By Nick Hahn

Kentucky Derby and Preakness starter Paddy O’Prado leds a short, but very talented field, in Saturday’s Grade II $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs. The El Prado colt, shown here headed to the Preakness paddock, drew the rail for trainer Dale Romans.

He is joined by co-Kentucky Derby starter Dean’s Kitten who is sired by 2004 Virginia Derby winner Kitten’s Joy. The field includes several accomplished turf stakes winners such as Workin For Hops (Arlington Classic winner), Doubles Partner (American Turf winner) and rising allowance stars Kindgergarden Kid and Vamos a Ver who has already won on the turf at Colonial Downs.

Virginia-bred Two Notch Road, bred by James Hackman, has won two allowance races on the Monmonth turf this spring.

“Dean’s Kitten and Double’s Partner are in it, those are tough horses,” said Romans on Monday evening having yet to see the draw. “We just need to run our own race. He’s good enough. We will have no excuses.”

About his Kitten’s Joy connection, Roman’s commented that he cheers for all the Kitten’s Joys he sees running but hopes in this case, Dean’s Kitten finishes second.

“Kitten’s Joy is the best horse I’ve ever trained,” added Romans.

Romans plans to breeze Paddy O’Prado at Churchill Downs on Tuesday and ship Wednesday morning to Colonial. In previous years, many Turf Cup starters would ship in the day prior or even the day of the race. Last year, Battle of Hastings, the winner of Colonial’s Twin Turf races shipped early in the week and owner Mike House relished the quiet surroundings all the way to the winner’s circle.

There is a solid opportunity for repeats just among Turf Cup particants in the five years history of the race. Cornelio Velasquez won aboard Showing Up, the only Derby starter to win the race. Speaking of Showing Up, Lael Stables, owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson who found a reason to smile in the Turf Cup winner’s circle in 2006 less than a month after Barbaro’s tragic Preakness.

Alan Garcia, aboard Dean’s Kitten, won the 2008 Turf Cup with Sailor’s Cap when it was raining down, sideways, and upside-down. Vamos A Ver is sired by Smart Strike, the same sire as 2005 winner English Channel.

Here is the field for the Colonial Turf Cup (Post position, horse, jockey, trainer, owner):

1. PADDY O’PRADO, Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans, Donegal Racing

2. WORKIN FOR HOPS, E.T. Baird, Michael Stidham, Estrorace LLC

3. KINDERGARDEN KID, Cornelio Velasquez, Barclay Tagg, Lael Stables

4. VAMOS A VER, Edgar Prado, H. Graham Motion, Augustin Stable

5. DOUBLES PARTNER, Garrett Gomez, Todd Pletcher, Winstar Farm

6. DEAN’S KITTEN, Alan Garcia, Michael Maker, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey

7. TWO NOTCH ROAD (VA), Sheldon Russell, Glenn Thompson, James Hackman and Glenn Thompson

(Photos of Paddy O’Prado by Nick Hahn and Adam Colgianese)