Wednesday, October 26, 2005 Contact: Breeders’ Cup Notes Team (516) 328-6017
SAINT LIAM, ROCK HARD TEN & STARCRAFT CLASH IN CLASSIC; UNDEFEATED LOST IN THE FOG, SHAKESPEARE & FIRST SAMURAI STAR IN BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS
Horse of the Year honors and Eclipse Awards in all divisions will be on the line Saturday at Belmont Park in the eight races of the 22nd Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, worth total purses and awards of $15,755,000.
SAINT LIAM, ROCK HARD TEN, BORRGEO and STARCRAFT (NZ) will receive the most attention in the $4,680,000 million Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge, the climax of the afternoon’s races, which will be telecast live by NBC Sports (1:00-6:00 p.m. ET) as storied Belmont celebrates its 100th anniversary.
A total of 101 horses representing the best from North America and Europe have been entered, including four defending Breeders’ Cup champions from the 2004 edition at Lone Star Park last fall—ASHADO (Distaff), SINGLETARY, (Mile), OUIJA BOARD (GB) (FIilly & Mare Turf) and BETTER TALK NOW (Turf).
Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, Jr.’s 5-year-old Saint Liam, romping winner of the Woodward Stakes here on Sept. 10, looms the probable favorite in the 1 ¼ miles Classic with jockey Jerry Bailey aboard for trainer Richard Dutrow, Jr., facing 13 rival 3-year-olds and up. The son of Saint Ballado drew post 13.
Mercedes Stable and Madeleine Pickens’ 4-year-old ROCK HARD TEN invades from California for trainer Richard Mandella after an impressive victory in the Goodwood Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Oct. 1 in his first start since capturing the Santa Anita Handicap in early March. Jockey Gary Stevens retains the mount.
An imposing dark bay son of Kris S, Rock Hard Ten was sidelined for the spring and summer with an assortment of nagging physical ailments, but will attempt emulate the accomplishments of Mandella-trained Pleasantly Perfect, winner of the 2003 Classic at Santa Anita with same schedule of races that season.
Jon Kelly, Brad Scott and partners’ 4-year-old Borrego is the ‘now’ horse in the field after a hard-fought victory in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August and a dominating performance to capture the Jockey Club Gold Cup by 4 ½ lengths over the course and distance on Oct. 1. Jockey Garrett Gomez gets a return call for trainer and co-owner Beau Greely.
In a bold and sporting challenge, The Australian Syndicate’s 5-year-old New Zealand-bred Starcraft will make his North American and main track debut in the Classic with jockey Pat Valenzuela getting the call for English trainer Luca Cumani.
A major player at home in New Zealand and Australia, Starcraft was sent to Cumani for a European campaign this year and the son of Soviet Star comes into the Classic after smashing victories in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Newmarket, victories likely to earn him European champion miler honors.
Starlight Stable, Paul Saylor and partners’ 4-year-old filly Ashado bids for a repeat victory in the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff as she closes out a brilliant career for trainer Todd Pletcher. The daughter of Saint Ballado was acclaimed Eclipse champion 3-year-old filly as she gave her trainer his first Breeders’ Cup victory.
Regular rider John Velazquez will be aboard Ashado leaving post position 3 and a victory or a second-place finish would push her earnings past Azeri’s record total of $4,079,820. Ashado won the Beldame Stakes over the course and 1 1/8 miles distance of the Distaff in her last start.
Stewart Madison’s Louisiana homebred HAPPY TICKET, second by a half-length behind Ashado in the Beldame and 10-for-12 lifetime, made a bold run at the champion in that race and poses a solid threat in their second meeting. The daughter of Anet will be ridden by Victor Espinoza for trainer Andrew Leggio, Jr.
Godolphin’s 4-year-old filly STELLAR JAYNE finished third behind Ashado in the Distaff last year for trainer D. Wayne Lukas, and will be a solid contender for Godolphin, who purchased the daughter of Wild Rush at the Keeneland November sales last fall after the Breeders’ Cup. She has won her only two starts this year, both at Belmont.
Dell Ridge Farm and William Schettine’s homebred 4-year-old Shakespeare has won all five of his starts for trainer Bill Mott and faces his biggest challenge yet in a world class field of 13 3-year-olds and up drawn for the $2,280,000 John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf at 1 ½ miles on turf. Jerry Bailey has the mount out of post 7.
Shakespeare is a son of Theatrical, winner of the 1987 Turf for Mott, and is lightly raced during a career interrupted for 16 months by a knee fracture suffered early in his 3-year-old campaign. He was a game winner of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic over the course and distance of Saturday’s race.
