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Oct 07, 2005

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


On Saturday October 1st at Belmont they hosted the Breeders’ Cup Preview card. With five Grade I races all leading to the Breeders’ Cup we had some questions answered but many more questions arose about each division.

In the Grade I Vosburgh, a stakes race with a purse of $500,000 run at six furlongs this race is a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The slight favorite in the race was the entry of LION TAMER and POMEROY, with WOKE UP DREAMIN a close second choice. LION TAMER was able to finish third closing good ground late but was still more than two lengths behind the longshot winning TASTE OF PARADISE. The pace was a good one and was set by the New York bred UNCLE CAMIE who tired to finish last. WOKE UP DREAMIN finished a well beaten ninth and was retired after the race. POMEROY who didn’t show his customary speed is expected back for the Sprint along with the winner but it would seem that other than LOST IN THE FOG, this race will be very wide open come October 29th.

In the Beldame for fillies and mares the favorite was last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner ASHADO. Coming off a poor performance in her last start at Saratoga, this Pletcher trainee rebounded with a solid half length victory over HAPPY TICKET, with SOCIETY SELECTION another two and a half lengths back in third. The second choice in the race was the undefeated three year old filly and Alabama Stakes winner SWEET SYMPHONY who could do no better than a well beaten fourth. The top three however and even SWEET SYMPHONY should make it back for the Distaff which will make it a very competitive race.

The next race was the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for three year olds and upward to be run at 1 and ½ miles on the turf. The odds-on favorite was the undefeated SHAKESPEARE, who was trying to stretchout to this distance for the first time. Well he didn’t disappoint scoring by just a head over the three year old ENGLISH CHANNEL with ACE checking in third. SHAKESPEARE had to make a very wide move and dug in gamely for the score; this race has him primed and ready for the Breeders’ Cup. The rest of the field didn’t do much running but this race should offer a few competitors for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. There will be some Euros shipping over but they may have their hands full with the American turfers this year.

In the 1 million dollar Jockey Club Gold Cup for three year olds and upward was the big race of the day and was a prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The favorite in the race was the entry of FLOWER ALLEY and BISHOP COURT HILL, who was entered as a rabbit. The plan didn’t work so well as FLOWER ALLEY was headstrong and the two entrymates ran head to head down the backside before they both tired with FLOWER ALLEY checking in fourth. The winner of the race was BORREGO who trailed the field early on before coming with a huge run to take over the lead and never looked back scoring by a geared down four and a half lengths. SUAVE closed some for second with the three year old SUN KING checking in third. Second choice LAVA MAN never did much and tired to finish a well beaten seventh. With that win that made it two 1 million dollar races in a row for BORREGO who will be one to reckon with on Breeders’ Cup day. FLOWER ALLEY is better than what we saw and is expected to return in the Breeders’ Cup for another chance.

In the final Grade I of the day the Flower Bowl Invitational we saw another longshot get the job done. RISKAVERSE who won the Flower Bowl last year did it again at 35-1. After stalking the early leaders from the inside, she swung out under jockey Jose Santos and ran on gamely to the wire for a head score. WONDER AGAIN another six year old mare came running late to just miss with FILM MAKER closing for the show spot. The favorite, three year old filly MELHOR AINDA finished a non threatening seventh. This race should be another wide open race even with the top Euros shipping in again this year.

On Sunday Belmont hosted the Grade II Kelso which is a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. FUNFAIR closed up the inside to nail the favorite ARTIE SCHILLER on the wire by a head. Both of those are expected to run back in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, yet again another very competitive race. The Cowdin and Astarita stakes were also run, for two year olds and two year old fillies. In the Cowdin, HE’S GOT GRIT was an easy wire to wire winner and is expected to be given time off. In the Astarita, SENSATION stalked the leaders and drew away for an easy score. She may be given a shot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies especially because she seems to like the Belmont surface.

In two other races of significance, ROCK HARD TEN was an easy winner of his prep race at Santa Anita and will be ready for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. LOST IN THE FOG kept his undefeated record intact with an easy wire to wire score over four very weak opponents. It will be interesting to see what happens when he faces better competition in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.



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