Ellis Park stakes-winner Totally Boss is headed to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint after winning Saturday's $700,000 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs.
Totally Boss earned an automatic spot in the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint by capturing the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint on Aug. 4 at Ellis Park. Now, by tacking on another powerful victory, Totally Boss receives an entry fees-paid berth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 2 and a travel stipend as part of the Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” Challenge Series.
Totally Boss, owned by Jim and Susan Hill and bred by Henderson's Mike Pressley, won the Grade 3 RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint by 1 1/4 lengths over 70-1 shot Smart Remark, who in his last start finished fifth in a high-level allowance race Aug. 2 at Ellis Park.
Trainer Rusty Arnold credited owner Jim Hill with picking out the Ellis stakes for Totally Boss as a launching pad to the Kentucky Downs race. Hill saw where the Ellis winner would be assured a spot in a stakes that seemed likely to attract more entries than the 12 horses that could start, in which case graded-stakes winners, followed by stakes winners, got priority. The Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint was Totally Boss' first stakes victory.
“The race at Ellis was huge for us,” Arnold said Monday by phone from Lexington. “Originally we were going to take Totally Boss to Saratoga to try to win a graded stakes in order to get in the race at Kentucky Downs. Mr. Hill said, 'They put up a “Win and You're In” at Ellis for that race. If he's good enough, he'll get in.' That changed our whole plan. It was a big deal for us. It was one of those times when a plan actually works out.”
Totally Boss covered six furlongs in 1:09.21 under jockey Florent Geroux, just off the Kentucky Downs course record of 1:09.15. The Kentucky Downs field included two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner and reigning male turf champion Stormy Liberal (who finished fifth), Totally Boss' highly regarded stablemate and Saratoga's Grade 3 Troy winner Leinster (third), multiple stakes-winner Imprimis (fourth), $1.5 million-earner and Royal Ascot Group 1 winner Undrafted (sixth), Grade 1 winner Wet Your Whistle (seventh) and 2018 runner-up White Flag (eighth).
“He's really turned it around, figured it out,” Hill said of Totally Boss. “He's having a great time. He spends half the time at our farm, Margaux, the other half with Rusty at the track. That just seems to suit him perfectly. He gets stronger every race, so we're happy.”
Arnold said Totally Boss came out of the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint in good fashion and will train up to the Breeders' Cup. Kentucky Downs is offering a $1 million bonus if its winner goes on to sweep Keeneland's Grade 2 Woodford Stakes and the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. But Hill and Arnold said they likely will wait for the Breeders' Cup to have Totally Boss at his best.
“It's tempting, but we don't want to jam too much into this horse,” Arnold said.
Totally Boss is a nose from being unbeaten in five starts this year. He won allowance races at Keeneland and Churchill Downs to start off his 4-year-old season, then was second by inches to multiple graded stakes-winner Om after an extremely troubled trip. His won the stakes at Ellis Park in his next start.
Totally Boss, who sold for $180,000 as a yearling at Keeneland's 2016 September sale, is a son of Street Boss and Pressley's Elusive Quality mare Totally Tucker, who also is the mom of the Larry Jones-trained Grade 3 Southwest Stakes winner Super Steed. The female family also includes millionaire Grade 1 winner Majestic Harbor and Arkansas Derby winner Danza.
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