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Kentucky Derby Disappointment Frac Daddy Seeks Redemption in 'Downs After Dark's' Commonwealth Turf
Magic City Thoroughbreds’ Frac Daddy, a disappointing 16th on the first Saturday in May in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), will seek redemption on the Churchill Downs grass Saturday night when he faces a dozen 3-year-old rivals in the 10th running of the $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf (Grade III).
The 1 1/16-mile race on the Matt Winn Turf Course is co-featured with the $175,000-added Mrs. Revere (GII) for 3-year-old fillies as the racing highlights for Saturday’s “Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka.” Post time for the first of 10 races for the night racing program is 4:30 p.m. (all times Eastern). The Commonwealth Turf is scheduled as the evening’s seventh race at 7:32 p.m.
The Kenny McPeek-trained Frac Daddy emerged as a significant candidate for the Kentucky Derby with an impressive maiden victory at Churchill Downs followed by a near-miss loss to Uncaptured in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII). After a pair of poor runs in Florida to start his 3-year-old season, a runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby (GI) punched the colt’s ticket to the Kentucky Derby, where he never threatened and finished 16th behind the victorious Orb.
Frac Daddy followed his Derby disappointment with a last-of-14 finish behind Palace Malice in the Belmont Stakes (GI), but the son of Scat Daddy has won two-of-three starts since. Allowance wins on the grass at Saratoga and synthetic Polytrack at Keeneland were sandwiched around a poor run in the Saranac (GIII) at Saratoga, but McPeek is hoping for good things on Saturday night when Frac Daddy on the Churchill Downs turf.
“It’s a great next spot for him,” McPeek said. “His last race was ultra-impressive. He has had a hard time getting over the hump against stakes horses, but his race in the Arkansas Derby was really good.”
Frac Daddy brings a record of 3-3-0 in 11 races and earnings of $383,816 into the Commonwealth Turf.
The colt had little luck at the post draw, where he landed in gate 12 of 13 under jockey Alan Garcia. But he comes into the Commonwealth Turf off a pair of sizzling “bullet” works over Keeneland’s synthetic footing, and McPeek is optimistic.
“The colt’s doing really well,” McPeek said. “It’ll be a little tricky from the outside, but I think he’ll run really well.”
Most of the others horses in this baker’s dozen are seeking the same breakthrough that McPeek hopes Frac Daddy will achieve: a graded stakes victory and a step toward greater success as they move on to their respective campaigns against older foes in 2014. It is one of the final chances of the year for 3-year-old males on turf to race against members of their age group in stakes competition, so a well-matched field will answer the starter’s bell under Churchill Downs’ lights on Saturday evening.
There are five stakes winners among the 13 runners in the Commonwealth Turf and all appear to be contenders to earn its top prize.
Alto Racing LLC’s Winning Cause won the $100,000 Sir Cat on turf at Saratoga, but his signature triumph for the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Giant’s Causeway came on the synthetic Polytrack course at Keeneland when he took the Lexington (GIII) in April. He finished third to Sayaad in the Dance of Life on the Saratoga grass, and earned runner-up finishes on Polytrack at Toronto’s Woodbine in the Ontario Derby (GIII), Victoria Park and Marine Stakes. He was runner-up to Nikki’s Sandcastle when he faced older rivals in Keeneland’s Fayette (GIII). Joe Rocco Jr. will ride Winning Cause, who will break from post six.
Tucci Stables’ River Seven, who competed in all three races of Canada’s Triple Crown, invades from Woodbine off a 10-length victory over yielding turf in the $100,000-added Labeeb. Trained by Nicholas Gonzalez, the gelded son of Johannesburg also finished second in the final two jewels of the Canadian Triple Crown, finishing behind Uncaptured in the Prince of Wales on dirt at Fort Erie and Up With The Birds in the Breeders Stakes on turf at Woodbine. He had finished 10th behind the victorious Midnight Aria in the Queen’s Plate, the first race of the Canadian series. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride River Seven, who breaks from post four.
Terry Hamilton’s Dorsett won the Mystic Lake Derby on turf at Canterbury Downs, but was unplaced in subsequent starts in a division of the Del Mar Derby (GII) and the Hawthorne Derby (GIII). Mike Stidham trains the son of Artie Schiller whose best race might have been a close third behind Jefferson Cup (GIII) winner General Election and eventual Secretariat (GI) winner Admiral Kitten in the Arlington Classic (GIII) at Arlington Park. He was disqualified to fourth in that outing, but later won a 1 1/8-mile allowance race over yielding turf at Arlington Park. Dorsett will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. from post 10.
Breaking from the outside gate in the field of 13 is Klaravich Stables Inc. and William H. Lawrence’s Central Banker, a 3-year-old son of Speightstown who won $100,000 Quick Call Stakes at five furlongs over the Saratoga turf. The Al Stall Jr. trainee returned to dirt at the famed Spa to run a solid third behind Capo Bastone in the King’s Bishop (GI), then finished third against older rivals in a seven-furlong allowance race over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface in his most recent start. Central Banker will be ridden by Robby Albarado.
A disqualification cost Golden Sabre a victory in the Charley Barley at Woodbine in July, but he returned to the races in a 1 1/8-mile allowance win on turf over Commonwealth Turf rival River Seven and older foes on Sept. 29. Trained by Malcolm Pierce for Canada’s legendary Sam-Son Farm, the homebred son of Medaglia d’Oro will be ridden by Canadian riding star Patrick Husbands.
Ruler of Love, runner-up on dirt to the well-regarded Departing in the Super Derby (GII) at Louisiana Downs for trainer Joan Scott, won the $60,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile in 2012.
Other contenders for the Commonwealth Turf include Moro Tap, a son of Tapit and an allowance winner on turf at Kentucky Downs for trainer Mike Maker; the Darrin Miller-trained Formidable Heart, a last-jump winner over older foes in a 1 ½-mile allowance at Keeneland last time out; Kaigun, an allowance winner at Woodbine last out for trainer Mark Casse; and O’Prado Ole, who brings a two-race winning streak into the Commonwealth Turf for trainer Dale Romans that includes allowance victories on turf at Keeneland and Ellis Park.
The field for the Commonwealth Turf from the hedge out (with jockey, weight) includes Golden Sabre (Husbands, 118);, Layton Register (Jon Court, 118), Ruler of Love (Jesus Castanon, 118), River Seven (120, Bridgmohan), Moro Tap (Julien Leparoux, 118), Winning Cause (Rocco, 120), Formidable Heart (Florent Geroux,118), Braveman (Miguel Mena, 118), Kaigun (Leandro Goncalves, 118), Dorsett (Hernandez, 120), O’Prado Ole (Corey Lanerie, 118), Frac Daddy (Garcia, 118), and Central Banker (Albarado, 118).