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October 20, 2004     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Jim Gluckson

Led by defending Breeders’ Cup Classic winner PLEASANTLY PERFECT, Belmont Stakes winner BIRDSTONE, Whitney Handicap winner ROSES IN MAY, Woodward winner GHOSTZAPPER, Jockey Club Gold Cup and 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner FUNNY CIDE, and reigning Older Female Champion AZERI, 101 horses have been pre-entered for the 2004 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

 The 21st running of the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, consisting of eight grade I races with purses and awards totaling a minimum of $14 million, will be held on Saturday, October 30 at Lone Star Park in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie, Tex., and will be televised live by NBC Sports (1:00-6:00 p.m. ET).  This is the first time that Lone Star Park will host the Breeders’ Cup and the first time that the event will be held in the Southwest.

 Diamond A Racing’s Pleasantly Perfect, owned by Dallas businessman Gerald J. Ford, is one of 13 horses pre-entered  for the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge. The Classic, run at 1 ? miles, could go a long way in deciding the Horse of the Year title, and Pleasantly Perfect has an excellent chance to capture that honor with a Classic victory. Trained by Richard Mandella, who won an unprecedented four Breeders’ Cup races last year at Santa Anita, Pleasantly Perfect has won three of his four starts this year, including the Dubai World Cup in March and most recently the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

 Among the challengers expected to face Pleasantly Perfect is the 3-year-old Birdstone, who upset the Triple Crown bid of Smarty Jones in winning the Belmont Stakes. Owned by Marylou Whitney Stables and trained by Nick Zito, Birdstone showed that the Belmont was no fluke by capturing the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August. A Classic victory by Birdstone would give him strong consideration for the champion 3-year-old title, and Horse of the Year.

 Two undefeated horses in 2004 that are pre-entered for the Classic with Horse of the Year aspirations are Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Roses in May and Stronach Stable’s Ghostzapper. The 4-year-old Roses in May is five of five this year for trainer Dale Romans, highlighted by front-running victories in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders’ Cup, Whitney Handicap at Saratoga and the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park in September.  The speedy Ghostzapper was an accomplished sprinter last year, but since trainer Bobby Frankel switched him to route races this summer, the 4-year-old son of 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again has been spectacular, winning both the Iselin Breeders’ Cup and taking the Woodward three weeks later in an all-out stretch drive.  Among the other stars pre-entered for the Classic is Sackatoga Stable’s Funny Cide, who snapped a four-race losing streak by capturing The Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, and Stonecrest Farm’s PERFECT DRIFT, runner-up in his last four races this year, including the Whitney Handicap and the Pacific Classic.

 The 6-year-old mare Azeri is also pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but her connections have listed  the       $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel, as Azeri’s first choice. Winner of the 2002 Distaff and the Horse of the Year title, Azeri was injured prior to her title defense at Santa Anita last year and did not start. Over the winter owner Michael Paulson transferred the training duties of Azeri from Laura DeSeroux to D. Wayne Lukas, who leads all trainers with 17 Breeders’ Cup victories. Under Lukas’ care, Azeri has won three times: the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, the Go for Wand at Saratoga and most recently the Overbrook Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. Among the rivals for Azeri in the Distaff, to be run at 1 1/8 miles, is Everest Stables’ ISLAND FASHION, winner of the Lady’s Secret Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita earlier this month, and Ogden Mills Phipps’ 4-year-old filly STORM FLAG

FLYING, the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Champion, who defeated Azeri in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Among the top 3-year-old fillies pre-entered for the Distaff are Kentucky Oaks winner ASHADO and SOCIETY SELECTION, who defeated Ashado this summer in the Alabama Stakes.

