06/10/2007 11:00PM

Soldier's Dancer tops 13-horse Turf Cup


A field of 13, including Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby winner Soldier's Dancer, was entered on Monday for the Grade 3, $750,000 Colonial Turf Cup, scheduled for Saturday at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va.

The Colonial Turf Cup, run at 1 3/16 miles over Colonial's well-regarded turf course, is the first leg of a four-race series for 3-year-olds on turf that offers a total of $5 million in purses and bonus money to any horse that can sweep all four races. The second leg is the $1 million Virginia Derby at Colonial on July 21; the third leg is the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 11; and the fourth leg is the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27.

Soldier's Dancer, who has 5 wins from 12 lifetime starts, is the likely favorite in the field, which did not attract an especially star-studded cast. Only two other horses in the field have won a graded stakes: Adagio, winner of the Group 3 Craven Stakes at England's Newmarket racecourse in April, and Sahara Heat, winner of a slow Grade 3 Marine Stakes at Woodbine in his last start on May 19.

The field also includes Strike a Deal, who has won two listed stakes in his last two starts at Laurel and Belmont, and Mysterious Peintre, a French-bred horse who has won three minor stakes in France and who, like Adagio, will be starting for the first time in the U.S.

Colonial Downs opens on Friday, holding a nine-race card that includes eight turf races. The track typically holds approximately 80 percent of its races on the grass. A total of 127 horses entered the nine Friday races, with five of the turf races attracting the maximum 14-horse field.

Not counting also-eligibles, 136 horses entered for the 11-race Saturday card, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 All Along Breeders' Cup Stakes. The All Along, run at 1o1/8 miles on turf, attracted a field of 12 horses, including highweighted Masseuse, who won the Grade 3 Beaugay Handicap at Aqueduct in April.