09/27/2008 11:00PM

Zanjero punches BC ticket


FLORENCE, Ky. - Just as Curlin was leaving the paddock at Belmont Park on his way to becoming the all-time North American earnings leader Saturday, another 4-year-old colt trained by Steve Asmussen, Zanjero, ran himself right into the picture for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile by posting a 1 1/2-length triumph in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic, the anchor event in the 15th annual Kentucky Cup series at Turfway Park.

Bursting through a small opening in the upper stretch, Zanjero, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, drew clear from 12-1 shot Extreme Supreme. Zanjero, a Kentucky-bred by Cherokee Run, returned $7.40 as third choice in a field of six older horses. He finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.27 over Polytrack.

Honest Man and Stream Cat, the co-favorites at 8-5, finished fourth and last, respectively.

Zanjero, the leading earner going into the five-race Kentucky Cup series with more than $1.4 million, is owned by the Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. With his sixth win from 18 career starts, he earned $220,260 from the $350,000 purse, giving him a total of $1,620,786.

In no small part because the Breeders' Cup will be run over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface on Oct. 24-25, the winners of the other four Kentucky Cup races also appear headed to Santa Anita.

KC Distaff: Bear Now gets perfect trip

A four-length victory by favored Bear Now ($4.40) in the Grade 3, $100,000 KC Distaff capped a memorable day for the Canadian team of owner Danny Dion, trainer Reade Baker, and jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva, who earlier won the KC Sprint with Fatal Bullet.

Bear Now had a perfect trip in the 1 1/16-mile Distaff when stalking Devil House, pushing past leaving the quarter pole, and steadily drawing clear. Bear Now moved her record on synthetic tracks to 8 wins from 12 tries after finishing in 1:43.37. Unforgotten rallied from last to be second, another 2 1/4 lengths before Devil House in a field of seven.

Bear Now will make her next start in the BC Ladies' Classic. Baker said he already had booked a flight to California several days before the Breeders' Cup for both Bear Now and Fatal Bullet, "but there's a possibility we might go earlier now."

Bear Now earned $60,760 and now has banked $1,078,391.

KC Sprint: Fatal Bullet romps

Fatal Bullet ($4.40) stamped his ticket to the Breeders' Cup Sprint by annihilating eight other 3-year-olds, with a record performance in the Grade 3, $100,000 KC Sprint.

Trained by Baker and ridden by da Silva, Fatal Bullet seized command of the six-furlong Sprint at the half-mile pole and never looked back, winning by 7 3/4 lengths over Silver Sword. The victory gives Fatal Bullet a remarkable 7-for-8 record over synthetic surfaces.

"He did everything in this race so easily," da Silva said. "I'd go out to California with confidence in him."

Fatal Bullet, a Florida-bred gelding by Red Bullet, finished six furlongs in 1:08.03, the fastest time in the three-year history of Polytrack at Turfway.

KC Juvenile: 'Bernie' stays perfect

West Side Bernie ($5.60) most likely is headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after remaining unbeaten in two starts by posting a three-length triumph in the Grade 3, $100,000 KC Juvenile under Stewart Elliott.

Based in New Jersey with trainer Kelly Breen, West Side Bernie laid a few lengths off the early pace before closing steadily from the outside leaving the half-mile pole. By the furlong pole, he was in the lead and in full flight when drawing clear from Retap.

West Side Bernie, a two-turn maiden winner at Monmouth Park in his lone prior start, finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.22.

KC Juvenile Fillies: Sugar Mom rallies

Sugar Mom ($9.20), ridden by Manny Aguilar, extended her record to 3 for 3 since being purchased by the high-percentage Chicago team of Frank Calabrese and Wayne Catalano when she rallied from well back and edged clear to win the $100,000 KC Juvenile Fillies by a length over Complicity.

Sugar Mom, a 2-year-old Monarchos filly, finished one mile in 1:37.86. Bold Union, the 9-5 favorite and early pacesetter for Breen and Elliott, faded to fourth, while Juliet's Spirit, previously unbeaten in three starts, finished last of eight.

* An exhibition race that preceded the Saturday card was won by Pointing Home, ridden by apprentice Matthew Straight. All nine riders in the five-furlong race were graduates or students of the North American Riding Academy in Lexington.