 The $2 million John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf, run at 1 ? miles, is the richest of the three Breeders’ Cup grass races on the eight-race program. While Europeans have dominated the Turf during the past five years - notwithstanding Johar’s dead heat with High Chaparral in last year’s edition – this year, the U.S. may have the one of the favorites in Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 3-year-old KITTEN’S JOY. A winner six of seven times this year for trainer Dale Romans, Kitten’s Joy was victorious in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs and the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park, and then dominated older horses last time out in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park. >From Ireland comes POWERSCOURT (GB), trained by Aidan O’Brien, who took the Turf the last two years with High Chaparral (Ire). Powerscourt was the disqualified winner of the Arlington Million, but came back to run an impressive third in the Irish Champion Stakes. A major factor in the Turf could also be the 3-year-old filly OUIJA BOARD (GB), winner of both the English and Irish Oaks in the spring, and then a fast-closing third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

 The Ramseys may have a budding star in the $1.5 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf in their 4-year-old NOTHING TO LOSE, recent winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. He will face defending Mile Champion SIX PERFECTIONS (FR), the 4-year-old filly from the Niarchos Family, who has finished second in two of her three starts this year. Trainer Julio Canani has won the Mile twice with Silic (Fr) in 1999 and Val Royal (Fr) in 2001. Canani holds a strong hand this year with two stars: Del Mar Derby winner BLACKDOUN (FR) and Eddie Read Handicap winner SPECIAL RING.

The $1 million VO5 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, run at 1 3/8 miles, appears to be a wide open affair. Trainer Bobby Frankel, who won the race in 2002 with Starine (Fr), has pre-entered both LIGHT JIG (GB), winner of the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Oak Tree at Santa Anita and MEGAHERTZ (GB), winner of the Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita earlier this year. Trainer Jimmy Toner won the inaugural Filly & Mare Turf in 1999 with Soaring Softly; this year he brings the 5-year-old mare WONDER AGAIN, who captured the New York and Diana Handicaps earlier this year. Ouija Board has also been pre-entered for this race.

The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs is led by Laura and Eugene Melnyk’s SPEIGHTSTOWN. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the six year-old Speightstown has won four sprint stakes in Florida, New York and Kentucky this year.  He will be challenged by another 6-year-old, the fast closing KELA, who won both the Pat O’Brien Breeders’ Cup and the Bing Crosby Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar this summer for trainer Mike Mitchell. Bobby Frankel has pre-entered MIDAS EYES, winner of the Forego Handicap at Saratoga, and the defending Sprint Champion CAJUN BEAT.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the $1.5 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile a record five times. For this year’s Juvenile, a race for 2-year-old colts and geldings at 1 1/16 miles, Lukas has Bob and Beverly Lewis’ CONSOLIDATOR, winner of the Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. Lukas’ former assistant, Todd Pletcher, has pre-entered the undefeated PROUD ACCOLADE, who captured the Champagne Stakes at Belmont, and beat the favored AFLEET ALEX, who had won both the Sanford and Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. Trainer Bob Baffert has the dominant 2-year-old from California in Fog City Stable’s ROMAN RULER, recent winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita. 

In the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles, the top 2-year-old filly pre-entered from California is Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wygod’s SWEET CATOMINE, winner of the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita. Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s SENSE OF STYLE, winner of both the Spinaway and the Matron Stakes in New York, and Naveed Chowan’s RUNWAY MODEL, who defeated Sense of Style in the Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland, have also been pre-entered.

Pre-entered fields appear on the following pages (see attachment).  In races that are oversubscribed (more than 14 horses pre-entered) the top seven Breeders’ Cup point earners gain automatic berths in their race of first preference.A minimum of six points is required for an automatic berth in each race, excluding the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies races.  The horses remaining after the first seven in oversubscribed fields at the time of pre-entry will be ranked in order of preference by theBreeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel.The Panel has also ranked all horses not selected into the body of the field in preference order.  Should there be a defection from a field; horses will fill any vacancies in the order of ranking until the time of entry, Wednesday, October 27 at 10:00 a.m. CT.  Post positions for all eight Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championship races will then be drawn.