Notes & Quotes From KY Downs Stakes Races on Saturday

(Arklow captures the G3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup / Photo by Reed Palmer Photography & Courtesy of KY Downs)

From the Media Team at KY Downs:

Kentucky Downs:

G3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup:

Brad Cox, trainer of the winner Arklow:

“We liked him,” Cox said by phone after looking at yearlings all day at Keeneland. “He trained well, breezed really well on the dirt last week at Churchill. Looking at it on paper, I thought he’d be somewhere close. But it wasn’t to be. It’s not that he breaks bad, but sometimes he just doesn’t break real fast. You think going a mile and half he would put himself up into the race.
“But I talk to Florent after the race and he said the horse just didn’t really want to be involved early. He did a good job saving ground and gave him a great trip. He said it’s almost like he took him halfway through the race to warm up and jump on the bridle. And he responded well, and he can definitely handle the mile and a half. It’s only the second time we’ve tried it.”
And next? “Breeders’ Cup! I don’t know,” he said. “Obviously our horse loves the grass. He’s really getting better. We’ve thought all along that this is a horse that’s going to get better as a 4-year-old, maybe even better as a 5-year-old. That’s typical of an Arch, they get better with age.
“I thought the Ellis race would be a great set unto get his confidence back, hopefully get a win. He had to really fight that day to win. We just thought it would be a great opportunity to pick up a nice purse at Ellis, the timing was good, to bounce back and to try Kentucky Downs. And it worked out.”

Florent Geroux, rider of the winner Arklow:

“He’s a big horse, very long stride and very good mover. I always thought the longer the better for him,” Geroux said after winning the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup for the third time. “Brad did a great job bringing him to the race today in excellent shape and in very good form…. Sometimes he’s been a bit of a disappointment because we’ve always thought he has more in him. Today he was in against some very nice horses, Grade 1-winning horses and graded-stakes horses. And he beat them fairly and squarely.”

Tyler Gaffalione, rider of the runner-up Bigger Picture:

“He ran a heck of a race today, he really dug in, fought all the way to the wire,” jockey Tyler Gaffalione said of Bigger Picture. “The other horse just got the jump and got the split. But you can’t knock the horse. He put in a big performance today.”

Jose Ortiz, rider of the defending champ Oscar Nominated, who finished fifth on Saturday:

