09/10/2008 12:00AM

Two big earners clash as Kentucky Downs opens

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A couple of battle-tested geldings with combined earnings of nearly $1.6 million will take center stage Saturday at Kentucky Downs when the turf-only track opens its six-day meet with the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf.

Silverfoot, the 2005 KC Turf winner and an earner of $895,515, figures as the favorite in a field of 10 older horses in the Grade 3 KC Turf, with Stream of Gold the likely second choice. Stream of Gold, winner of the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida in March at Gulfstream Park and an earner of $690,042, will be racing for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker after having been claimed from his last race, at Saratoga.

The Turf is the anchor of the three-race Kentucky Cup turf series, which has been run annually at Kentucky Downs since 1997. Entries also were drawn Wednesday for the $100,000 KC Ladies Turf and the $100,000 KC Turf Dash.

In the Turf, run at 1 1/2 miles, Silverfoot will be making his first start since he closed stoutly to finish fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, in the Aug. 9 Arlington Million.

“I thought he ran extremely well in the Million,” said Dallas Stewart, who trains 8-year-old Silverfoot for the Chrysalis Stables of Stephanie Clark. “He’s trained very well since then.”

Stewart said he and Clark “absolutely” would consider running Silverfoot in the Oct. 25 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita if the gelding ran well Saturday.

Stream of Gold, an Irish-bred 7-year-old with long previous stints in England and Dubai, had run primarily in high-class races in North America before Zabeel Racing and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin risked him for a $60,000 tag on Aug. 27 at Saratoga. Stream of Gold overcame trouble to post an impressive two-length triumph, with the Ramseys and Maker taking him home afterward.

Silverfoot will be ridden by Robby Albarado and will break from post 8 in the KC Turf. Stream of Gold will have Victor Lebron aboard from post?6. Other logical contenders include Embossed (post 3) and Always First (post 7).

In the KC Ladies, run at a mile, a field of 12 fillies and mares was entered, with Meribel, exiting the Grade 1 Beverly D. and with Albarado to ride, favored over Royal Pleasure, Platinee, and Cat Hop.

The KC Turf Dash, run at six furlongs, drew 10 older horses, led by Kingship, Lord Robyn, Atticus Kristy, and Fort Prado.

The 2008 meet at Kentucky Downs, located near the south-central town of Franklin along the Tennessee border, will begin with several new wrinkles. Because of scheduling issues, the Kentucky Cup is being run on opening day for the first time.

Fans in attendance finally will be able to watch the races on an infield Jumbotron for the first two programs of the meet. And steeplechase racing is being revived after an eight-year absence, with the $50,000 Belle Meade Plantation Stakes carded as one of two jump races on opening day.

As usual, the seven Kentucky Downs races will be interspersed Saturday with 10 from Turfway, making for a 17-race melded card. The meet will run through Sept. 23.

At Turfway, the Saturday feature will be the $75,000 Marfa Stakes, a 6 1/2-furlong race that drew a tough field of 11, headed by Semaphore Man, Ball Four, Junior College, and Off Duty.