03/21/2013 2:13PM

Turfway Park: Fillies aren't ducking Pure Fun in Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks


Last year, a Grade 1 winner emerged from the Bourbonette Oaks on the Spiral undercard at Turfway when the winner, In Lingerie, proceeded to take the Spinster at Keeneland in the fall.

This year, there already is a Grade  1-winning filly in Saturday’s race, Pure Fun, though her presence did little to dissuade horsemen from running 3-year-old fillies against her. A full field of 12 is entered, including Marathon Lady, Le Fascinator, Corporate Culture, Broken Spell, Silsita, and the unbeaten Awesome Mama.

The depth of the Grade 3 Bourbonette, a one-mile race on Polytrack, comes as no surprise to Pure Fun’s trainer, Ken McPeek, who noted that a victory in the race is worth 50 points toward Kentucky Oaks qualifying.

“Everybody’s going to take a shot – they have to,” he said.

Pure Fun, unraced since taking the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet on the synthetic Cushion Track there Dec.  8, is the established class and the 7-5 morning-line favorite. So, if she is beaten, inactivity would seem a likely reason.

McPeek believes she’s ready, tweeting to his Twitter followers March 16 that, “They won’t beat her.”

On Thursday, he laughed off his social-media bravado. “It’s fun, no big deal,” he said.

Garrett Gomez rides Pure Fun, a 3-year-old daughter of Pure Prize owned by McPeek’s Magdalena Racing.

An intriguing longshot is Corporate Culture, one of several fillies shifting from turf to Polytrack. A maiden winner in her second start, she ran ninth as the favorite in the Ginger Brew on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream Park and now is confidently tested yet again in stakes company by trainer Chad Brown.

Of those with experience on Polytrack, the type of synthetic surface at Turfway, likely to garner interest are Broken Spell, second in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Alcibiades last fall, and Awesome Mama, a maiden winner at Turfway before taking a dirt allowance at Oaklawn.

Crop Report set for Rushaway

Team Valor International, the ownership syndicate that won the past two Spiral Stakes, first with eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and then with Went the Day Well, resurrected the Rushaway Stakes earlier this year by sponsoring the race for purse-strapped Turfway.

With Team Valor represented in Saturday's $75,000 Rushaway with Crop Report, the syndicate just may recoup some of its sponsorship costs. He looms a major threat to win, coming off a fast-closing, third-place finish in his U.S. debut after a troubled start.

Not that Team Valor drew it up this way. Crop Report was part of a group of horses whose connections preferred to run their horses in the Spiral Stakes but landed in the Rushaway as an alternative when they would have been excluded from the oversubscribed Spiral.

Star Contender and Stormin Monarcho look to be his main rivals in the nine-horse, 1 1/16-mile race.

Team USA vs. Team World

The horses in Saturday’s sixth race at Turfway, a $5,000 conditioned claimer, resemble those seen on a typical day of racing at the track. It’s their jockeys who may seem unfamiliar. The race has an international cast of riders who attended racing schools in the United States and around the world.

Officially called the “BCTC International Catch a Riding Star” challenge race, it includes journeymen and apprentice riders who will compete individually and as teams, set up as Team USA and Team World.

Most riders are graduates from racing schools in their home countries, with most of Team USA having attended Lexington, Ky.-based North American Racing Academy.

Team USA seemingly drew the better mounts, with captain Ben Creed on Ful Da Funk and 10-pound apprentice Mallory Strandberg on St. Armands.

Team World’s best chances lie with Mathieu Adam on Simon Ridge and Fabienne De Geer on Yankee Scholar.