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Oct 27, 2006

Through The Binoculars


In case you missed it, some bad news came down from the Breeders' Cup home office this week:

Head-to-head wagering has been scrapped.

A bummer.

A lot of folks, myself included, really enjoyed the head-to-head, which asked players to select one horse to beat one or two others to the finish line.

Whatever the reason for scrapping head-to-head, and I'm sure it was bottom line, it will be missed.

No more Funny Cide vs. Volponi.

But thankfully there will be win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering on all eight Breeders' Cup races (Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs). Rolling pick threes will commence with the first race of the day. The first pick four will link the first four B.C. races, a second pick four will link the last four B.C. races, and the $3 million guaranteed pick six will link the Filly and Mare Turf through the Classic.

Which reminds me. I will have my Breeders' Cup pix up and running on my phone service (1-888 612 2283) available 24 hours in advance, starting Friday afternoon Nov. 3 and running right up until post time.
Click here to join up for the 23rd Breeders' Cup and get all 10 races at Churchill Downs for only $50.

It has been raining for several days in Louisville, and it continues to rain as this is being written on Friday morning. But the long range forecast for Breeders' Cup day is promising.

The Breeders' Cup already has dodged a major bullet.

Can you imagine if the '06 Breeders' Cup - rather than the '07 Breeders' Cup -- was scheduled for Monmouth Park?

At the present time, no horses can be shipped into or out of New Jersey because of an outbreak of equine herpes at Monmouth. As a result, The Meadowlands, which has two weeks to run, is considerably light on horseflesh.

The average field this week at the Big M, since the herpes scare began, is five, and there have been several three and four-horse fields. There was even a match race on Wednesday, which produced a photo finish.

Of course, the situation in New York isn't much better. The financial crisis has reached the point where NYRA is expected to declare bankruptcy sometime next week. Announced crowds of 2,000 at Aqueduct are the norm, and the few folks who do go have a devil of a time finding parking.

Meanwhile, get ready to read reams of copy - all positive -- on Todd Pletcher, although the Toddster won't get to Churchill until Wednesday.

Pletcher, who has shattered every training record this year, will run 18 horses in the eight Breeders' Cup races. That's four horses more than the previous B.C. record of 14 set by mentor D. Wayne Lukas back in '88.

Speaking of Lukas, you'll never guess where he will spend the winter. Or maybe you will.

Lukas, like myself, will winter at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. Fact is he's house-hunting on beautiful Lake Hamilton as we speak.

As for the '06 Breeders' Cup, the scoreboard reads: Pletcher - 18 starters. Lukas - one (Pegasus Wind in the Juvenile).

Tempus does fugit, doesn't it?

The last we looked, Pletcher has:

Octave, Cotton Blossom and Awesome Ashley (also eligible) in the Juvenile Fillies (12:30).

Scat Daddy, Circular Quay and King of the Roxy (conceivably the first three choices) in the Juvenile (1:10).

Wait A While, Honey Ryder and Quiet Royal in the Filly and Mare Turf (1:55).

Friendly Island in the Sprint (2:35).

Nothing (!!!!) in the Mile (3:15).

Fleet Indian, Spun Sugar and Pool Land in the Distaff (3:55).

English Channel, Go Deputy and Icy Atlantic in the Turf (4:35).

And Lawyer Ron and Flower Alley (also eligible) in the Classic (5:20).

All times are Eastern.

Flower Alley is the lone "also" in the Classic, a fact which ruffles the Toddster's feathers, but the '05 Travers winner will get in because Discreet Cat will scratch.

Just to let 'em know he means business, Pletcher ran three horses on Thursday at Keeneland, and got two wins and a second.

Keeneland closes Saturday and Churchill Downs opens on Sunday with a super card featuring a pair of six-figure Grade Threes for 2-year-olds - the Iroquois for the boys, and the Pocahontas for the girls. The Iroquois, to be run as the eighth race, will kick off a guaranteed $100,000 pick four, and the Pocahontas will go as race 10 as the third leg.

