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Oct 08, 2004

ATC LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            With the Breeders’ Cup less than three weeks away the prep races are coming fast and

furious. Some of the major preps were held over the weekend of October 2nd and October 3rd at

Belmont and Santa Anita.

            On October 2nd at Belmont they hosted four consecutive Grade I races, each of them having

an impact on the Breeders’ Cup.

            In the Grade I Flower Bowl on the turf for fillies and mares the winner was RISKAVERSE, who

scored by ¾’s of a length. The 4-5 favorite WONDER AGAIN stalked the leaders but never made a

winning move and finished sixth. The win was RISKAVERSE’S first win since November of 2003 when

Cornelio Velasquez was last aboard her. No decision about the Breeders’ Cup has been made as of

this writing for RISKAVERSE.

            In the Grade I Vosburgh, it was a compact field of five horses but there was definitely quality

there. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner CAJUN BEAT (who was making his first start for trainer

Bobby Frankel), SPEIGHTSTOWN, undefeated in 2004 for the Pletcher/Velazquez combo and

PICO CENTRAL, the Carter and Met Mile hero. SPEIGHTSTOWN broke on the lead and took some

pressure from CAJUN BEAT but the half was not that fast for these horses, 45:3. PICO CENTRAL stalked

the pace while racing three wide and took over as they entered the stretch. He showed why he is the

best sprinter in the country drawing away for an easy score. VOODOO the longest shot in the race got

up for second and SPEIGHTSTOWN just held third over CAJUN BEAT. It looks like SPEIGHTSTOWN

and CAJUN BEAT will both move on but PICO CENTRAL who is not eligible and would have to be

supplemented may skip. However, the Sprint will be one of the toughest races on the card either way.

            In the next race the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic it was a two horse race. The two favorites

were 1-2 under the wire in reverse order. Second choice, KITTEN’S JOY proved his worth against older

horses defeating the favored MAGISTRETTI. With a strong burst through the stretch he proved that

not only is he the top three year old turf horse in the country he is also one of the best turf horses

overall. He is expected to race in the Breeders’ cup along with MAGISTRETTI.

            In the final Grade I of the day it was the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup. Maybe because of the

timing of the race (too close to the Breeders’ Cup) this race came up very weak. The winner of the

race was the slight favorite FUNNY CIDE who battled back for the score. The third place finisher

THE CLIFF’S EDGE was making a winning move on the turn but he hung in the stretch. Turns out after

the race they found that he had a fractured ankle and had to be retired. If  FUNNY CIDE moves on

to the Breeders’ Cup Classic he would be up against it but because of his popularity he might take

some money.

            On Saturday October 2nd Santa Anita hosted some Breeders’ Cup preps of their own. In the

Grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes on the turf the favorite LIGHT JIG exploded to score going away to

win by four lengths. After saving ground most of the way in 8th she moved up on the turn swung out

and ran by the leaders with ease for the score. This Bobby Frankel trainee will probably be the

favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare turf if she runs; she is expected to run.

            The Grade II Goodwood Handicap, sometimes used as a prep for the Classic, drew five horses

and the winner was LUNDY’S LIABILITY, an import from Dubai via South Africa via Brazil. There

would have to be huge improvement to beat any of the better handicap horses if he does decide to

go to the Breeders’ Cup.

            In the Grade II Oak Leaf Stakes for two year old fillies the winner was the second choice,

SWEET CATOMINE. After racing midpack she came with a big sweeping move to win going away and

must be respected in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The favorite SPLENDID BLENDED was second

and easily clear of the third place finisher. Both of these nice looking fillies might move on to the

Breeders’ Cup, decisions were pending.

            On Sunday a few more preps were hosted by Santa Anita. The Grade I Clement L. Hirsch turf

championship went to STAR OVER THE BAY. This one time claimer would have to step it up to

challenge any in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The favorite in the race BAYAMO was vanned off.

            In the Grade II Lady’s Secret stakes the winner was ISLAND FASHION who was coming off

a long layoff. She rebounded back to her form from earlier this year and must be respected heading

into the Breeders’ Cup off that effort.

            In the Grade II Norfolk Stakes for two year olds, we saw 1-9 shot ROMAN RULER score by

4  ½ lengths but did that over very weak competition. There were only three other horses that ran

and none of those horses had any credentials. ROMAN RULER may be a bet against in the

Breeders’ Cup when he will have to face much better competition.

           



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