BREEDERS' CUP NOTES
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"RACING TO THE BREEDERS' CUP" NEWSLETTER
GUIDED TOUR UPSETS CAPTAIN STEVE IN STEPHEN FOSTER
Making his first start since winning the Dubai World Cup on March 24, Mike Pegram's CAPTAIN STEVE was made the 7-to-10 favorite in Saturday's $831,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Jockey Jerry Bailey turned Captain Steve loose to run by Michael Tabor's pace-setting Duckhorn at the top of the stretch and the four-year-old son of Fly So Free appeared on his way to victory. However, jockey Larry Melancon swung Morton Fink's GUIDED TOUR to the outside and wore down the favorite for a half-length upset victory at odds of 15 to 1.
Winning trainer Niall O'Callaghan had made a last-minute decision to enter Guided Tour in the Stephen Foster rather than a softer spot in Maryland the same day. "We thought that it was possible that Captain Steve might not be at his best coming back from Dubai for this race and Carl's [Nafzger] horse [Unshaded] might need another race. Would Brahms handle dirt? It was about percentage and taking a chance."
Trainer Bob Baffert was prepared for the possibility that Captain Steve might be upset. "I told Jerry [Bailey] that he was going to be a little short because I sort of rushed him into it. At the sixteenth pole I could tell he was tired. Giving a horse like that [Guided Tour] 10 pounds is pretty tough."
Captain Steve, third to eventual Horse of the Year Tiznow in the Breeders' Cup Classic last fall, had won the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February in his only start this year before the Dubai race.
Saturday's second-place earnings of $166,200 brought Captain Steve's career bankroll total to $6,693,356 to move him from sixth to fourth on the all-time list behind only Cigar, Skip Away and Silver Charm. He passed Alysheba and John Henry.
Thomas Van Meter II's four-year-old Brahms finished third, 2¾ lengths behind Captain Steve, in the nine-furlong race timed in 1:47 3/5 over a fast track. James Tafel's Unshaded finished fifth in the field of eight in only his second start since winning the Travers Stakes at Saratoga last August.
Guided Tour, a five-year-old gelding by Hansel, came into Saturday's race after finishing third to Duckhorn as the favorite in the Hawthorne Gold Cup in Chicago four weeks before. He finished 12th of 13 as a 90-to-1 longshot in the Breeders' Cup Classic last fall at Churchill Downs.
POINT GIVEN EMERGES FROM TRIPLE CROWN AS DIVISION LEADER
John Oxley's Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos had his rematch with The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Preakness winner POINT GIVEN in the Belmont Stakes on June 9 and Point Given made an emphatic statement, winning the 1½-mile race by 12½ lengths under jockey Gary Stevens.
Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor's Preakness runner-up A P Valentine was again second as Monarchos finished another three-quarters of a length back in third. A P Valentine and Monarchos will be pointed for the August 25 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
Point Given returned to Churchill Downs the day after the Belmont. The Travers is one of several possible targets trainer Bob Baffert has mentioned for the son of Thunder Gulch. He also indicated that the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 15 would be under consideration.
Baffert could have a very strong hand for the Classic with Captain Steve, Point Given and possibly Golden Eagle Farm's GENERAL CHALLENGE, who is training strongly in California for a return to competition.
General Challenge, a five-year-old gelding, finished 10th as the second choice in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Classic at Gulfstream. Winner of the Strub Stakes and Santa Anita Handicap early last year, the California homebred son of General Meeting hasn't run since finishing fourth behind Skimming and Tiznow in the Pacific Classic last summer. Both Captain Steve and Point Given were flown back to California on Sunday morning.
ALBERT THE GREAT, INCLUDE & SKIMMING WIN CLASSIC PREPS
While Michael Cooper and the Cecilia Straub Revocable Trust's Tiznow continues to gallop at Santa Anita toward a summer return to competition at Del Mar, several contenders for this year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont have recently won major events.
Tracy Farmer's four-year-old ALBERT THE GREAT, fourth in the Classic last year, romped to a 3½-length victory in the Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park on June 10 and trainer Nick Zito will now point him for the Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 1.
Albert the Great lost the Pimlico Special on May 12 when beaten narrowly by Robert Meyerhoff's emerging star INCLUDE. Trained by Bud Delp, Include went on to an impressive four-length victory in the Massachusetts Handicap on June 2. The Maryland homebred son of Broad Brush also may start next in the Suburban.
Juddmonte Farms' SKIMMING defeated Tiznow to win the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last summer and appeared to be a leading Classic prospect for trainer Bobby Frankel. However, a last-place finish behind Albert the Great in The Jockey Club Gold Cup in the fall at Belmont completed his campaign for the season.
Frankel may yet get to run the son of Nureyev in the Breeders' Cup this year after his one-length victory in the Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 10. Skimming had finished second in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood in his only previous start this year. He will be targeted for the Hollywood Gold Cup on July.
EPSOM DERBY WINNER GALILEO CLASSIC-BOUND?
Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien, 32, saddled eventual European champion Giant's Causeway to a second-place finish in the thrilling Breeders' Cup Classic last fall and may have another contender for the race at Belmont this year in Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor's Epsom Derby winner GALILEO (IRE).
The impeccably bred three-year-old by Sadler's Wells out of Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea won the Epsom Derby on June 9 by 3½ lengths under jockey Mick Kinane to remain undefeated in four career starts. Kinane rode Magnier and Tabor's Giant's Causeway in the Classic last year.
O'Brien speculated that plans for Galileo may include the Budweiser Irish Derby going 1½ miles at The Curragh on July 1 and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at one mile at Ascot on Sept. 29. "And then maybe the Breeders' Cup Classic. I'd say we'll probably go that route with him," said O'Brien.
Giant's Causeway finished second as the favorite in the Queen Elizabeth II last year in his final start before the Classic. Galileo could become the third Epsom Derby winner to run in the Breeders' Cup following Quest for Fame (GB) and Dr Devious (IRE).
BIENAMADO & QUIET RESOLVE ON COURSE FOR TURF
Trudy McCaffery, John Toffan and Robert Sangster's five-year-old BIENAMADO ranks high among America's best turf performers after winning the Charles Whittingham Handicap on June 10 at Hollywood Park by 1½ lengths under jockey Chris McCarron.
The homebred son of Bien Bien had won the San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita in mid-April for trainer Paco Gonzalez. "Every time he gives you everything," said Gonzalez. "His next start will be the Arlington Million [Aug. 18] and then just one more race before the Breeders' Cup."
Gonzalez trained Toffan and McCaffery's Bien Bien, who finished second, beaten a half-length by eventual Horse of the Year Kotashaan (FR), in the 1993 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita. Bienamado finished fourth in the Arlington Million as the favorite last summer and didn't run again until Dec. 2 when he won the Hollywood Turf Cup.
Sam-Son Farm's six-year-old QUIET RESOLVE, second by a half-length to Eclipse Award-winner Kalanisi (IRE) in the Breeders' Cup Turf last fall, won the King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap on June 10 at Woodbine by 1½ lengths.
Trained by Mark Frostad, the son of Affirmed was voted Canada's Horse of the Year for 2000. In two previous starts this year before the King Edward, he had finished fourth in the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland and fourth in the Dixie Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day.
H. H. The Aga Khan's five-year-old Kalanisi made his second start of the season, in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday, with Godolphin's FANTASTIC LIGHT prevailing. Trained by Michael Stoute, Kalanisi finished third to Fantastic Light in the Tattersall's Gold Cup at The Curragh in Ireland late last month.
Kalanisi was making his first start since the Breeders' Cup while Fantastic Light had finished third in the Japan Cup, won the Hong Kong Cup in December and finished second in the Dubai Sheema Classic in late March prior to the Tattersalls. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Fantastic Light finished fifth behind Kalanisi in the Breeders' Cup.
SPAIN RETURNING TO DEFEND DISTAFF TITLE
The Thoroughbred Corp.'s SPAIN posted a stunning 55-to-1 upset in the Breeders' Cup Distaff to get the Championship at Churchill Downs off to an explosive start. She led a one-two finish for trainer D. Wayne Lukas as Surfside finished second with 1999 Eclipse Award-winner BEAUTIFUL PLEASURE and eventual Eclipse Award-winner RIBOLETTA (BRZ) finishing unplaced.
"She's [Spain] back here galloping and getting ready for her first breeze," said Lukas Saturday from his Santa Anita barn. "She'll be back to defend her title and we'll probably get her there with races at Saratoga and Belmont."
A now four-year-old daughter of Thunder Gulch, Spain was kept busy after the Breeders' Cup and raced two more times in 2000 and four times early this year. Late last year, the $25,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase lost a nose decision in the Falls City Handicap at Churchill three weeks after the Breeders' Cup and won the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita in late December.
Spain defeated Chilukki to win the La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita in early February and then finished second when upset by LAZY SLUSAN in the Santa Margarita Invitational in March. Spain's last start was a fourth-place finish in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 8, in which she was beaten by eight lengths.
"There was nothing wrong with her," said Lukas of the layoff. "She had been going a long time and it was time to give her a break and still have enough time to get her ready for the Breeders' Cup." Spain spent some of her off time at Prince Ahmed Salman's farm in nearby Bradbury, Calif.
John Oxley's Beautiful Pleasure, winner of the 1999 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Gulfstream, is currently at Belmont Park preparing for the Hempstead Handicap, which will be her first start since the 2000 Distaff, in which she finished sixth.
Aaron and Marie Jones' Riboletta was returned to trainer Eduardo Inda's barn at Santa Anita late last month after aborting her foal by Forestry. The Brazilian-bred mare finished seventh as the odds-on choice in the Distaff after posting a string of six consecutive stakes victories. Inda hopes to have her ready for a race by late summer.
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