I have a definite opinion on these races...I like the card very much, and think we have an excellent chance of hitting the $100,000 Pick-4. Why not win along with me on Sunday, October 29. It costs just $35. Click Here to sign up online or call 1-888-612-2283 Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, here's a capsule look at the four races -

Race 8 (The $100,000 Iroquois)

A month back, Officer Rocket (9-10) dead-heated Got the Last Laugh (20-1) in the Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park while conceding two pounds. Got the Last Laugh is in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but trainer Holthus is running Officer Rocket in this spot, for which he will be favored.

Owner Fletcher is bringing half of Little Rock with him for the race, so if Officer Rocket wins, expect a Kentucky Derby-size turnout for the picture.

Tiz Wonderful, a $475,000 son of two-time B.C. Classic winner Tiznow, was awesome winning first pop at Saratoga. And his 99 Beyer number dwarfs the competition in the Iroquois.

And how 'bout a Tale of the Cat exacta!

Starbase is a $350,000 colt from D. Wayne, and What A Tale is a $750,000 number from Biancone.

Passport won the Cradle in his only start on a traditional dirt course.

Incriminate, a $1.5 million Unbridled's Song colt from the sheiks, blew the break, and settled for fourth at 9-5 in the Belmont Futurity.

Jockey Gomez chooses Tiz Wonderful over Incriminate.

Race 9 ($50,000 allowance/grass)

Zofzig, a $950,000 Danzig filly from Dale Romans, aired from post 12 debuting on the Keeneland polytrack. Her dam is Zoftig.

Ochre, from trainer Pletcher, won her debut from post nine on the Saratoga lawn, and has the same post here.

Lucky Approval had a bad trip for sixth in the Kentucky Cup, switches to Bejarano, and hails from the red-hot Wiggins barn.

Need to ask why Jamie's Mambo is in this race. She has been beaten a combined 53 lengths in three starts at 47-1, 78-1 and 99-1.

Race 10 (The $100,000 Pocahontas)

Cohiba Miss, Mistical Plan and Baroness Thatcher all are on the waiting list for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, all are coming off huge wins, and all come from top trainers - Flint, O'Neill and Romans, respectively.

Guidry, who rides Officer Rocket in the Iroquois, has a shot at a stakes double with Baroness Thatcher, but the Johannesburg filly must overcome the 11-hole.

Gomez chooses Change Up, seventh at odds-on in the Arlington Lassie, over Baroness Thatcher - and that's before the posts were drawn.

Lukas may have the filly to catch - Expertise, a $400,000 Hennessy filly from the Bob Lewis heirs.

Race 11 ($48,000 maiden-special)

Off his New York form (three starts, three seconds, two at odds-on), Most Distinguished will be a short price in a full field. Prado stays in New York, so trainer Zito taps Bejarano to ride the $500,000 Dixie Union colt.

Meritocracy, a Grand Slam from the Toddster, had a horror trip behind Most Distinguished at Saratoga.

Blackfoot Trail, a Menifee from Biancone/Leparoux, is blink ers off, polytrack off, and cuts back in distance from promising debut.

Five Star Dawn, Glamour Guy and Morada Key exit the same Keeneland race.

Glamour Guy goes from post 12 to post one.

Keep an eye out for the conditions. It might still be raining in Louisville on Sunday.

Meanwhile, I have learned (from reading Daily Racing Form) that the sheiks will stand Rockport Harbor for $20,000 next spring.

Should I not get a season?

Finally, our sympathy to the family of Tom Wagoner.

Wagoner, the long-time starter at Churchill (where he started 30 Kentucky Derbys) and Oaklawn, passed this week at 75 in Diana, Tex., after a long illness.

I would think that the passing of Tom Wagoner, the very best at what he did, deserves more than a graph on page 20 in the Form.

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