Kentucky Turf Cup Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks

If you're playing only to win, go with my top value pick He’s No Lemon (10/1)

Post Position and Odds – Kentucky Turf Cup

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 CHANGI 50/1
T Baze J M Dolan
L Saez W Mott
I Ortiz Jr. M Maker
4 EONS 20/1
F Prat A Delacour
5 ARKLOW 9/2
F Geroux B Cox
J Leparoux M Matz
7 HE’S NO LEMON 10/1
J Castellano H G Motion
J Graham I Correas IV
A Beschizza J Sisterson
T Gaffalione M Maker
J R Velazquez H G Motion
C Lanerie J Sharp
13 CELERITY – AE 50/1
G Saez W Cundiff
J Talamo M McCarthy
A Beschizza R Attfield
J Rosario A Delacour

Best Bets for the Kentucky Turf Cup

Here are my plays ($78 in total)

$2 Trifecta key Zula Alpha with Arklow, He’s No Lemon, Grand Journey and Postulation = $24

$2 Trifecta key Zula Alpha with Arklow, He’s No Lemon, Grand Journey and Red Knight = $24

$5 Exacta box Zula Alpha, Arklow and He’s No Lemon = $30

Top Pick:

He’s No Lemon (10/1)

How to Watch the Kentucky Turf Cup

Kentucky Turf Cup Race Information
What Kentucky Turf Cup (G3)
Where Kentucky Downs
When Saturday, September 12 — 5:04pm Central time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $1,000,000

Zulu Alpha aims to validate his position at the top of the male turf division when he returns to Kentucky Downs to defend his title in the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup on Saturday.

Trained by Mike Maker, who has two in the 1 ½-mile race, the 7-year-old son of Street Cry comes into this year’s edition in the best form of his career, having won 3 out of 4 on the year, including a win in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf to begin his season. His only loss in 2020 came in narrow fashion two starts ago. This is expected to be Zulu Alpha’s final race before the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November.

Chief among his competition will be the 2018 winner of the Kentucky Turf Cup, Arklow. Second to Zulu Alpha in last year’s edition, the millionaire son of Arch will be adding blinkers on Saturday in hopes of earning his first victory of the year.

Third choice in the full field of 12 is Postulation, who finished a good second to Zulu Alpha in both horse’s last race, the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.

Race Analysis

Zulu Alpha

His progression this year from being a solid performer in long distance races on the grass to becoming the clear leader of the division has been pretty remarkable for a horse his age. Better than ever at 7, his late run has become like clockwork and he’s won at distances between 9 ½ to 12 furlongs. Note that Tyler Gaffalione has been a new rider for him this year and will now ride him for the fifth consecutive time on Saturday. Last year’s win was impressive, so you know he can handle the quirkiness of the Kentucky Downs turf course. There’s not a ton of value here, as he’ll be a heavy favorite, but he’s also strictly the one to beat.


First in this race two years ago, and second last year, it’s not completely clear if Arklow has lost a step this year. He won the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last fall, but has now lost five straight. Having said that, his losses are not of the bad variety and perhaps the addition of blinkers and the return to a track he clearly likes will be enough to bring out his best. If so, as clearly the second classiest horse in the race, he becomes the top threat to the favorite.


It might not be easy to wire 12 furlong races at Kentucky Downs, but there is little early speed in this race. Postulation looks to be one of only two horses in the race who have any interest in contesting things early. That is an advantage, and if he can go slow enough early, he should have something left when the big boys come knocking in the long stretch run of the Kentucky Turf Cup.


A confirmed stretch runner, he looks to take his game to a new distance at 12 furlongs. If he does handle the trip, he is always a threat to rally up into the picture. His three recent races in Kentucky are all good, including a solid second behind the classy Factor This last time. Having said that, there are plenty of good late runners in this race, and I do like some of them better.

He’s No Lemon

If any of the relatively younger horses in the race are ready to challenge the heavy hitting veterans, this is the one I believe most likely to do it. Consistently improving for trainer Graham Motion, this well bred son of Lemon Drop Kid is bred to love the 12 furlong trip. He was getting pretty good at the end of last year, and now with three starts under him this year, look for him to take another step forward as he takes his second shot at Zulu Alpha. I expect him to run much better this time around.

Red Knight

Another dangerous late runner, the New York-bred son of Pure Prize has won a stakes race in each of the last two seasons. On the negative side, he’s only run once this year and that was eight months ago. For that reason, I am not including him among my top picks, but if he is ready to fire off the bench, he is in with a shot. The distance will absolutely not be a problem.

Standard Deviation

Blinkers will be on for this 4-year-old son of Curlin, who has shown flashes of strong racing since switching over to the grass last summer. He’ll need to wake up some, though, because his two races since returning from a trip to the Middle East have been disappointing. His back class is enough to think he can compete with these if he does return to his best on Saturday.

Grand Journey

Mike Maker’s other runner will have far different odds than his stablemate Zulu Alpha, and for good reason, as he is only two races removed from the claiming ranks. Still, Maker has made a career for just this transition, and this one looks to be right up his alley. He’s won 6-of-13 running shorter (and against cheaper) on the grass. Bred to run long, let’s see if Maker can work his magic once again. The odds will be right to find out.


The son of Giant’s Causeway was able to win a pair of stakes on the lawn last year at Delaware Park. That’s certainly a few cuts below what he’ll find in this million-dollar race. So far this year, he’s been running okay in shorter races, now he’ll make the big stretch out to 12 furlongs. He is eligible to appreciate the distance, but this is probably just a little bit too tough.


The son of Ghostzapper did run a decent race last year at Kentucky Downs to finish a good fourth in the Dueling Grounds Derby (G3), but unfortunately he has yet to break through against top competition. His form this year, while not terrible, inspires little confidence against some of the best turf distance horses in the nation.

American Tattoo

The import from Argentina is coming off a very poor performance last time at Saratoga. That coupled with the belief that he is better on dirt, makes him hard to recommend in this difficult spot.

Also Eligibles (Will Only Run as the Result of Scratches From the Main Draw)


A winner in Germany at 1 ½-miles last fall, his two starts since returning to America were just okay. He’s not without hope, but there are many more to like in this deep field.

Surprise Twist

This one had some decent results running against stakes competition last year at 12 furlongs. It looks like his first two starts this year were just to get him fit. If he draws in, he is a longshot possibility to hit the board.


The late runner has not won a race in more than a year and looking back at some of his wins, they come against the significantly cheaper competition.

Perfect Tapatino

Another one who has not found the winner’s circle in better than a year. While his recent form is not good, he should at least appreciate the return to distance racing.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]