09/24/2008 11:00PM

Zanjero hopes to hit Classic


FLORENCE, Ky. - As the proud pioneer of synthetic racing in North America, Turfway Park is hoping to help blaze another trail by producing starters for the first Breeders' Cup on a synthetic track.

That possibility seems promising as the 15th annual Kentucky Cup series approaches Saturday at Turfway. The anchor race, the $350,000 KC Classic, has at least a couple of Breeders' Cup hopefuls in Zanjero and Stream Cat, either of whom could logically advance to the BC Classic, set for Oct. 25 on the new Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita. Moreover, it is not difficult to envision horsemen looking to connect the dots from Kentucky to California if their horses run well in the four other Kentucky Cup races.

Zanjero is a slight 9-5 morning-line choice over the versatile and Polytrack-proven Stream Cat (2-1) in the 1 1/8-mile KC Classic, which will be run for the fourth time on Polytrack. Turfway became the first North American track to use synthetics when it rolled out the surface at the 2005 fall meet.

Zanjero, an earner of $1.4 million, comes off a resounding victory in the West Virginia Governors' Handicap over dirt at Mountaineer Park, but trainer Steve Asmussen is hoping the 4-year-old colt will revert to the type of Polytrack effort that took him to a close third-place finish in his last race over the surface, the 2007 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Asmussen, who will be otherwise occupied Saturday afternoon when saddling Curlin at Belmont Park, also will run two other horses in the Kentucky Cup. Trying to advance to the Breeders' Cup is "why we're coming to Turfway with them," said Asmussen.

Honest Man, trained by Larry Jones, looks like a capable third choice in the Grade 2 KC Classic, even though the colt has never raced over a synthetic track. The rest of the Classic field is Yate's Black Cat, Extreme Supreme, and Canela.

The Classic is the 10th Saturday race and the last in the Kentucky Cup series. In order, beginning with the sixth of 12 races, the other races are the Juvenile Fillies, Sprint, Juvenile, and Distaff. Except for the Classic, purses for all of the Kentucky Cup races are $100,000. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern, with the Classic set for 6:02.

Admission and parking are free on Kentucky Cup Day, as it has been since 2003.