Bushwood Stable’s 6-year-old gelding Better Talk Now posted a 28-to-1 upset to capture the Turf at Lone Star last year, but will likely be no better than third choice Saturday, despite major victories in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park and Man o’ War Stakes here last out on Sept. 10. Trained by Graham Motion, the son of Talkin Man drew post 4.
Niarchos Family’s 2004 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero BAGO (FR), and H H The Aga Khan’s 4-year-old AZAMOUR (IRE) winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at York and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Newbury, lead a powerful team of European raiders in the Turf.
TNT Stud’s 5-year-old LEROIDESANIMAUX (BRZ) takes an eight-race win streak going back two seasons into the $2,025,000 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile as the solid favorite at 7-to-5 with John Velazquez aboard, breaking from post 11 in the field of 12 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the turf.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, who won the Classic last year with Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, ‘Leroy’ has won all three of his previous starts this year, most recently the Atto Mile at Woodbine by 7 ¾ lengths. The chestnut son of Candy Stripes won the Frank Kilroe Handicap at Santa Anita in March and the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga in his only other outings during a light campaign.
Little Red Feather Feather Racing’s 5-year-old Singletary won the Mile at Lone Star at 17-to-1 and is listed at 8-to-1 on the morning line for Saturday’s renewal. Trained by Don Chatlos, Jr., the son of Sultry Sun has won two of five starts during a spotty season this year, but appeared to be hitting top form winning the Oak Tree Breeders’ Cup Mile on Oct. 8 at Santa Anita
Harry Aleo’s undefeated 3-year-old Lost in the Fog bids for his 11th victory as the even-money favorite in the $1,060,000 TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint going six furlongs as one of America’s most popular horses this year. The Florida-bred son of Lost Soldier is making his seventh cross country trip from trainer Greg Gilchrist’s Golden Gate Fields headquarters near San Francisco.
Jockey Russell Baze has been along for the ride in all but one of Lost in the Fog’s victorious races, which includes three trips to Florida to win stakes at Gulfstream Park and Calder this year and the Bay Shore at Aqueduct, Riva Ridge Breeders’ Cup here and King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga in August.
Lost in the Fog is a contender for Horse of the Year honors, particularly if the favorite in the Classic fails to fire, but his 11 rival 3-year-olds and up include a number of highly accomplished speedsters, including David Bloom’s TASTE OF PARADISE, winner of the Vosburgh Stakes here on Oct. 1.
Lord Derby’s wonderful 4-year-old filly Ouija Board will be the 5-to-2 favorite to defend her title in the $1,060,000 Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf, which attracted a very strong field of 14. Jerry Bailey will be aboard the daughter of Cape Cross for the first time as they break from post 13 in the 1 ¼ miles turf test.
Trainer Ed Dunlop guided Ouija Board through a sensational European championship campaign, highlighted by victories in the English and Irish Oaks and a strong third behind Bago in the Arc last year before her victory at Lone Star, a performance that earned her an Eclipse Award for her lone American start.
Ouija Board has run only twice this year and some will question whether she is up to the task in a field that includes Donald A. Adams’ FILM MAKER and Phillips Racing’s WONDER AGAIN, second and third behind her at Lone Star last fall; and Michael Bello’s charismatic MEGAHERTZ (GB), a neck short of being perfect in five starts this year for trainer Bobby Frankel.
Bruce Lunsford and Lansford Robbins’ III’s FIRST SAMURAI has won first four starts for trainer Frank Brothers and was made the 8-to-5favorite in a full field of 14 2-year-olds entered in the $1,590,000 Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles under Jerry Bailey.
First Samurai won the one-mile Champagne Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths over a ‘sloppy’ track here on Oct. 8 over Darley Stable’s HENNY HUGHES, who will try him again Saturday. Robert Sheppard’s SORCERER’S STONE also is undefeated in three starts for trainer Pat Byrne, who guided Favorite Trick through an unbeaten campaign winning the Juvenile at Hollywood Park in 1997 and was voted Horse of the Year.
Bob and Beverly Lewis’ FOLKLORE and Michael Tabor and Mrs. Susan Magnier’s ADIEU will vie for the favorite’s role in the $1,060,000 Alberto VO5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles, the first Breeders’ Cup race on the card.
Folklore could give trainer D. Wayne Lukas a remarkable fifth victory in the Juvenile Fillies. The daughter of two-time Classic winner Tiznow ran away in the stretch to win the seven-furlong Matron Stakes here on Sept. 17 by 14 lengths in her last start. Adieu won the Spinaway at Saratoga for trainer Todd Pletcher and the Frizette Stakes here on Oct. 8.