$1 Million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
Three-Year-Olds and Up
1 Mile & 70 Yards
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Corinthian – The Metropolitan Mile hero got acquainted with his surroundings at Monmouth Park where he stood in the gate before galloping a mile under Kelvin Pahal Wednesday morning. Trainer James Jerkens also scheduled a visit to the paddock before the afternoon’s live racing card.
Corinthian is looking to rebound in the inaugural Dirt Mile from a distant fourth-place finish behind Lawyer Ron in the Woodward at Saratoga. Although he may be better suited to a mile distance than the 1 1/8m of the Woodward, the son of Pulpit may also benefit from a change of scenery.
“His workouts were kind of sluggish up there (at Saratoga),” said Jerkens, whose colt is winless in two starts at Saratoga. “Thankfully, his workouts have been very good lately.”
Discreet Cat – Discreet Cat, the 2-1 morning line favorite in Friday’s inaugural Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, left Belmont Park on a van bound for Monmouth Park this morning shortly before 8 a.m.
Discreet Cat drew the rail in the nine-horse Dirt Mile.
“I thought it was a good draw for him,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “I’m very happy with an inside draw in a two-turn race. I spoke to Saeed and he was happy with it too. We should be able to pull a pretty good trip. I think Gottcha Gold will be in front, High Finance will be close on the stretchout, and depending how Discreet Cat handles the bend, will be stalking the lead.”
Discreet Cat will be making his second start off a six-month layoff – prompted by a severe throat abscess – in the Dirt Mile. He is looking to improve off his third-place finish, beaten six lengths, in Belmont’s Vosburgh Sept. 30.
“He’s really come on since the Vosburgh,” Mettee said. “It was either run there or give him a good work every seven days. I’m glad we ran. The race has really helped him.”
Trainer bin Suroor is traveling to Monmouth Thursday.
Forefathers – The weekend future of this son of Gone West remained unresolved after the 3yo colt and his stablemates became acquainted with the Monmouth paddock and galloped once around the track Wednesday.
“The final discussion hasn’t been had (with owner Ahmed Zayat),” said trainer Bill Mott, whose options include the Sprint and the Dirt Mile. “I believe everybody is leaning toward the Sprint, but that’s not final. Usually it overfills, so I’m surprised it only drew 11.”
Mott did not have Forefathers as a 2 yo or early in his sophomore season. The colt appeared to be a Triple Crown prospect for Nick Zito after running second in the Swale in February, but two poor outings preceded a layoff of more than five months and a move to Mott’s barn. He has run second twice since Sept. 8, once at 1m in the Jerome and once at 6f in the Bergen County.
“Obviously, we’ve got time. I don’t think there’s any rush to make a decision,” Mott said. “We can see what the track condition is and all the other factors that enter into the race.”
Gottcha Gold – One of the popular local horses to run in this year’s Breeders’ Cup, Gottcha Gold galloped at Monmouth Park on Wednesday. He has been installed at 8-1 on the morning line. The winner of five races at Monmouth Park, he is one of only three horses in the Dirt Mile with experience over this track. His last race was an impressive victory in the Iselin on Aug. 18.
Trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. said of the more than two months off, “The layoff doesn’t concern me. The connections and I think it’s better to have a fresh horse. He doesn’t need to have his races spaced three weeks apart; this was part of the plan.
“We’re really happy that the Breeders’ Cup is at Monmouth Park for the first time this year…for this race to be at home, where he turned in his last two big races.”
Prior to the Iselin, Gottcha Gold defeated Lawyer Ron, morning line favorite in the Classic, in the Salvator Mile. The winning margin was just a neck, but it was a victory nonetheless.
“As the race (Salvator Mile) was unfolding I was confident at the half-mile pole,” said Plesa. “Lawyer Ron came running at the end and our horse held on to win. A lot of people must have thought Gottcha Gold was a fluke in that race, getting an easy lead like that and holding on.
“I think his last race was most impressive, the way he ding-donged down the backstretch with that other horse and dispensed of him at the three-eighths pole and still had enough to win like he did (4 ½-length victory). It was an eye-opening race and showed that he didn’t have to be on the lead.”
