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Sep 11, 2003

ATC Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            With the summer basically over we are now on the road to the Breeders’ Cup. With

races every weekend from now until early October that will impact the Breeders Cup we will try

to analyze each race and determine who are the contenders and who are the pretenders. Belmont

opened their first weekend with four Grade I races and each race had Breeders’ Cup implications.

            On Saturday September 6th Belmont hosted three Grade I races. The Grade I Gazelle for three year old

fillies run over one and one eighth miles carried a purse of $250,000. The favorite in the race was LADY TAK, who

was coming off a huge win in the Test Stakes at Saratoga. Sent off at 9-5, LADY TAK, under Jerry Bailey

stalked the pace for ¾’s of a mile before taking over the lead and drawing off to a four length lead heading

into the stretch. As the 1/8th pole got closer LADY TAK began to show her distance limitations and was

tiring badly as she got rundown late by BUY THE SPORT, a 48-1, New York bred by the way of England.

Her only other dirt start produced a win against males over in England but it was a major upset to say the least.

            SPOKEN FUR, who had put it all together at Belmont during the summer was in a perfect position

turning for home but could not go by LADY TAK or hold off BUY THE SPORT. It looks like she may have

tailed off her best form and would be a surprise in the Breeders’ Cup. LADY TAK showed that 1 and 1/8th is

too far and is highly unlikely in Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The connections of BUY THE SPORT had planned

not to run again this year so a start in the Breeders’ Cup is unlikely.

            The next Grade I on the slate was the Man O’ War for three year old and upward run at 1 and 3/8th miles

on the turf. After a lot of rain early in the week the condition for the turf course was yielding. Although the

course was not firm the fractions set by BALTO STAR were very slow. LUNAR SOVEREIGN, who sat back

early in fifth made a huge move on the turn to sweep to the lead opening up three lengths and holding on

by 2 and ¾ lengths. His odds of 10-1 were the second longest on the board. The longest odds on the board

were on SLEW VALLEY who was sent off at 17-1. SLEW VALLEY finished a solid second after racing inside

early on. DENON, the 7-5 favorite made a move on the turn but never made any impact and was an even third.

He has not been very sharp this year and it he would really have to step it up in the Breeders’ Cup to get the

score. Other than those top three no one really did any running.

            The next Grade I on Saturday was not the best betting race but it featured the best horse in the country.

MINESHAFT, who has been unbelievable since moving to the United States late last year, with seven wins and

two seconds from nine starts MINESHAFT has never run a poor race. With only four other horses entered to

oppose him and none with any of the credentials of MINESHAFT, the question became not if he was going to

win but by how much.

            After sitting fourth early on MINESHAFT, jockey Robby Albarado made a quick move while racing

three wide and was the easiest kind of winner scoring by just over four lengths. His time of 1:46 flat was only

three fifths off of SECRETARIAT’S 30 year old track record. It wouldn’t have been close if the jockey had asked

for his best.

            Finally on Sunday September 7th the last Grade I of the weekend was the Garden City Breeders’ Cup

handicap for three year old fillies run at 1 and 1/8th miles on the turf carrying a purse of $250,000. The favorite

in the race was DIMITROVA who was sent off at 3-5. Trained by Dermot Weld this horse was going to be

pointed to the Breeders’ Cup after this race. She was a well beaten second and may need a better performance

next out to earn her trip to Santa Anita. The winner of the race was INDY FIVE HUNDRED, who sat back early and

came with a very strong late run to get up for the win by four lengths. Her connections are also looking ahead to

the Breeders’ Cup. Interestingly enough this was the second Grade I in two days for the owner of Georgica Stable.

They own both INDY FIVE HUNDRED and BUY THE SPORT, who they purchased privately.

            As the prep races for the Breeders’ Cup are run each weekend we will keep you updated as to their progress.


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