BREEDERS' CUP NOTES
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Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships Newsletter
VENERABLE JOHN'S CALL BIDS FOR REPEAT VICTORY IN SWORD DANCER SATURDAY AT SARATOGA ON ESPN
Trillium Stable's 10-year-old gelding JOHN'S CALL will try for a repeat victory in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap at Saratoga Saturday. The 12-furlong fixture will be featured on a live one-hour telecast beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. Official Equibase Past Performances for JOHN'S CALL
The program is the fifth in a series of 17 broadcasts on the "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" on ESPN and ESPN2 this summer and fall. The series continues the following Saturday (Aug. 18) from Arlington Park, showcasing the Arlington Million and Beverly D. Stakes.
John's Call won the Sword Dancer last year by 9¼ lengths over a soft course in just his second start of the season for trainer Tom Voss. In his 2000 season debut, the chestnut son of Lord at War (ARG) had won the 12-furlong Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware Park, a race he captured again on July 22 in his first start this year.
After winning the Turf Classic at Belmont last fall, John's Call ran a terrific race to finish third in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, beaten by only a half-length by Eclipse champion Kalanisi (IRE). John's Call has run only 37 times in his career, and Voss can be expected to choose his spots carefully before another bid at the Breeders' Cup in October.
The last horse to compete at such a high level at an advanced age was Hall of Famer John Henry in 1984. The two-time Horse of the Year won the last four races of his career that season, including the Arlington Million and Turf Classic, earning a fourth Eclipse Award as turf champion.
The most formidable rival for John's Call's defense of the Sword Dance is expected to be Centennial Farm's KING CUGAT, a four-year-old son of Kingmambo, trained by Bill Mott. King Cugat won the 11-furlong Bowling Green Handicap early last month rather impressively but will be tested at 12 furlongs-the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Turf-for the first time on Saturday. Official Equibase Past Performances for KING CUGAT
Mott-trained Eclipse champion Theatrical (IRE) won the Sword Dancer, Turf Classic and Breeders' Cup Turf of 1987, the latter after a memorable stretch duel at Hollywood Park with Arc de Triomphe winner Trempolino. The Hall of Fame horseman also won the 1992 renewal of the Sword Dancer with Fraise, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf that fall at Gulfstream Park.
Other probable starters include Robert Schaedle III and Bonnie Heath Farm's seven-year-old HONOR GLIDE, winner of the 1999 Sword Dancer; Augustin Stable's WITH ANTICIPATION, disqualified after finishing first last out in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park; and Gary Tanaka's English mare ELA ATHENA. Trained by Michael Jarvis, the five-year-old daughter of Ezzoud (IRE) came to Belmont last fall and finished second to Fantastic Light in the Man o' War and third to John's Call in the Turf Classic. Official Equibase Past Performances for HONOR GLIDE; WITH ANTICIPATION; and ELA ATHENA
ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS
A listing of the upcoming major stakes races this week:
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic
Aug. 11 - $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park. Run at 1 1/8 miles for three-year-olds.
Aug. 12 - $300,000 Remington Park Derby at Remington Park. Run at 1 1/8 miles for three-year-olds.
Road to the Breeders' Cup Turf
Aug. 11 - $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap at Saratoga. Run at 1½ miles on turf for three-year-olds and up (see preview above).
Aug. 11 - $500,000 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine. Run at 1½ miles on turf for Canadian-bred three-year-olds.
Road to the Breeders' Cup Distaff
Aug. 11 - $200,000 Gardenia Stakes at Ellis Park. Run at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares.
Road to The Breeders' Cup Sprint
Aug. 12 - $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar. Run at seven furlongs for three-year-olds and up.
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf
Aug. 10- $100,000 Glens Falls Handicap at Saratoga. Run at 1 3/8 miles on turf for fillies and mares.
Aug. 12 - $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap at Saratoga. Run at 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares.
MAJOR STAKES RECAP
Race: $1.5 million Haskell Invitational Handicap (G1), 3yos, 1 1/8 miles
Track: Monmouth Park
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic - It didn't come easy, but The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner POINT GIVEN got the job done Sunday at Monmouth Park, rallying in the deep stretch to win the Haskell Invitational by three-quarters of a length. Ridden by Gary Stevens, the big chestnut son of Thunder Gulch made a big move nearing the far turn and appeared to be in control of the race, but Tom Durant's TOUCH TONE and Harold Queen's BURNING ROMA weren't through running. Both fought tenaciously against the 3-to-10 favorite deep into the stretch, with only a length separating the first four at the finish. Trainer Bob Baffert conceded that he had not been able to bring Point Given up to 100 percent after losing training time to tend a quarter crack in the colt's left hind foot. After Sunday's race, Point Given's connections wouldn't commit to running next in the Travers at Saratoga or any other plan before conferring with owner Prince Ahmed Salman. However, both Baffert and racing manager Richard Mulhall reaffirmed the Breeders' Cup Classic as the goal this year. Official Equibase Past Performances for POINT GIVEN; TOUCH TONE; BURNING ROMA
