Turf Dash. Always close to the early pace, Hold the Salt split rivals after turning for home, turned back Atticus Kristy, then had enough left to hold off Fort Prado and Kingship. Atticus Kristy, the fourth finisher, was beaten just a half-length.

Hold the Salt, a 6-year-old gelding bred and owned by Cynthia Knight and trained by James Dodgen, finished six furlongs in 1:09.15, lowering his own track record.

Belle Meade: Brazilian upsets steeplechase

Quem Se Atreve ($60), a Brazilian-bred ridden by Carl Rafter, posted a major upset over the 5-2 favorite, Langburg, in the $53,200 Belle Meade Plantation Stakes, a 2 1/4-mile steeplechase.

Trained by Jack Fisher, Quem Se Atreve was always close to the lead before pulling off to win by 7 3/4 lengths.

The Belle Meade was the second of two steeplechase races that led off the live Kentucky Downs program. They were the first jump races held here in eight years.

Marfa: Off Duty comes out ahead after duel

At Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., Off Duty ($6.60) defended his championship in the $74,000 Marfa Stakes, outgaming 24-1 shot Nakayama Arashi in a stretch-long duel. Larry Melancon was aboard Off Duty for trainer Lynn Whiting in the 6 1/2-furlong Marfa, which went in 1:16.08 over Polytrack.

Last year, Off Duty won the Marfa before upsetting the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland at 13-1. A 5-year-old horse by Yes It's True, Off Duty now has won 9 of 20 career starts.

For simulcast purposes, 10 Turfway races were interspersed with seven from Kentucky Downs for a 17-race marathon.

* Friday night at Turfway, a blanket finish resulted from the first sanctioned Quarter Horse race ever run on a synthetic surface when Georgia Ryon ($50.60) narrowly prevailed in the $25,000 Turfway Park Sprint Stakes. Less than a length separated the first seven finishers in the 10-horse field.