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Nov 18, 2011

Keeping Breeders' Cup Classic winner in training

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - These days top flight thoroughbreds rarely keep racing beyond the age of four. So it's news when there is even a suggestion that a leading racehorse might remain in training.

Breeders' Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer was to be retired from racing after last week's race, now his owner WinStar Farm is reconsidering that decision.

"All options are open for Drosselmeyer, and we expect to make a decision by some time next week," said Elliott Walden, WinStar President & CEO on Wednesday. "Our phone has been ringing off the hook since Saturday's big win, including Mike Smith lobbying to keep the horse in training. So we're weighing all of our options and will do what we feel is best for Drosselmeyer and WinStar."

Jockey Mike Smith has every hope to ride Drosselmeyer again. The Hall of Fame rider was aboard the colt last year in winning the Belmont Stakes.

"I had ridden him once to win the Belmont on him," Smith shortly after winning this year's Classic, "and to get a chance to ride him back in the Classic, I don't know, I got this good feeling as soon as I found out."

The 4-year-old colt was to be retired to stand the 2012 breeding season in New York. However, a clause in the contract allows some maneuvering room if Drosselmeyer were to win the $5 million Classic.

"Horses in this day and age don't run a lot of starts. He's had 15," Walden noted on Saturday. "A lot of them don't have stamina, and he will get you the Classic type horse. So that's an exciting thing for his breeding credential, and we'll just sit down and huddle and see how that is."

Five weeks before taking the Classic Drosselmeyer finished a solid second to Flat Out in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. That came seven weeks after a seventh on the turf in the Sword Dancer at Saratoga. In June the colt was second in the Brooklyn Handicap behind Birdrun with his only other 2011 win coming in a minor stakes at Belmont in May.

"Back before we ran him at Saratoga, we ran him on the grass," Walden said following the Classic victory. "We had a plan to get to the Breeders' Cup. Bill (Mott) came up with the fact that there was a race when he was second on Belmont day, he came up with a plan to run him on the grass once because it was a mile and a half, and that would set him up for the Jockey Club and see what happened in the Jockey Club and where that would take us.

"He ran well in the Jockey Club, and I think anybody that's seen him train all week, well, for two weeks, would just know that this horse is doing very well and is peaking at the right time."

Drosselmeyer was 14-1 for the 1 1/4-mile Classic which was understandable considering his 2011 efforts.

"We backed out of the horse after the Belmont last year," the trainer noted. "We gave him a lot of time. He had a couple of easy months off, didn't do anything.

"We brought him back the beginning of the year. He was fat and really kind of didn't get in the rhythm the first two or three races. As the year progressed, he seemed to get a little better and a little better.

"Really midway through Saratoga, after we ran him in the Sword Dancer, it was kind of like somebody had flipped a switch, and he just turned around. He was moving great. He was into his training. There again, he ran a big one in the Jockey Gold Cup to be second.

"And he was coming on. We didn't beat the winner, but it looked like -- really, Elliott kind of made the decision, I think, to lean towards the Classic with him after that race. Really, it was a great decision, and we've been here for a month, and the horses have had good work on the racetrack. I think it really paid off."

Drosselmeyer more than tripled his career earnings to $3,728,170 with his Classic victory. One more year in training with continued success on the track can give him and his connections much more money and increase his stud value even more.

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