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Classic Notes - 31 Oct

LOUISVILLE, KY - Following is the daily report on the horses running in the Breeders' Cup Classic, the eighth race of the Breeders' Cup Championship to be run Saturday, Nov 4, at Churchill Downs.

Fusaichi Pegasus - The Kentucky Derby winner "trotted about a mile" Tuesday at 6:15 a.m. together with War Chant, according to trainer Neil Drysdale, and will gallop up to the Classic.

The $4-million race will be the second specific goal of the talented 3yo colt's career. "We knew he had this ability," said Drysdale, recognizing the $4-million yearling purchase's prowess from early on. "He was aimed at the Kentucky Derby. The next goal was the Breeders' Cup."

Drysdale is happy with the way Fusaichi Pegasus is coming up to the race but is not overconfident. "He's a very athletic clean-winded horse," said Drysdale. "But, on paper, this looks like a severe test. I'm always nervous about everything. If you have been around long enough, you know the improbable can happen. I don't take anything for granted."

Drysdale said he fully understood the owners' decision to retire the horse to stud next year. "It was an economic necessity," said Drysdale of the decision to abbreviate the colt's career.

He likened the colt's situation to that of A.P. Indy, the Drysdale-trained Horse of the Year as a 3yo in 1992. "After A.P. Indy won the Breeders' Cup Classic, how much more are you going to do?" said Drysdale.

Manuel Flores is the groom for Fusaichi Pegasus.

Agol Lack - Prince Sultan al Kabeer's Agol Lack, first on the preference list for the Breeders' Cup Classic, was found to be running a temperature Tuesday morning and will not participate in Saturday's $4 million race, according to trainer Andre Fabre's wife, Elizabeth. "He is a non-runner," she said.

Albert The Great - It was an easy morning for the 3yo son of 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin, as he walked trainer Nick Zito's shedrow. And that was just what Zito wanted for his Classic runner.

"Everything I'm doing I'm doing to avoid the bounce," Zito said. "Let's look at the bounce as it applies to 'Albert.' He broke his maiden in April, and it took him four races to do that. Then, in his first stakes start--his first, mind you--he faces the Preakness winner (Red Bullet) the Belmont winner (Commendable) and More Than Ready and beats them (Belmont's Dwyer, July 9). So then, he goes in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, and to me, that was his bounce.

"He came back and ran a great race in the Travers, which was the the race of the summer if not the year, and he gets bumped on the first turn. He loses by a head to Unshaded, and that bump was the difference. We learned from the Jerome, and as a result, he comes back at Belmont to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1:59, which is the fastest 1 1/4 miles by a 3yo ever.

"He's had four races since August, and I can't say enough about him. He has to win on Saturday for it to happen, but if he does, he is without question the 3yo champion."

Jorge Chavez, the 1999 Eclipse winner, has the mount in the Classic on Albert The Great, who worked 5 furlongs in 1:05 4/5 here on Monday morning.

Captain Steve - Captain Steve is scheduled to arrive Tuesday afternoon from Santa Anita.

Cat Thief - Overbrook Farm's Cat Thief walked the shedrow Tuesday morning, a day after working 5 furlongs in 59 1/5 in his final major preparation for Saturday's $4 million Classic.

Cat Thief was a surprise winner of last year's Classic at odds of 19-1, and the price Saturday figures to be in the same range.

"He can win it. He is doing well, and that is all you can really ask," trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "He likes this place. He has been here since Sept. 10 and he likes cooler weather."

Cat Thief comes into the Classic off one of the poorest outings of his 29-race career, a last-place finish in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway on Sept. 16.

"Throw that race completely out," Lukas said. "He struggled with the track and displaced (his palate) that day."

Cat Thief has won only four of those 29 races, but his last 24 have been in Grade I or II events en route to earning nearly $4 million. His last victory was the 1999 Classic.

"He is what he is, a hard-knocking horse that keeps the rest of the division honest," Lukas said. "You go through the barns here, and there are guys who would die for a horse that has made almost $4 million and runs 1-2-3 almost every time you hook him up with the best horses in the world. I'd like to have 10 more like him. I'm going to miss him."

Pat Day will ride Cat Thief in the Classic, the colt's final race.

