Red Knight Upstages Favorite Gufo In Kentucky Turf Cup Thriller, Earns Breeders' Cup Berth - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Red Knight Upstages Favorite Gufo In Kentucky Turf Cup Thriller, Earns Breeders’ Cup Berth

Red Knight outbattles Gufo, center, and Another Mystery to win the G2 Kentucky Turf Cup by a nose

Taking the slim lead with a furlong to run, Red Knight had to call upon all his reserves to hold off a determined closing bid from Gufo in a thrilling finish in $1-million Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) Saturday at Kentucky Downs.

With Gerardo Corrales at the reins, Red Knight won by a nose and covered 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:26.96.

Another Mystery was third, a neck behind favorite Gufo.

With the victory, Red Knight garnered an automatic, fees paid berth to the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) Nov. 5 at Keeneland as the Kentucky Cup Turf is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You're In” series.

In his previous start, Red Knight won the Colonial Cup Stakes, marking a return from an 11-month layoff. The Kentucky Turf Cup was is his second graded score after taking the 2020 Sycamore Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.

Reserved off the early pace set by Keystone Field, Red Knight was seventh through a mile in 1:38.46. Five wide exiting the turn, he bid at the quarter pole as Highest Honor grabbed a narrow lead, then thrust his head in front with a furlong to run and dug in to prevail when Gufo came calling.

Gufo, who was ridden by Joel Rosario, came into the Turf Cup off two weeks rest, which trainer Christophe Clement said was a concern. He was eighth with a half mile to go and then rallied determinedly but just missed.

“It was a good effort,” Rosario said. “He did everything right. I thought we were going to get there.”

“When Gufo came next to Red Knight, Red Knight actually saw him eye-to-eye and he got additional energy,” Corrales said through DRF en Espanol announcer David Merida. “He just never quit.”

An 8-year-old New York-bred by Pure Prize out of the Skip Away mare Isabel Away, Red Knight ight has a 10-8-1 record from 29 career starts and has $1,210,388 in lifetime earnings after becoming racing's latest millionaire with the $317,130 winner's share of the Kentucky Turf Cup purse.

A  homebred for Tom Egan's Trinity Farm, Red Knight returned $26.04 for the victory, the 10th of the meet for trainer Mike Maker, tying Wayne Catalano's feat in 2013, and his fifth in the Turf Cup. Maker's $2,000,289 in purse earnings through Saturday is a track record with two days left in the seven-day FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.

“You know, I didn't think about that until you mentioned it,” Maker said. “Any race here is meaningful. Mr. Egan is a great guy. This was a tremendous effort, to be honest with you. I thought he was going to get beat but he dug in and fought hard. He's a fighter, a tough horse.”

Egan sought out Maker to train the horse after he had been with Hall of Famer Bill Mott. The horse had not run since a sixth-place finish in the John's Call at Saratoga in late August of 2021. Egan, originally from Connecticut, sent the horse to trainer Chad Stewart in Ocala, Fla. in September of 2021.

“Chad was wondering if he was done or not,” Egan said. “The horse was tired. We turned him out for 90 days. The first week wasn't too good, then he said, 'Tom, I think he's back.' Then I gave him to Mike in January.”

“Just remarkable; he is a gift from above,” he continued. “A year ago, I thought he was done. So, he's the comeback kid.”

Egan would not commit to the Breeders' Cup.

“But Mike was very supportive of the concept,” he said.

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