Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 24-25
$2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (Grade I)
Fillies & Mares, Three-Year-Olds & Up
1 1/8 Miles
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Bear Now (Tr: Reade Baker; ex. rider: Cassie Garcea ) – Bear Now, the star of Danny Dion’s Bear Stables, will be trying the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic for the second time in two years and trainer Reade Baker expects her to fare much better than her eighth place finish in the Monmouth Park slop in 2007.
“Hopefully, she won’t bleed this year,” the conditioner said, explaining why she was beaten by more than 20 lengths behind Ginger Punch and Hystericalady, both of which are back again this year.
“She’s coming up to the race the best she can be,” Baker said.
Carriage Trail (Tr: Shug McGaughey; ex. rider Jennifer Patterson) – Trainer Shug McGaughey sent Carriage Trail to the track Wednesday morning for a 1 1/4m gallop in preparation for a clash with undefeated Zenyatta in Friday’s Ladies’ Classic.
McGaughey trained Personal Ensign who won the race formerly known as the Distaff in 1988 to retire undefeated in 13 career starts.
“One of the things I do remember was when they were loading her into the gate, (announcer) Tom Durkin said, ‘She’s going into the gate and history could be made today,” recalled McGaughey, whose champion filly nosed out Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors at the wire in perhaps the most memorable race in Breeders’ Cup history. “I said, ‘Oh, boy, why did you say that?”
Unlike Personal Ensign, the 5yo Carriage Trail is late bloomer who captured the Spinster at Keeneland in her most recent start.
“I think she’s come into her own big time since Saratoga, and she’s coming off a big-time race,” McGaughey said. “She’s come out here and she’s done excellent. Really and truly, I couldn’t be more pleased. If you asked me if I would like to have another week or two, (I’d say) ‘yes.’ But it’s been three weeks since the Spinster, and she’s done great.”
Carriage Trail will be ridden Kent Desormeaux.
Cocoa Beach/Music Note (Tr: Saeed bin Suroor) – The Godolphin fillies Cocoa Beach and Music Note both cantered 1 3/8m and continue to do well while adjusting to California.
“They both seem to have really come on since their last works,” Rick Mettee, U.S. assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said. “They’re training really well.”
Neither the 4yo Chilean-bred Cocoa Beach nor 3yo Music Note has faced competition as accomplished as the elite group they will oppose on Friday. Mettee said that both he and bin Suroor anticipate performances on Friday that reflect the fillies’ current form.
“There’s a good bit of pace and both fillies are tractable, so Saeed felt that both should get pretty good trips,” Mettee said. “Our only concern with Cocoa Beach is that she’ll settle. In her first race in this country she settled fine, but in the Beldame, she took a pretty good pull in that one-turn mile-and-an-eighth. So our biggest concern, especially off a fast work (5f, 57 4/5 on Saturday) is that she relaxes and doesn’t get too keen early.
“Music Note is pretty tractable,” Mettee continued. “She has one two-turn race – that was the Alabama – and she should be better for having that experience. But she’s been in mostly small fields, and she’s got to run faster than she has to beat these older fillies. She’s had six weeks off since a relatively easy race in the Gazelle, so the timing of this couldn’t be any better for her.
“So, I think both of them are going to run well. How this translates to this track, I don’t know. I tried to watch a few races last weekend and I didn’t get a sense that there’s a bias.
“It looked like a pretty fair track to me. But the riders say you don’t know how they’re going to handle it (the Pro-ride surface) until they get to the far turn. They look like they’re traveling well, but when they really have to make a run, that’s when you find out how they’re going to go over it.”
Ginger Punch (Tr: Robert Frankel) – Ginger Punch, winner of last year’s Distaff, galloped 1 1/4m on the Santa Anita main track Thursday morning as she prepared to defend her title in Friday’s 9f event.
