Red Knight earns Breeders’ Cup spot with Ky. Turf Cup win

Saturday, September 10th, 2022

Red Knight (right) holds off Gufo in the final yards of the Kentucky Turf Cup Saturday. Coady Photo

By Paul Halloran

You can’t really call Red Knight a late bloomer, because the 8-year-old had won nine races and earned almost $900,000 heading into Saturday’s Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs.

You can now call him a Grade 2 winner, millionaire ($1,210,388) and Breeders’ Cup Turf qualifier after the New York-bred chestnut gelding took the lead late in the stretch and held off multiple Grade 1 winner and favorite Gufo to win the 1½-mile race by a nose.

“It was fantastic,” said owner and breeder Tom Egan. “When Red is right, he lets you know it. We went back to the barn after the race and he was animated.”

The race was a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but Red Knight is not Breeders’ Cup nominated, meaning Egan would have to pay a supplemental fee.

By Pure Prize out of the Skip Away mare Isabel Away, Red Knight had only one graded stakes win prior to Saturday, in the Grade 3 Sycamore at Keeneland in 2020, but he had run second in five graded stakes, including the 2020 Kentucky Turf Cup, won by Arklow. Red Knight had lost to Arklow four times in five tries, but turned the tables Saturday, as Arklow contested the pace and finished sixth.

Breaking from the hedge, Gerardo Corrales had Red Knight ninth of 12 after a half-mile that pacesetter and eventual last-place finisher Keystone Field ran in :49.72. He was still seventh after a mile, but improved to third with a quarter-mile to run before making the late move and holding off Gufo, who had won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga two weeks ago. Another Mystery finished third. The final time was 2:26.96.

Heading into the Kentucky Turf Cup, Red Knight, one of four Mike Maker trainees in the race, had run only once this year, winning the Colonial Cup listed stakes at Colonial Downs July 27. Red Knight had been trained by Bill Mott until being moved to Maker this year.

“He was virtually done when I sent him to Chad Stewart in Ocala last September,” said Egan, a hotwalker and groom for the Phipps Family in Florida in the 1970s. “He turned him out for 100 days and put him back into training and he told me he wants to be a racehorse again. I called Mike Maker and asked him if he would train the horse. I know he’s had great success with older turf horses.”

Foaled March 26, 2014 at Keane Stud in Amenia, Red Knight is one of five winners produced by the late Isabel Away, whom Egan bought for $60,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September Yearling sale. She only won once in 11 starts, but has produced two stakes winners. Egan recalled paying $5,000 to breed Isabel Away to Pure Prize in 2013.

“The New York (breeding) program is fantastic. It doesn’t limit you,” Egan said, noting that Somelikeithotbrown won a stakes race earlier in the card. “It gives you other options. Why not breed in New York?”

Isabel Away’s first stakes winner was Macagone, who won 11 races and earned $654,981 in a 47-race career that included two wins in the Danger’s Hour Stakes for Trinity. Other winners for Isabel Way are Birchwood Road, a full-brother to Red Knight and $252,002 earner on the New York circuit and beyond; Jaye Jaye, the winner of her first two starts before trying stakes company; and Rossellini, a filly by Freud who sold for $40,000 as a yearling at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale.

Trinity Farm has won 29 races since 2005 and Saturday’s purse put the ownership over the $2 million mark in career earnings.

Red Knight broke his maiden in a state-bred race at Belmont in 2017. He finished first or second in his first seven starts and closed his 4-year old year by winning the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream. He was second in the Grade 2 Elkhorn and Grade 3 Red Smith (to Sadler’s Joy) in 2019.

As a 6-year-old in 2020, he finished second in the Kentucky Turf Cup and the Red Smith sandwiched around the win in the Sycamore. He was winless in five starts last year, with his best finish a second to Arklow in the Grade 2 Louisville Stakes in May. After running sixth in the John’s Call at Saratoga in August, he was given 11 months off before returning victoriously at Colonial Downs.

Leave a Reply