BREEDERS' CUP NOTES
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Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships Newsletter
SARATOGA'S TRAVERS & PERSONAL ENSIGN HIGHLIGHT BUSY WEEKEND ON ESPN & ESPN2
The Thoroughbred Corp.'s POINT GIVEN, winner of the Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational, will be the center of attention as the favorite in Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. The 132nd running of the storied Travers for three-year-olds at 1¼ miles will be broadcast from Saratoga on ESPN from 4:30-6:00 p.m. (all times ET) as the "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" series on ESPN Networks continues. Official Equibase Past Performances for POINT GIVEN
Despite having not yet faced older horses, Point Given is the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic in most future books. The 17-hand chestnut son of Thunder Gulch had to work to win the Haskell last out, with trainer Bob Baffert noting beforehand that the horse might be a little short of his best.
The principal rivals for Point Given will be Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor's A P VALENTINE, Godolphin's E DUBAI, Robert Baker, David Cornstein and William Mack's SCORPION, Ralph Evans' FREE OF LOVE and Gary and Mary West's DOLLAR BILL. Official Equibase Past Performances for AP VALENTINE; E DUBAI; SCORPION; FREE OF LOVE; DOLLAR BILL
Trained by Nick Zito, A P Valentine was runner-up to Point Given in the Preakness and Belmont but fourth last out in the Jim Dandy. D. Wayne Lukas-trained Scorpion was the upset winner of that Travers prep race, with Free of Love second. E Dubai, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, impressively won the Dwyer at Belmont in his last start and has trained strongly for the Travers.
The Saturday program is one of three in the "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" series being broadcast this weekend from Saratoga, with a telecast Friday from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on ESPN2 showcasing the running of the $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap for fillies and mares at 1¼ miles. A third broadcast on Sunday from 5:00-6:00 p.m. focuses on the $250,000 Ballerina Handicap for fillies and mares at seven furlongs, a race that has produced contenders for the Breeders' Cup Distaff or Sprint. Saturday's show also will feature the $250,000 seven-furlong King's Bishop Stakes for three-year-olds.
Friday's Personal Ensign is named for Ogden Phipps' Hall of Fame filly whose climax to her undefeated career was her victory in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors. Many regard that race through the stretch as the greatest in the event's history.
Two-time Personal Ensign winner BEAUTIFUL PLEASURE will be trying for her third consecutive victory in this key prep for the Distaff. Trained by John T. Ward Jr. and owned by John Oxley, the six-year-old daughter of Maudlin won the 1999 Distaff at Gulfstream Park to top off an Eclipse Award season. She is unplaced in two starts this year, but her connections insist she needs to race into her best form. Other top contenders include Anstu Stable's Delaware Handicap winner IRVING'S BABY and William S. Farish's 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner SECRET STATUS. Official Equibase Past Performances for BEAUTIFUL PLEASURE; IRVINGS BABY; SECRET STATUS
Sunday's Ballerina Handicap features a strong field, with Kinsman Stable's defending winner DREAM SUPREME up against The Thoroughbred Corp.'s 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner SPAIN. The latter will be making her first start since April, when trainer D. Wayne Lukas decided the four-year-old daughter needed a breather before preparing for her Breeders' Cup defense. Official Equibase Past Performances for DREAM SUPREME; SPAIN
ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS
A listing of the upcoming major stakes races this week:
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic
Aug 25. - $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Run at 1¼ miles for three-year-olds (see preview above).
Aug. 26 - $350,000 Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park. Run at 1 1/8 miles for three-year-olds and up.
Road to the Breeders' Cup Turf
Aug. 25 - $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at Del Mar. Run at 1 3/8 miles on turf for three-year-olds and up.
Road to the Breeders' Cup Distaff
Aug. 24 - $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga. Run at 1¼ miles for fillies and mares.
Road to the Breeders' Cup Sprint
Aug. 25 - $200,000 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga. Run at seven furlongs for three-year-olds.
Aug. 26 -$250,000 Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga. Run at seven furlongs for fillies and mares (see preview above).
Road to the Breeders' Cup Mile
Aug. 25 - $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. Run at 1 1/16 miles on turf for three-year-olds and up.
