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Sep 23, 2005

RACING TODAY

By: JOHN PIESEN


With the Breeders’ Cup five weeks away at Belmont Park, it’s time to take an early

 look at the eight races.

The races are listed in no particular order. In fact, the menu of races won’t be

 decided until after the draw.

CLASSIC

No Ghostzapper. No Roses in May. No Eddington. No Afleet Alex. No Bellamy Road.

 No Giacomo. No Rockport Harbor. No Commentator. So instead of getting a Classic

 for the ages, we are looking at the weakest Classic field ever.

Although he finished up the track in his lone try at a mile and a quarter, Saint Liam

 will be the favorite. It goes without saying that he doesn’t have to win.

Borrego, always a personal favorite, comes off a career performance in the Pacific

Classic, and may be the “now” horse.

Then there always are the 3-year-olds – in this case, what’s left of them, meaning

Flower Alley, Roman Ruler and Sun King.

TURF

The story line was expected to be Kitten’s Joy making up for his hard-luck loss at

 odds-on in this race last year. But now Kitten’s Joy is on the shelf, his future up in

 the air.

That leaves Powerscourt, the winner of the recent Arlington Million, and defending

 champion Better Talk Now as the major players.

Others with a chance are Shakespeare, unbeaten and untested; and European turfers

 Azamour, Motivator and Oratorio.

Obviously, if Powerscourt runs back to his Million, they are all running for second money.

DISTAFF

Who’s hotter than Billy Mott? And Mott has the unbeaten Sweet Symphony looking

 good for the big filly-mare race.

The story line here is George Steinbrenner. With the Boss’ Bellamy Road on the

disabled list, would it not make headlines if the Boss picks off the Distaff with the

unbeaten Sweet Symphony. But first this filly has to get through the Beldame.

The competition for Sweet Symphony in the Beldame (Oct.. 1 at Belmont) will

include several other Breeders’ Cup hopefuls, notably Society Selection, Shadow Cast

 and Island Sand. The latter will get back her regular rider, Terry Thompson, for the

 Beldame and Breeders’ Cup.

Ashado, last year’s BC Distaff winner, through in a clunker in the Personal Ensign at

 Saratoga, and is maybe 50-50 to make the Distaff.

MILE

The mighty Leroidesanimaux may be impossible to spell or to pronounce, but the

 Bob Frankel-trained speedball will be the shortest-priced favorite on the card.

Tough luck for Jon Court. Court won six straight on Leroy, but had to pass on

 Saratoga to honor several commitments that day at Del Mar. Velazquez got the mount,

 and keeps the mount for the Mile.

Frankel, suffering from the flu, almost passed out getting to the winner’s circle to greet

 Leroy after he won at Woodbine. Brooklyn Bob hasn’t had much luck at the Breeders’ Cup.

 Maybe his luck will turn here.

Artie Schiller, who had a nightmare trip as the favorite in the ’04 BC Mile, gets a chance at redemption here.  Singletary, last year’s Mile winner, needs to get his form back.

FILLY / MARE TURF

Frankel again?

Melhor Ainda had a horror trip as the favorite in the Beverly D; no surprise if she rebounds

with the big money on the line.

Meantime, Angara has every right to run right back to her upset victory in the Beverly D.

Trainer Mott will be represented by Sand Springs, who may shake loose on the lead.

SPRINT

The Sprint will generate the most buzz on the card thanks to the unbeaten Lost in the Fog.

 Right now, he’s regarded as the best pure sprinter in years, but truth is, he hasn’t beaten

any good horses, much less older horses.

At the present time, Fog is ranked No. 1 in the NTRA rankings…meaning if he wins the

Sprint, and does so impressively, who knows? He actually could wind up being voted

 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year.

After all, what has Afleet Alex done lately?

The second best sprinter alive is Wildcat Heir, but he’s had some physical problems,

and his Sprint status in uncertain. Moreover, trainer Perkins fears that the Wildcat won’t qualify

 for the race because the race will be oversubscribed, and his colt is way down the earnings list.

Pomeroy and Woke Up Dreamin are talented sprinters, and the dark horse is the stretch-running Silver Wagon.

JUVENILE

Jockey Bailey is the regular rider for both Hopeful winner First Samurai, and Futurity

 winner Private Vow. Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Private Vow, is looking for his

first Breeders’ Cup winner – much like arch-rival Pletcher was last year.                  

Sorcerer’s Stone, from the trainer who gave us Favorite Trick seven years back, is a

worthy candidate, as are California shipper Stevie Wonderboy and the once-beaten

Henny Hughes.

JUVENILE FILLIES

Trainer Lukas is sitting pretty with Matron blowout winner Folklore, but this filly is

unlikely to get the perfect trip she got in the Matron.

Adieu beat Folklore twice. Sensation is better than her Spin away, and trainer Holthus

 is thinking about paying the $9,000 to supplement the talented Beau Dare.

In the meantime, they are running the Calder All-Stakes Pick Four Saturday at the

south Florida venue, rain or shine.

My only advice is to use the four “ones” – Aclassysassylassy; Frolicing; R Loyal Man,

 and Lord Robyn.

Finally, call it coincidence or not, but on the same day this week (Tuesday) that the

New York Times announced it is slashing 500 jobs, its Mets’ beat man described the

 Mets’ winning hit as a line drive when it was a ground ball.

I know from experience that baseball writers often are too busy in the press box to bother watching the game, but at least – as in this case – it would be a good thing if the guy actually saw the winning hit.



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