09/20/2006 11:00PM

Trio of old-timers tough in Kentucky Cup Turf


The field for the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf may lack for flash and panache. What it doesn't lack is experience.

With 10-year-old Rochester, 8-year-old Silverfoot, and 7-year-old Major Rhythm, the principals in the Grade 3 KC Turf have seen and done just about everything a turf marathoner can see and do. And with their earned-the-hard-way bankrolls combining for nearly $2.4 million, Kentucky Downs fans should be in for a treat Saturday when these grizzled veterans clash among a field of eight in the annual showcase event at the turf-only track in Franklin, Ky.

Silverfoot, the defending champion, figures as a solid favorite in the 1 1/2-mile race after mostly faring respectably in the seven races that have followed his 6 3/4-length triumph in the 2005 KC Turf. A gray gelding owned by the Chrysalis Stables of Stephanie Clark, Silverfoot has faced the likes of Shirocco, English Channel, and Go Deputy since last stepping foot on the undulating course that makes Kentucky Downs such a unique destination. His most recent start resulted in a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga.

"That's the third straight year he hasn't run any good at Saratoga," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "Maybe I shouldn't have tried him again, but he just trains so good up there. Since we got back to Kentucky, he's been doing super good, so we're going down there Saturday hoping to make a score."

Rochester will be running in the Turf for a remarkable fifth straight time. He won the 2002 running outright, then was awarded the 2003 victory by disqualification. He then ran second in both 2004 and 2005.

Major Rhythm, a Chicago shipper trained by Ed Beam, can count an upset in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes at Arlington Park in July as his top career feat.

The Turf, the 14th of 16 races on a program interspersed with races from sister track Turfway Park, is the richest of three Kentucky Cup events set for Saturday. The others, both worth $100,000, are the KC Turf Dash and KC Ladies Turf. Because of a scheduling shift at Turfway, this is the first year the Kentucky Cup turf races will be run before the Turfway version of the Kentucky Cup. That five-race, $825,000 series is set for next Saturday.