JEFFERSON CUP STAKES | PURSE: $100,000 | GRADE: 3 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 1/16 MILES
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- It might seem unreasonable for a trainer to repeatedly slap his program and get all excited about his 1-5 shot drawing off as a clear winner, but Tom Proctor is extremely wary about what can happen in short fields.
"Four-horse fields are the worst," Proctor said moments after watching Banned race to a two-length triumph Saturday in a scratch-laden 36th running of the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup on the Churchill Downs turf. "How often do you see it get messed up? I've seen it often enough that it's scary."
Kept in the clear throughout the 1 1/16-mile journey by Jose Lezcano, Banned inhaled front-running Redboard approaching the quarter pole, dismissed a bid from Perregaux nearing the eighth pole, then had plenty left to finish clear of a mild late run from Benergy. That foursome was all that remained of a field cut in half with the early scratches of Live In Joy, Dream Warrior, Swagger Jack, and Great Mills.
Banned, by Kitten's Joy, returned $2.60 after finishing in 1:43.66 over a yielding course, with Benergy ending a $2 exacta worth just $8.40.
Banned, owned by the Glen Hill Farm of Leonard Lavin, now has won 4 of 7 starts, with the $106,215 Jefferson Cup coming some six weeks after he crushed a solid field in the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill.
Proctor was non-committal regarding a possible next start for Banned, although the Grade 1 Secretariat on Aug. 13 at Arlington Park is an obvious possibility. "We'll enjoy this for a couple days and talk about our options," he said.
* Earlier Saturday, T M Fred Texas ($12.20) got a great stalking trip under Santos Chavez before pulling away to a 9 1/4-length romp in the $50,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, the first race for Arabians in track history. Grilla, the 7-10 favorite, finished a distant fourth in the field of eight. The winning time for 1 1/4 miles was 2:19.85.