The competition of graded stakes winners proved to be no problem for Jim and Susan Hill’s Totally Boss, who was a clear winner in the $684,640, Grade 3 Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes Sept. 7 at Kentucky Downs.
As a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race, the Turf Cup victory awarded the 4-year-old Street Boss gelding an automatic berth in Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita Park.
“Everybody was so high on him, and that’s when you think something is going to go wrong,” Jim Hill said of the Rusty Arnold trainee. “He was so cool in the paddock. I had high expectations for sure in this race. He’s really turned it around, figured it out. 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.”
One start earlier, Arnold sent Totally Boss to score his first stakes win in the Aug. 4 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint at Ellis Park. That victory was a rebound following a nose miss in a June 29 allowance at Churchill Downs, Totally Boss’s only loss in five starts this year.
“We didn’t think we could get in this race just as a non-stakes winner, so we went to the Ellis one to be the ‘Win and You’re In’ to this race,” Hill said. “Your plan doesn’t often work out but so far it’s been great.”
Totally Boss broke sixth Saturday under jockey Florent Geroux but was quick to get up to track the pace. The 4-1 shot settled in second behind Smart Remark, who set an opening quarter-mile in :23.54. Shakertown Stakes winner Imprimis was between third and fourth with champion Stormy Liberal, the two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, and Troy Handicap winner Leinster settled fifth.
As the field came through the stretch, Totally Boss stuck his head in front and continued on to pull clear by 1 1/4 lengths. He wrapped up six furlongs in 1:09.21 on firm turf.
“When he broke sharp, I just took it from there,” Geroux said. “He put me closer to normal, but he was traveling great. And when I asked him turning for him, he gave me his usual kick. He’s a nice horse, and I think Rusty has him near the top of his form right now.”
Smart Remark held for second and Leinster rallied for third. Imprimis, Stormy Liberal, Undrafted, Wet Your Whistle, White Flag, Cautious Giant, and Jazzy Times completed the order of finish.
The Breeders’ Cup is expected to be Totally Boss’s next start, with the gelding heading back to the Margaux Farm before the championship race.
“We thought his race at Churchill showed he belonged, the race he got beat in,” Arnold said. “His first two [this year] were condition allowance races but when he got beat, that was a good field. [Om] beat him that day by a nose and we thought it was a really good race. We had a lot of trouble and we thought at that point he was a good horse.
“Jim Hill picked the Ellis Park race. He said, ‘I’m afraid if we go to New York, it may rain and things may go wrong.’ He said let’s go to Ellis and the ‘Win and You’re In’ and he barely got up there, but it was great because it got us in for this race.”
Totally Boss was bred by Mike Pressley in Kentucky and is the first foal out of the Elusive Quality mare Totally Tucker.
The Hills purchased Totally Boss for $180,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale, where the bay was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues on NBC Sports with the Cotillion Stakes from Parx Racing on September 21. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.