Dust On the Bottle - Sharon Hild's homebred Classic hopeful galloped 1 3/8 miles after the renovation break Tuesday morning with exercise rider Jack Hild up.

Dust On the Bottle is scheduled to breeze a half-mile after the break Wednesday. Tim Doocy will ride Saturday. Trainer Glenn Hild is expected in Louisville on Friday.

Euchre - Trainer Bobby Frankel's prospect for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic walked the shedrow this morning as he moved another step closer to the big, $4 million race.

The horse, a 4yo son of Personal Flag, has been winless since a victory in Hollywood Park's Bel Air Handicap at Hollywood Park, comes to the race from a third-place finish in Santa Anita's Goodwood Handicap behind fellow Classic prospects Tiznow and Captain Steve, respectively.

Euchre will have the saddle services of David Flores, his rider for the past two outings.

Gander - The 4yo New York-bred galloped a mile and a half today and will continue to do so the remainder of the week in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday. Gander's trainer, John Terranova, has arrived at Churchill Downs, joining his wife and assistant, Tonja, who has been here for a week with the colt and stablemate, Shadow Caster, contender for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"They're both ready," said Tonja this morning of the two, "and they'll both gallop up to the race."

In reference to The Jockey Club Gold Cup, Gander's last race, Tonja said, "Albert The Great [the winner] ran a tremendous race, the race of his life, so finishing second to him says something. That race was the first time we put blinkers on him [Gander] and it really helped him out. In the Woodward and the race at Saratoga [Saratoga Breeders' Cup Hcp.], turning for home he was acting like he was finishing up, but at Saratoga, Jerry [jockey Bailey] thought he still had more left in him. So before the Gold Cup, we breezed him with blinkers and noticed a big change."

That 5-furlong breeze was a bullet work at Belmont that day. "We were kind of afraid to change anything with him, but we're glad we did," Tonja said.

Also on hand at the barn today was the colts' co-owner Michael Gatsas who, along with his partner and brother Theodore, is thrilled to be a part of this year's championship.

"This is a lot of fun for us. We've never even been to Churchill Downs before...we never wanted to come without something running," Gatsas said. "We're lucky we picked them [the Terranovas]," he said in reference to sending the couple several of their best horses in June from their base in New England. "We have 14 horses in training now, most of them in New York with John and Tonja. We've kept a few at Suffolk with our other trainer, Charlie Assimakopoulos."

Giant's Causeway - Arrives Tuesday afternoon from Ireland.

Golden Missile - The Pimlico Special winner galloped 1 1/2 miles on the main track under exercise rider Keith Ricks as he continues to prep for the Classic.The 5yo son of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy is handling Churchill Downs extremely well, according to trainer Joe Orseno.

"He has always liked it here, and he is doing very, very well," Orseno said. "He has really come back for us. After the Whitney ( a fifth-place finish on Aug. 6), we discovered a foot problem. He came back to run two strong races, but he still wasn't himself. I think he is all the way back and he's healthy. I'm looking for him to run a big race."

Orseno will go with Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey in the Classic and said a change of strategy is likely.

"He's had some hard races, and a lot of times, he is pressing on the lead," Orseno said. "We've got Bailey on him now, and I think we'll have him take him back a little so he can target other horses. I am confident that he is going to run a big race, but this is a very talented field of horses. And it is all proven talent; they have all won big races in their careers."

Guided Tour - The 4yo gelded son of Hansel walked trainer Niall O'Callaghan's shedrow this morning as he continued preparation for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic.

O'Callaghan termed the horse ready to run and the trainer is hopeful he'll make the field. Guided Tour is a strong possibility to get into the race because North East Bound is most likely to go into the Breeders' Cup Turf, which will leave a post position open to O'Callaghan's trainee.

Jockey Larry Melancon, a veteran of many years of riding over the Churchill Downs oval, will ride on Saturday, just as he did in the horse's most recent outing, a second-place finish in the Hawthorne Gold Cup on Oct. 7.

Jadada - Although it appears not likely for Jadada to get into the Classic field, he galloped 1 1/2 miles over the Churchill Downs strip this morning. Trainer Mitch Shirota, though holding out slim hope to get in the race, said this morning that he might work his horse on the turf Wednesday in a move to prepare him for Sunday's River City Handicap at Churchill.