Road to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
Aug. 26 - $250,000 Del Mar Debutante at Del Mar. Run at seven furlongs for two-year-old fillies.
MAJOR STAKES RECAP
Race: $1 million Pacific Classic (GI), 3yo & up, 1¼ miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic - Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel's coast-to-coast assault continued last weekend, climaxing with the wire-to-wire victory of Juddmonte Farms' five-year-old SKIMMING in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. With jockey Garrett Gomez aboard, the son of Nureyev went to the front early and was never threatened in the 10-furlong test that he won the previous year. Frankel, who won the $1 million fixture for a sixth time in the 10-year history of the event, watched the race from Belmont Park, where he had sent out Juddmonte's Aptitude to win the Saratoga Breeders' Cup only 15 minutes before (see below). Mike Pegram's CAPTAIN STEVE, the leading money winner racing in North America, continues to struggle since winning the Dubai World Cup in March. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Fly So Free had a wide trip in the Pacific Classic and finished fourth. Miller Trust's five-year-old gelding FUTURAL, disqualified winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup, was the 8-to-5 favorite under Chris McCarron but was never in contention, finishing last in the field of six. Frankel said after the race that given Skimming's fourth in the Woodward and seventh in The Jockey Club Gold Cup last fall, he didn't think the horse cared for the Belmont Park surface. Frankel added he probably would back off his campaign and get him ready for the big races in California again next year. Official Equibase Past Performances for SKIMMING; CAPTAIN STEVE; FUTURAL
Race: $291,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (GII), 3yo & up, 1¼ miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Classic - Bobby Frankel should be well represented in the Breeders' Cup Classic after Juddmonte Farms' APTITUDE'S impressive victory in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap Sunday. A four-year-old son of A.P. Indy, Aptitude was best known as the horse that finished second-in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes last year and the Hollywood Gold Cup this summer. In the Gold Cup, however, he was moved up to first place after Futural was found to have bothered Aptitude's stablemate Skimming in the stretch. There was little drama Sunday as Aptitude swept around his rivals in the far turn to take the lead and romp to an easy score over a moderate field. Aptitude is pointed next for The Jockey Club Gold Cup, Oct. 6. Official Equibase Past Performances for APTITUDE
Race: $1 million Arlington Million (GI), 3yo & up, 1¼ miles on turf
Road to the Breeders' Cup Turf - John Toffan, Trudy McCaffery and Robert Sangster's gleaming chestnut five-year-old BIENAMADO, widely regarded as America's best turf runner this season, was a deserving favorite in Saturday's 19th Arlington Million. However, the homebred son of 1993 Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up Bien Bien never looked comfortable over the yielding ground and finished seventh as SILVANO (GER) swept to a three-length victory over Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's HAP. Owned by the German-based stable Gestut Stiftung Fahrhof, five-year-old Silvano had raced in Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong this year prior to his trip to Chicago. The son of Lomitas had registered a major victory over another well-known world traveler when he defeated Jim and Tonic (FR) in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong in late April over his preferred distance of 10 furlongs. Winning trainer Andreas Wohler had never run a horse in the United States, nor had jockey Andreas Suborics ridden a race in this country. Although Silvano had finished third in the 12-furlong Dubai Sheema Classic in March, Wohler said after the Million that the Breeders' Cup Turf distance is beyond Silvano's best and he probably would not be a candidate for that race. The stable's current plans call for a start in the 11-furlong Man o' War at Belmont (Sept. 8) and perhaps a trip to Australia for the Cox Plate at the Moonee Valley course, run on Breeders' Cup Day. Official Equibase Past Performances for BIENAMADO; SILVANO; HAP
Race: $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (GI), 3yos, 1¼ miles on turf
