09/13/2014 6:56PM

Suntracer's nose hits wire first in Kentucky Turf Cup


FRANKLIN, Ky. – The big-money events kept eluding Suntracer, but not this time. The 6-year-old Suntracer invaded Kentucky Downs from Chicago to register the richest victory of his career Saturday in the Grade 3, $347,400 Kentucky Turf Cup, the annual highlight at turf-only Kentucky Downs.

With jockey Florent Geroux using a looping move in the far turn before grinding out a nose triumph, Suntracer outfinished Pyrite Mountain in the final yards for Team Block, a family partnership that includes his trainer, Chris Block.

“He was overdue for something like this,” Block said by phone from Chicago. “I’m extremely proud of him. I’m happy for everybody involved, but mostly for the horse.”

War Dancer, the 6-5 favorite in a field of 10 older horses, finished third, another 2 3/4 lengths back. An objection by his jockey, Alan Garcia, for alleged stretch interference was not allowed.

Suntracer returned $17.40 to win after finishing the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2:27.12, just .14 of a second off the track mark. The course was rated firm and yielded swift times throughout the 10-race card.

Suntracer, an Illinois-bred by Kitten’s Joy, earned $176,700 – which is only about half of what he could have made if he was Kentucky-bred. As with all four stakes Saturday at Kentucky Downs, half of the Kentucky Turf Cup purse was restricted to horses eligible to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

“It amounted to a $300,000 purse for us, but he was born and raised in Illinois, and I’m as proud as can be about that,” said Block.

Suntracer now has won seven times, with his career bankroll standing at $795,006.

Pyrite Mountain, trained by Todd Pletcher, had an unlucky trip, bobbling numerous times on the far turn and then having to wait behind traffic before making a sustained run under Julien Leparoux.

The $2 exacta (5-2) paid $121.80, the $1 trifecta (5-2-3) returned $185.80, and the 10-cent superfecta (5-2-3-10) was worth $88.17.