Francisco Torres will ride in whichever race the horse gets in.

Lemon Drop Kid - Lemon Drop Kid has six days left under the guidance of F.S. "Scotty" Schulhofer.

Laddie Dance, owner of the colt with his wife, Jeanne Vance, explained that "Sunday morning 'Scotty' loses this horse for good.

"Scotty's had this colt all the time, but he goes to stud the next morning after the race. Sometimes people will 'let a horse down' at the racetrack before they even go to stud, but we decided it is quieter at Lane's End Farm than it is here. Scotty has to ship out anyway, so he'll go 90 miles to Lane's End."

Lemon Drop Kid was syndicated for stud at $30 million with a provision that if he becomes Horse of the Year, the syndication value would go to $40 million. "I think he's got a good shot," Schulhofer said. "I hope, anyway."

Dance said that Lemon Drop Kid will serve 80 mares next year at $100,000 each. "He's got a lot of company over at Lane's End," Dance said. "He'll be one of 24 studs."

George Martens was aboard Lemon Drop Kid on Tuesday morning for a two-mile gallop.

North East Bound - Jogged one mile.

Pine Dance - The Dermot Weld-trained colt, who ran just last Friday night when third in the Pegasus Handicap at The Meadowlands, walked under the shedrow in Barn 17 Tuesday morning.

Bobby Dolan, who has been traveling with Pine Dance through four starts in the U.S. since July, said the colt is slated to go to the track again tomorrow.

"He doesn't need much," Dolan said. "He'll canter Wednesday, then on Thursday, Pat Smullen will be here to gallop him and get a feel for the track."

Smullen rode Pine Dance to two victories in Ireland, but this is the first time the Irish jockey will be aboard for a main track start in the U.S. Pine Dance has won the American Derby and Pennsylvania Derby on the dirt in the last three months.

Trainer Dermot Weld is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Friday.

Tiznow - For a horse about to make his third major start in five weeks, the 3yo colt was not at any loss for alertness Tuesday morning.

Just settled into his stall in Barn 17 after being flown in from California Monday, Tiznow continuously grabbed the forearm of trainer Jay Robbins. "That's the way he usually acts," said Robbins calmly. Early in the morning, he decided to let groom Carlos Aguilar walk Tiznow around shedrow as an outlet for his energy. Still full of life, Tiznow walked under tack for another half hour under exercise rider Ramon Arciga before he went to the track and jogged once around it.

"He's going to school this afternoon in the paddock," said Robbins, who will gallop the full brother to 1999 Classic runner-up Budroyale up to the race. He won the Super Derby at Louisiana Derby Sept. 30 and the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita Oct. 15 in his last two starts. "Budroyale was much quieter as a 2yo," said Robbins, who was his first trainer. "This horse is much more massive physically."

Vision and Verse - Under exercise rider Kenny McCarthy, the 4yo colt worked 5 furlongs in 1:00 3/5 Tuesday morning, a move that trainer Bill Mott deemed "super."

"We gave him a lead horse and he swallowed the lead horse approaching the quarter pole," said Mott. "We got him coming home in 23 3/5. This is the best he's worked since we brought him back [from a 4-month layoff]. His last work at Belmont Park he went the last two furlongs in 22 3/5 which is a good sign because he's lazy."

Vision and Verse, who earlier this year won an allowance race and finished fourth in the Massachusetts Handicap, returned to the races on Oct. 7 and finished eighth as the favorite in the Meadowlands Cup.

"That race was less than impressive," said Mott. "We ran him back in six or seven days time because he didn't do much. I felt he had better in him than in New Jersey, and he did."

In his subsequent start, Vision and Verse finished third to Albert the Great in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont.

"That was a useful, workmanlike race," said Mott. "He was no match for the winner but it was a good outing."

Good enough to convince Mott that Vision and Verse belonged in the Classic. "We'd like to have the biggest payday we can get," said Mott. "I have a lot of respect for Fusaichi Pegasus. But if we run a good race, and some of the others don't have such a good day, well, you don't have to win to have a good payday."

"He may not be a superstar, but he is a horse who's coming around at the right time," Mott added.

Vision and Verse, along with the other seven of Mott's Breeders' Cup hopefuls, will gallop up to the Breeders' Cup and school in the paddock later this week, probably Thursday.

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