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Sep 19, 2003

Racing Today

By: John Piesen

Is it possible that Candy Ride is scaring off the opposition?

Sure looks that way.

An Argentine import, the unbeaten Candy Ride turned in arguably the most impressive

performance of the season when he won the Pacific Classic a month back at Del Mar to

stretch his record to 4-for-4.

It appears that Candy Ride’s owners -- diet gurus Sidney and Jenny Craig – will put up the

$800,000 to nominate the 4-year-old to the Breeders’ Cup Classic Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. In

fact, the horse already is the clear-cut favorite in the futures.

Now the question becomes: who wants to run against Candy Ride?

Not Perfect Drift.

Trainer Murray Johnson said moments after Perfect Drift whacked Congaree in the Kentucky

Cup Classic last Saturday at Turfway that he has no intention of running the horse in the

B.C. Classic. Right now, the Hawthorne Gold Cup is his preference.

Not Funny Cide.

“I’d like to get a race for Funny Cide the first week of October, and then maybe the Cigar

Mile,” says trainer Barclay Tagg. “I’d like to win the 3-year-old championship with Funny Cide.

If he wins those two races, he’d have a great shot at it.”

Hey, if Funny Cide wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he’s not only 3-year-old champion. He’s

Horse of the Year. But Tagg is a realist. What chance would Funny Cide have against Candy Ride?

Not Mineshaft.

You read right. Although most racing folks presume that Mineshaft is heading for the Breeders’

Cup Classic, I’m hearing some serious buzz on the Belmont Park backstretch that Mineshaft

won’t be heading west.

There’s nothing wrong with Mineshaft. He came out of the Woodward in good shape, and there

is every reason to suspect he’ll tack on the Jockey Club Gold Cup a week from Saturday at

Belmont. If so, that will be the fifth Grade 1 this year for Mineshaft, stretch his 2003 record to

7-2-0 from nine starts, and keep him on top in the weekly NTRA poll.

No one in Mineshaft’s camp would admit it, but a Gold Cup victory would wrap up Horse of the

Year for him without the burden of going to the Breeders’ Cup. If he should go to the

Breeders’ Cup, and get knocked off by Candy Ride, then Candy Ride, despite his lesser credentials

is hands down Horse of the Year.

The bottom line is: you need to be very careful before betting Mineshaft in the Breeders’ Cup


Another top horse not going to the Breeders’ Cup is Wild Spirit.

If you saw Wild Spirit win the Ruffian by a pole last Saturday at Belmont, you have to give her a

chance against Azeri in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, has won 11 straight races, and will no doubt carry a 12-race

streak into the B.C. Distaff. But for all her brilliance, Azeri has never beaten a mare as good as

Wild Spirit.

An Azeri-Wild Spirit showdown in the Distaff would be a race for the ages, but the owners of

Wild Spirit are saying they have no interest in putting up the $400,000 to supplement her.

They’d rather run her in the Beldame.


In last Friday’s column, I pointed out that Yankees’ manager Joe Torre, a rabid racing guy, recently

bought his first horse, a Southern American mare named Cellamare, and entered her in Saturday’s

$75,000 Carmel Handicap at Bay Meadows.

It turned out to be a great day for Torre. The Yankees swept a day-night twin bill from

Tampa Bay…and Cellamare won the Carmel. Cellamare, 8-1 on the program, paid $3.80.

Surprisingly (well, maybe not) there has been no mention of Torre and Cellamare in the New

York press.

Also, in Friday’s column, I pointed out that Mr. Jester, a longshot in Saturday’s Kentucky Club

Juvenile, would make a great story if he won.

As it turned out, Pomeroy and Mr. Jester (20-1) finished one-two (as forecast in this space), but

the stewards – to the amazement of the public – disqualified Pomeroy from first to third, and

moved up Mr. Jester to first.

One thing the stewards’ action proved is that racing is the most democratic of all sports. They

took down the favorite, owned by Michael Tabor and trained by Pat Biancone

(international superstars), and put up a 20-1 shot trained by Steve Wren, a cattle farmer from

rural Arkansas.

Mr. Jester was owned by Hayes Biggs of Springdale, Ark., until his death on Aug. 12. The

widow, Karen Biggs, continues to run her husband’s horses, and Mr. Jester, named for Hayes

Biggs’ high school principal, was her first winner.

“Karen’s first time in the winner’s circle was a pretty emotional experience,” says Wren.

“I told her that we’ve got a lot of firsts in front of her.”

Incidentally, Mr. Jester won’t be going to the Breeders’ Cup either.

“To tell you the truth,” says Wren, “I don’t even know if he’s eligible.”

The Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland is the next likely spot for Mr. Jester.

Mr. Jester’s Turfway victory capped off a remarkable parlay for Arkansas sports. An hour before

the race, Arkansas topped Texas, setting off a party orgy that presumably is still going strong.

And, speaking of football, the talk of the gridiron world is the handicapping performance by your

truly over the first two weeks of the season.

Picking for the web site, I tacked on a 3-0 last weekend after a 4-1 opening weekend. My second-week

winners were New England, Miami and Dallas. St. Louis was a push.

Again, I want to point out that a lifetime racing guy is permitted to be an expert in football. I never

rode a horse but I could toss a mean tight spiral. Seven and one is not a fluke.  

Finally, the Breeders’ Cup people this week updated their future-book odds on four B.C. races – the

Juvenile, the Juvenile Fillies, the filly & mare turf, and the mile:

 Cuvee, by virtue of his blowout victory in the Belmont Futurity last Sunday was made the 6-1 favorite

for the Juvenile, with Chapel Royal, the beaten favorite in the Hopeful, the 8-1 second choice. The field

is the 10-1 third choice, with Siphonizer and Value Plus the 12-1 co-fourth choices.

Halfbridled, the unbeaten winner of the Del Mar Debutante, is the 2-1 pick in the Juvenile Fillies with

Class Above, the unbeaten winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies, second at 6-1. The field is the

third choice at 10-1.

The two grass races are wide-open.

Voodoo Dancer is the 6-1 favorite in the filly/mare turf with Nebraska Tornado second at 8-1. Special

Ring (8-1) is the only horse in single digits for the mile.

You can bet the B.C. futures this weekend at virtually all racetracks and simulcast venues.

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