Gottcha Gold will break from post six under C.C. “Chuck” Lopez, a regular on the New Jersey circuit who will be riding in his first Breeders’ Cup race on Friday.
High Finance – The 4 yo colt galloped 2m under exercise rider Luis Perlaza at Aqueduct Wednesday morning before boarding a van bound for Monmouth Park.
The Rick Violette-trained colt will be looking to rebound from an eighth-place finish as favorite in the Forego at Saratoga.
“I still don’t know what happened. Occasionally, horses do this to you,” said Violette, whose colt had previously won the 7f Tom Fool Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park by nearly three lengths.
Violette is confident that the mile distance will suit High Finance in the inaugural Dirt Mile.
“I really think that a mile might be his best distance,” said the New York-based trainer, whose colt registered a career-best speed figure while winning a mile allowance prior to the Tom Fool.
Lewis Michael – Trainer Wayne Catalano was pleased with Lewis Michael’s draw of post position two for Friday’s Dirt Mile, but he is unsure how his 4yo son of Rahy will handle the racing surface should it come up less than fast.
“He’s fast enough to get good position into the first turn, and we’ll take our chances from there,” Catalano said. “As far as handling an off track, your guess is as good as mine. He ran good at Fairmount last summer (wide third over a “good” track in the St. Louis Derby), but he’s never been out there when it’s really sloppy.”
Lewis Michael, a full brother to last year’s Juvenile Filly champ Dreaming of Anna, finished 11th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but Catalano believes he’s a much better horse now than he was then.
“We call him our big Baby Huey,” Catalano said. “He’s still learning how to run and his best races should be ahead of him.”
Lewis Michael was highly impressive in winning the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park by nearly five lengths, but as a slight favorite, he checked in a somewhat disappointing fourth, beaten less than two lengths by Classic contender Tiago in the Goodwood at Santa Anita last out.
“We didn’t get the trip we wanted,” Catalano said. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Park Avenue Ball – Park Avenue Ball jogged once around the track on Wednesday morning and trainer Jim Ryerson remained happy with the horse’s progress and confident about his chances on his home track after he clocked his 4f work in 47 under exercise rider Melvin Perez on Tuesday morning.
“This is a good horse and he’s getting better,” Ryerson said. “He was a good horse at two, he was a better horse at three, he was a better and stronger horse at four, and at five, he probably should have won a Graded stakes already.”
Ryerson certainly knows about good horses. He did a masterful job with Unbridled’s Song, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 1995 even though the colt was plagued by chronic problems with his feet.
“When you do this for a living, there are a lot of guys who never get a chance to compete in, let alone win, a Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “It’s difficult to get a good horse, and then it’s difficult to keep a horse good.
Unbridled’s Song was a great horse. Even with his feet the way they were, he was a real good horse and I wanted him to go down (in history) as a real good horse. So winning the Breeders’ Cup with him was special, and winning again right here at home with Park Avenue Ball would mean an awful lot.”
Wanderin Boy – After making the van trip from Saratoga to Monmouth Park Tuesday afternoon, the 6yo was given an easy assignment Wednesday morning – 45 minutes of walking the shedrow under tack.
Jockey Javier Castellano will ride Wanderin Boy for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito. Wanderin Boy drew post three in the field of nine and is 8-1 on the morning line.
Xchanger – Trainer Mark Shuman attributes the 3yo son of Exchange Rate’s recent improvement to throat surgery that was performed in August.
“He displaced his soft palate in the Haskell, and much like (Sprint contender) Talent Search, the surgery has really helped him,” Shuman said.
Following the surgery, the Dirt Mile contender finished second at odds of 22-1 in the Pennsylvania Derby, beaten only a neck to Timber Reserve. He followed up with another heartbreaking loss in the Meadowlands Cup, finishing third while beaten only a half-length by Classic contender Diamond Stripes.
Xchanger drew the extreme outside post nine for Friday’s Dirt Mile, which is “certainly not ideal” to Shuman.
“The post is out of our control,” he said. “Our goal is to save some ground, and that’s obviously a lot harder to do from out there (nine-post). “We wouldn’t mind if it kept raining though. When it’s wet, he just skips across it.”