Road to the Breeders' Cup Turf - After the disappointment for the connections of Beverly D.-favorite Astra two hours earlier at Arlington Park (see below), trainer Simon Bray and Madeleine Paulson needed a lift. They got it when Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's three-year-old STARTAC roared from last to a thrilling nose victory in the Secretariat Stakes. Making his first start since finishing unplaced in the Kentucky Derby, the son of Theatrical (IRE) appeared hopelessly out of contention when still last in the field of 11 with just a quarter-mile to go in the 10-furlong test. With only 50 yards left, Sam-Son Farm's Canadian invader STRUT THE STAGE, also a son of Theatrical, seemed to be the winner. But Startac's jockey, Alex Solis, refused to give up, and Strut the Stage had to settle for second. It was only another half-length to William Bloom and partners' SHARP PERFORMANCE. Startac made his first four career starts on turf, winning twice and running well in the other two. When he showed an affinity for dirt by winning the Turf Paradise Derby by nearly five lengths, his connections were encouraged to follow the Derby trail. After the Secretariat, the colt's future is obviously on turf, although Bray did not set forth a particular schedule. Official Equibase Past Performances for STARTAC; STRUT THE STAGE; SHARP PERFORMANCE
Race: $750,000 Alabama Stakes (GI), 3yo fillies, 1¼ miles
Road to the Breeders' Cup Distaff - In perhaps the most imposing performance by a filly or mare in the United States this year, Juddmonte Farms' Kentucky Oaks winner FLUTE put on a show at Saratoga on Saturday with a wire-to-wire victory in the Alabama Stakes. The Kentucky homebred daughter of Seattle Slew had never been on the lead before the stretch in any of her five previous career starts, but jockey Edgar Prado saw no reason to hold her back when none of the other horses seemed to want the lead. The Alabama victory represented yet another major win this year for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who did not specify what might be next for lightly raced Flute, although he did suggest that one alternative could be the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Official Equibase Past Performances for FLUTE
Race: $700,000 Beverly D. Stakes (GI), fillies & mares, 1 3/16 m (turf)
Road to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - Allen E. Paulson's five-year-old mare ASTRA came into Saturday's Beverly D. at Arlington Park as an odds-on favorite with eight victories in only 10 career starts, including two major stakes wins in California this year. However, the highly regarded daughter of Theatrical (IRE) had never run on a course as yielding as Arlington's after the Chicago area's recent rains. Astra didn't handle the going and finished last of seven. Edouard de Rothschild's four-year-old filly ENGLAND'S LEGEND (FR) appeared to relish the wet ground conditions, going to the front early under jockey Corey Nakatani and crossing the finish line nearly eight lengths clear of her nearest rival. The daughter of two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Lure began her career in France last year with trainer Andre Fabre but failed to make an impression in Group company. The bay filly was sent to trainer Christophe Clement at Payson Park in Florida over the winter to become the latest in a long line of European imports the French-born trainer has developed into top-level performers. She was making her fourth start for Clement, who was at Del Mar Saturday to run three-year-old filly Voodoo Dancer in the Del Mar Oaks (see below). Prior to the Beverly D., England's Legend had won the 10-furlong New York Handicap at Belmont, which is the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Trainer Simon Bray indicated after the race that he saw nothing wrong with Astra, simply attributing the dull performance to the wet ground conditions. Official Equibase Past Performances for ASTRA; ENGLANDS LEGEND (FR)
Race: $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (GI), 3yo fillies, 1 1/8 miles on turf
Road to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - International sportsman Gary Tanaka got a quick return on his private purchase of lightly raced three-year-old filly GOLDEN APPLES (IRE) when she rallied from off the pace to capture Saturday's Del Mar Oaks under jockey Garrett Gomez in a 21-to-1 upset. Trainer Ben D. A. Cecil recommended the purchase of the daughter of Pivotal (GB), a winner only once in four starts but third in the Group 2 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in her last start for Irish trainer David Hanley on June 30. Golden Apples arrived in the United States early in the week and didn't clear quarantine until Wednesday. Green Hills Farm's VOODOO DANCER, trained by Christophe Clement, was the 13-to-10 favorite but lacked a closing punch, finishing fourth, although beaten by only two lengths and a neck. Janis Whitham's second favorite AFFLUENT set the pace deep into the stretch, turning back a stiff challenge from the favorite to finish second, only a length behind the winner. Official Equibase Past Performances for GOLDEN APPLES; VOODOO DANCER; AFFLUENT
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