“I was in a good position,” Jose Ortiz said of Oscar Nominated. “The pace was too slow. We should have been a little closer early, been a little more aggressive out of the gate.”
G3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint:
Michael Stidham, trainer of the winner Proforma:
“He does everything right, loves his job and cool around the barn,” Stidham said. “Real professional.”
Proforma, racing mainly around the Mid-Atlantic was stabled with Stidham’s Maryland-based Fair Hill operation, won his graded-stakes debut. Ahead are possible spots in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Shakertown and/or the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.
“Off of that, it’s certainly something we’ll be looking at,” Stidham said. “This was a bit of a breakthrough for him. So we haven’t been thinking along those lines, but off of this race, we certainly have to consider it. The 6 1/2 (furlongs) was the key and a good ride by Joe. The horse we kind of freshened him for this race, it was six weeks in between. He was training good at Fair Hill and everything came together.”
Joe Bravo, rider of the winner Proforma:
“It unfolded really good to the eighth pole,” Bravo said. “You think, ‘Great, we’re going to break loose from everybody and explode.’ And you look over and see them running, and we really didn’t know who won the photo. All I can say that both horses laid it on the line.”
Joel Rosario, rider of the runner-up White Flag:
“He ran well. I thought turning for home I got ’em. And that horse just kept fighting. It was pretty close. I couldn’t really tell because of the angles here, but he ran well.”
G3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint:
Darrin Miller, trainer of the winner Ruby Notion:
“I don’t know if she’s good enough to get done what she’s doing right now. I know she’s just in super-good form right now,” said trainer Darrin Miller. “She feels very good and has had no issues. She seems like a really happy mare right now. She’s very game, we know that much.”
“At Saratoga, I really wasn’t sure how much the ground played up there for us that day, even though she ran a big race and we were really confident in her going up there. She was doing everything right coming into this race. We knew she would do the best she could do. So we were very confident that she wasn’t going to back out of anything, regardless of where that ended us up in the race.”
Florent Geroux, rider of the winner:
“She won very easy last time, and the filly she beat, Chanteline, won back very easily at Saratoga closing weekend. We thought maybe we got lucky last time with the soft turf from the rain. But today she showed she’s just as good on firm turf. So hopefully she’ll can keep improving. Honestly, when Lull came to me, I thought, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to hold her off.’ Because my filly was giving me everything she had. Her head was very low to the ground and she was giving everything she had. Very lucky that I was able to hold Lull off the last 50 yards. It felt like we were going fast and felt like we were finishing fast.”
Walker Hancock, owner of runner-up Lull, who won the race a year ago:
“She ran hard,” said Walker Hancock, president of Claiborne Farm, co-owner of runner-up Lull: It’s a little disappointing. But look, we finished second in a nice race, so we can’t be too upset.”
G3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf:
Drayden Van Dyke, rider of the winner Insta Erma:
“I’m riding good horses, that’s key,” said Van Dyke, fresh off his first riding title at a major California track when he won the Del Mar crown. “My agent is doing a fabulous job getting me on nice horses and I’m capitalizing on it. I was being patient with her. it’s a long stretch. I felt I had a lot of horse underneath me and I was waiting for the right time, thought that was the key to asking.”
Richard Baltas, trainer of the winner:
“The horses came in early, they went to the training center (at Keeneland) for a couple of days because this place wasn’t open,” he said. “We shipped in, got a couple of gallops over the track. (Assistant trainer) Aime Dollase did a great job, she was here the whole time. Everything looked really good when we got here. The horses were happy. I never won two in a row like this, in stakes. It’s pretty good.”
The Ladies Turf was the 19th career start for the 5-year-old mare, who won for the fifth time in her career. She came into Kentucky Downs off a four-month layoff following a last-pace finish in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day.
“The owners are pretty happy right now,” Baltas said. “We’re just very grateful. She was actually coming off a layoff so we gave her some time after the Santa Anita meet. She was a little sore, just body sore and needed a little break. I got her back at the beginning of Del Mar, so I got like four or five works on the grass at Del Mar. We were looking for a race, and the guys said let’s send her here. They found the spot. We were thinking the Ladies Sprint or here. We thought this would probably be better, the mile. It was an owner-trainer decision and just worked out.”
David Carroll, trainer of the runner-up Valadorna:
“She had trained beautifully,” said David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse. “Mark took her up to Saratoga to breeze her on the turf and she breezed beautifully. So it gave us a lot of confidence. Obviously until you do it, you don’t know for sure. Florent gave her a great ride and it was just a shame to get beat. Congratulations to the winner. We’re very, very proud of her.”
Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint:
Wesley Ward, trainer of the winner Moonlight Romance:
“We’re going to prep them all now at Royal Ascot and bring them to Ky Downs, the way it is working out,” joked Ward. “I had a lot of confidence in her going to the Royal Ascot race. Mr. Ramsey has a yearning desire to win over there, and I was second the first year we went with Cannonball. Of all the ones I ever brought since, this is the one I thought would win. There are so many things that can go wrong before, even during the race. But there was a filly that lost a shoe in the paddock, so she was walking behind the gate with 27 other horses for about 20 minutes and she just sort of got hot and nervous and the gate opened and she got left at the gate and forget it. Fortunately for us today, she rebounded and won a big purse for Mr. Ramsey and we’re on to the Breeders’ Cup now (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint).”
Jose Ortiz, rider of the winner:
It was perfect,” said Ortiz, the 2017 Eclipse Award winner as North America’s outstanding jockey. “She broke good. She was on the lead for a little bit then the 4 horse rushed through it. I just sat off her a little bit, when I was ready to make my move, she was there for me the entire time. Nice filly.”
The race was marred when Chattel, ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, went down in the stretch. Sovereign Impact, who finished third, was disqualified by stewards and placed last among the finishers for interfering with Chattel, who was euthanized on the track after fracturing his right shoulder in the fall caused by clipping heels. Carmouche was loaded into an ambulance and taken to TriStar Skyline Medical Center in north Nashville for further evaluation after saying his leg was bothering him.
A Skyline representative told Kentucky Downs that the hospital couldn’t give out details but that Carmouche is “doing well and he’s stable and in no distress at all. He’s going to be fine.”


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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