COLONIAL TURF CUP

Adriano (chestnut) returns to turf Saturday June 21 as the probable favorite in the $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. III) at Colonial Downs, the first leg of the $5 million-plus Jacobs Investments Grand Slam of Grass.

Adriano burst into the national consciousness with a dominant 6¾ length win in a turf allowance at Gulfstream in January. The A.P. Indy colt failed in his dirt debut, the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream but rebounded in the Lanes’s End Stakes (gr. II), scoring a powerful 2½–length score over Turfway’s polytrack.

Jockey Edgar Prado liked Adriano enough to choose him as his Kentucky Derby mount over Grade I winners Tale of Ekati and Monba. Adriano was never a factor while finishing 19th in the Kentucky Derby but Prado sticks with him for the Colonial Turf Cup. Prado was the leading rider here in 1997 and 1998 and has won a record three Virginia Derbies.

The 1 3/16-miles Colonial Turf Cup will be Adriano’s first start for new trainer Bill Mott, also a three-time Virginia Derby winner. Graham Motion previously trained the Courtland Farms’ homebred.

Mott will also saddle IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm’s Court Vision (left). The Gulch colt came into his sophomore campaign as a leading Kentucky Derby contender after winning the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) to close out a strong juvenile campaign. Court Vision closed well to get third in both the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial (gr. I) but finished thirteenth after a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby. Regular rider Garrett Gomez will be back aboard Court Vision Saturday as he makes his turf debut.

Bear Stables’ Kentucky Bear is the final former Triple Crown contender in the Colonial Turf Cup field. Kentucky Bear finished well to get third in the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) but was excluded from the Kentucky Derby field due to insufficient graded stakes earnings. The Mr. Greeley colt went to the Preakness instead, finishing sixth after a very rough trip. Trainer Reade Baker will reunite Kentucky Bear with jockey Elvis Trujillo, who was aboard for his easy maiden win. The Colonial Turf Cup will be Kentucky Bear’s turf debut.

Sailor’s Cap (below right) and Nistle’s Crunch both bring solid turf credentials, including finishing second and third respectively behind Tizdejavu in the Grade III Crown Royal American Turf Cup in their most recent start. That race got a big boost when Tizdejavu returned to win the Jefferson Cup (gr. III) by four lengths.

Team Valor International’s Sailor’s Cap was beaten just a neck by Tizdejavu after launching a furious stretch rally. The Distant View colt was making his stakes debut that day for trainer James Toner. Sailor’s Cap was actually favored over Adriano in the January 11 allowance at Gulfstream but he faded after setting a fast pace, finishing 11 lengths behind Adriano.

Allen Farm LLC and Alan Furst’s Nistle’s Crunch was just 1½ lengths behind Tizdejavu and may have been even closer with more running room in the stretch. The Van Nistelrooy colt has never been worse than third on turf for trainer Ken McPeek. Robby Albarado will ride Nistle’s Crunch Saturday.

Sporting Art is arguably the field’s most accomplished runner on turf after a pair of Grade III victories in Florida this spring. Sporting Art was most recently a disappointing fifth in the Arlington Classic after back to back wins in the Palm Beach Stakes and Calder Derby. The Doneraile Court colt is four for seven on turf for trainer Christophe Clement and owners Jon and Sarah Kelly. Jockey Javier Castelleno was aboard Sporting Art for both graded stakes wins and is reunited with him after missing the Arlington Classic.

El Sultry Sun was third, just 1¾ lengths behind Sporting Art, in the Calder Derby. The Eltish colt is three for five lifetime and comes off strong nose win over Prussian in the Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth. John Kimmel trains El Sultry Sun for Live Oak Plantation.

KatieRich Stables’ Your Round returns to turf for the first time this season after finishing fifth in the Ohio Derby (gr. II) three weeks ago. Your Round broke his maiden on turf as a 2-year-old and was third in the Grade III Summer Stakes on turf in just his second start. The Distorted Humor colt was only beaten 4¾ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in his most recent turf try. Trainer Mark Hubley has named James Lopez to ride Your Ride in the Colonial Turf Cup.

Boss Lafitte finished very fast to win the USA Stakes at Lone Star in his Colonial Turf Cup prep and add even more evidence of the strength of the Crown Royal American Turf, in which he was sixth behind Tizdejavu. The Dynafomer colt is four for 11 overall for trainer Tom Amoss and owner Uptown Racing, LLC.

Robert Gerczak and Kaygar Stable’s Baltimore Bob is the only entrant with experience on the Secretariat Turf Course. The Malibu Moon colt was placed first in his career debut at Colonial last summer. Baltimore Bob won two other turf races to close out his 2-year-old season and remains technically unbeaten on the lawn. Baltimore Bob’s lone start this season was a fourth in the off-the-turf Woodlawn Stakes at Pimlico. Leading rider Horacio Karamanos has the call for trainer Carlos Garcia.

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