Trainer Robert Frankel noted that the mare’s owner-breeder, Frank Stronach, would be present for Friday’s race. The Hall of Fame conditioner also said that he would be hosting an additional pair of notable owners in Prince Khaled Abdullah of Juddmonte Farms and current L.A. Dodgers manager Joe Torre. The Prince will start three horses in the Breeders’ Cup in Champs Elysees (Classic), First Defence (Sprint) and Ventura (Filly & Mare Sprint), while Torre, who owns pieces of several horses, will be in attendance just to enjoy the racing.
Ginger Punch, who’ll be ridden by her regular jockey Rafael Bejarano, will break from post six in the eight-horse field. She’s the second choice in the morning line at 9-2 behind the undefeated superstar Zenyatta, who is installed at the shortest morning line price of Breeders’ Cup weekend at 3-5.
Hystericalady (Tr: Jerry Hollendorfer) – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer knows that the Ladies’ Classic has come up incredibly tough this year, yet he has a lot of faith in Hystericalady, who has three wins and a second in her last four starts in graded stakes.
“She gets more on her toes as the race comes around,” Hollendorfer said. “She will be ready for the race on Friday.
“She’s really nice to be around and she does everything right. She runs very well every time.”
Hystericalady tuned up for the Ladies’ Classic with a bullet work of 5f in 1:00 over Golden Gate’s synthetic surface on Oct. 17. It was the fastest work of 39 horses at the distance.
Santa Teresita (Tr: Eric Guillot) – Eric Guillot, trainer of Santa Teresita, admits that in most cases, when he enters a horse in a race, he could care less who he is running against.
“Most of the time I don’t care about the competition. I just worry about my horse. But this time, I know,” Guillot said of Santa Teresita’s clash with Zenyatta. “I’ve run against her, and I’ve seen her run a lot.
“People study races like this for weeks. I leave that to Nick (Southern Equine racing manager Hines). I usually don’t even look at them (the past performances) until 20 minutes before, when we’re in the paddock.”
Santa Teresita was most recently third behind fellow Ladies’ Classic contenders Zenyatta and Hystericalady in the Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita.
“I thought we had Hystericalady measured (for second),” Guillot said. “Our filly was coming off a three-month layoff, and she got a little tired the last few jumps. There are three or four other new shooters in the race (Ladies’ Classic), but if you take out Zenyatta, I think we fit well.”
Guillot, who was forced to scratch his Juvenile contender Elusive Bluff on Thursday morning because of a bruised hoof, has competed in the Breeders’ Cup once before, finishing ninth with Salute the Sarge in last year’s Juvenile.
Zenyatta (Tr: John Shirreffs; ex. rider: Steve Willard) – Zenyatta galloped once around the main track at Santa Anita on Thursday under regular exercise rider Steve Willard after being shipped from Hollywood Park on Wednesday.
“Lovely, just like yesterday,” said Willard after the drill by the unbeaten filly, who drew the rail as the prohibitive favorite.
Freddy Wilson, a veteran horseman on the circuit, has been the pony boy accompanying Zenyatta to the track most days since she went into training.
“She brought me out of retirement a couple of years ago,” said Wilson, 68.
“I galloped horses for 55 years--I go back to Ridan--and the only one I can compare to her is Drumtop, a Roger Laurin filly during the 1970s,” Wilson said.
Trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss seek their first Breeders’ Cup victory with the filly.
“The closest the Mosses have come to winning a Breeders’ Cup race was a second-place finish by Sardula, who lost a photo to Phone Chatter in the 1993 Juvenile Fillies here,” said Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, wife of the trainer and racing manager for the Mosses.
Zenyatta, unbeaten in eight starts, seeks to become only the second horse with at least eight victories to start a Breeders’ Cup race unbeaten and leave with an unblemished record. Personal Ensign retired unbeaten with 13 victories after capturing the 1988 Distaff.
Another notable unbeaten Breeders’ Cup winner was Favorite Trick, who stretched his undefeated streak to eight with a victory in the 1997 Juvenile en route to Horse of the Year honors.