Race: $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G1), 3yos, 1 1/8 miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic -- It was not as big an upset as Jim Dandy beating Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in the 1930 Travers, but the victory of D. Wayne Lukas-trained SCORPION over Stonerside Stable's 2-to-5 favorite CONGAREE, third in Saturday's Jim Dandy Stakes, was big. When jockey Gary Stevens turned Swaps Stakes winner Congaree loose on the backstretch, it appeared he would win as he pleased. However, as the field went into the far turn, Ralph Evans' pacesetter FREE OF LOVE came at the favorite from the inside, just as jockey Jerry Bailey began to ask Robert Baker and partners' 11-to-1 Scorpion to run from third. While it became clear that Free of Love was going to get the best of Congaree in the stretch, he couldn't hold off the late charge from Scorpion on the outside. A $490,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, Scorpion came into the Jim Dandy after winning a six-furlong allowance sprint at Belmont and had never won a race beyond seven furlongs in 12 career starts. Lukas had the son of Seattle Slew entered in the six-furlong Amsterdam Stakes Friday but scratched in favor of the Jim Dandy. Lukas cited a history of quarter crack problems to explain some of Scorpion's dull performances when trying to go a distance this spring. Scorpion will now be pointed for the Travers Stakes (Aug. 25). In addition to Congaree, another disappointment in the race was Ol Memorial Stable's Preakness and Belmont Stakes runner-up A P VALENTINE, who was never a threat, finishing fourth in the field of six. Trainer Nick Zito continues to point the son of A. P. Indy for the Travers. Trainer Bob Baffert revealed Sunday that Congaree had "aggravated an old knee injury" sustained last year. He added that surgery would not be required, but the horse would be out for the rest of the year. Official Equibase Past Performances for SCORPION; CONGAREE; FREE OF LOVE; A P VALENTINE
Race: $294,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (G2), F&M, 1 1/16 miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wygod's millionaire six-year-old mare TRANQUILITY LAKE hadn't raced on dirt since February 1999. The daughter of Rahy proved she hasn't forgotten how to run on the main track by winning Sunday's Clement L. Hirsch Handicap by three lengths over Gary Tanaka's 6-to-5 favorite GOURMET GIRL. The latter won the Apple Blossom and Vanity handicaps in her last two starts. Trained by Julio Canani, Tranquility Lake finished eighth in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs after capturing the Yellow Ribbon at Santa Anita and two other stakes going into the race. Tranquility Lake's connections now have the luxury of choosing between the Distaff or Filly & Mare Turf at Belmont. Official Equibase Past Performances for TRANQUILITY LAKE; GOURMET GIRL
Race: $200,000 A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G2), 3yo & up, six furlongs
Road to the Breeders' Cup Sprint - Trainer Beau Greely wanted to run Columbine Stable and Kitchwa Stable's FIVE STAR DAY in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Gulfstream as a three-year-old in 1999. However, he had to settle for a victory in the Thirty Slews Stakes the same day when the son of Carson City didn't make it into the big race. The following year he started in the Sprint but finished last. After Five Star Day's impressive victory in Sunday's A.G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga, the flashy chestnut could get another try at Breeders' Cup glory this fall. Five Star Day went wire-to-wire, fighting off a couple of challenges at the top of the stretch, before drawing clear in 1:08 2/5, just two-fifths off the track record. It was only the horse's second start this year and first since late May. Greely indicated that Five Star Day might have only one more start before the Breeders' Cup. Official Equibase Past Performances for FIVE STAR DAY
Race: $125,000 Amsterdam Stakes (G2), 3yos, six furlongs
Road to the Breeders' Cup Sprint -- City Zip confirmed a couple of things after his victory in Friday's Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga: First, that the son of Carson City is the best three-year-old sprinter in the country, and second, that the Linda Rice-trained chestnut loves Saratoga, where he is now 4-for-4. Last summer at the Spa, City Zip pulled off the rare feat of winning all three major two-year-old stakes for colts: the Sanford, Saratoga Special and Hopeful (dead-heat). After trying to stretch the colt out for the Florida Derby early this year, Rice has City Zip back to doing what he does best -- sprinting. Prior to the Amsterdam, City Zip scored impressive victories in the Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico and the Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park. The $9,000 yearling has now earned more than $660,000. City Zip is pointed for the King's Bishop Stakes going seven furlongs on Aug. 25, Travers Day at Saratoga.
Race: $200,000 (appr.) Nassau Stakes (G1), F&M, about 1¼ miles (t)
Road to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum's three-year-old filly LAILANI (GB) worked her way up to top flight competition through the English handicap ranks, reaching a new level after capturing Saturday's Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. Trained by Ed Dunlop, the daughter of Unfuwain won the Irish Oaks at the Curragh in her previous start. Dunlop said after the race that he would take some time to consider what might be next, but the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf was an option. The Nassau was contested at about 1¼ miles, the distance of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Belmont. The first two runnings of the race were contested at 1 3/8 miles because the track configurations at Gulfstream Park and Churchill Downs cannot accommodate turf races at 10 furlongs. Official Equibase Past Performances for LAILANI
Race: $150,000 Sorrento Stakes (G2), 2yo fillies, 6½ furlongs
Road to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies - In his first year on his own after a successful tenure as Bob Baffert's assistant, trainer Eoin Harty did well last summer to get Godolphin's two-year-old colt Street Cry (IRE) to finish third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind Macho Uno and Point Given. The 39-year-old Irishman is off to a fine start again this summer with a new group of Godolphin's blue-blood juveniles, currently led by TEMPERA, nine-length winner of Saturday's Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. The daughter of A.P. Indy was Harty's first stakes winner for Godolphin, although Street Cry lost tough photo decisions to Baffert-trained Flame Thrower last year in the Del Mar Futurity and Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita prior to the Breeders' Cup. Tempera was the 4-to-5 favorite in the Sorrento after an impressive maiden score at Hollywood Park and now will be pointed for the Del Mar Debutante (Aug. 26). Official Equibase Past Performances for TEMPERA
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