Sep 23, 2005
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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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