TURF TEN

Atop the Turf Ten list, King Congie now seeks
Derby glory through the Bluegrass.

By Nick Hahn
A top ten look at three-year olds who have started on the turf in 2011, perhaps with thoughts of the $600,000 Virginia Derby (Grade 2) at Colonial Downs on July 16th.

Pluck, the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf Winner, is suddenly 0 for 2 in 2011 after a lackluster outing in the Transylvania leaving thoughts that his summer trip to France has been canceled. After seeing only a few turf runners in the Derby preps to date, the core of the Turf Ten collide on synthetic in Keeneland’s $750,000 Toyota Bluegrass Stakes this Saturday. Last summer, Bluegrass starters Paddy O’Prado, Interactif and its winner, Stately Victor, journeyed to Colonial for summer racing on the turf.
  1. KING CONGIE Despite being placed third appropriately for interference in the Hallandale stretch, Albertrani’s Tropical Park Derby winner crossed the wire first in his last three starts, all on the turf. As a Bluegrass probable “The King” could chart a similar course to Colonial as Paddy O’Prado.
  2. QUEEN’SPLATEKITTEN – Ken and Sara Ramsey’s Canadian-bred is sired by 2004 Virginia Derby winner Kitten’s Joy and won at a mile on the turf at Gulfstream in February for his second straight win. One of several of the turf-infused colts taking a shot in the Bluegrass.
  3. DATA LINK – Another surface switcher as this potential Bluegrass starter looks for four in a row, the last three coming on the turf.  Data Link is trained by Claude McGaughey III and owned/bred by Stuart Janney.  Janney’s parents owned the great filly Ruffian.
  4. AIR SUPPORT – Smart Strike appears on the Virginia Derby horizon with the Transylvania winner trained also by McGaughey and Janney.  After the Breeder’s Cup Turf, Air Support has moved forward about as far a Pluck as moved backward.
  5. ARIRONDACK SUMMER – Look who’s back in the hunt-Clemente’s Thunder Gulch New Yor-bred who ran well in the Transylvania. Could be ready for an uptick after a credible first race back since winning Gulfstream’s Dania Beach in January.
  6. GREAT MILLS – For a moment, the Transylvania looked like 4 in a row for the Grindstone winner who stretched out from just under a mile to just over it. There’s plenty of time but he needs to pick up another furlong and a half.
  7. CRIMSON CHINA – Motion’s Giant Causeway colt is tentatively fingered for the Bluegrass after being the runner up in the Rushaway in his first start on the dirt.
  8. JOE’S BLAZING AARON – The official winner of the Palm Beach Stakes had a win prior to being put up.  One you can’t dismiss yet can’t get too excited.
  9. SURREY STAR – Trainer James Cassidy might find capturing Sunday’s $100,000 La Puente Stakes a satisfying path to the turf after battling California’s finest on the dirt.
  10. EXTENSIVE – After bettering Master Dunker in the Dayton Andrews Sophomore Turf, Extensive is now headed to a Churchill Downs stall for a start in the American Turf or perhaps at Arlington Park.

Rounding out the field are MR. COLLINS, ANIMAL KINGDOM, WILLCOX INN, NEWSDAD, POWHATAN COUNTY, MASTER DUNKER.