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JOHN DEERE BREEDERS’ CUP TURF NOTES


October 25, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

Ace (IRE) – The 4yo son of Danehill was one of five horses from trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard in Ireland expected to arrive at the Belmont Park Quarantine Barn around 5 p.m.
Tuesday after a non-stop charter flight from Shannon Airport.
Stable rider Kieren Fallon will have the mount on Saturday. O’Brien is expected to arrive in New York on Thursday, according to the International Racing Bureau.

Alkaased – Luca Cumani changed plans for his Turf hopeful on arriving at Belmont Park on a rainy, blustery Tuesday. Instead of the main track, the British trainer sent the Kingmambo 5yo to trainer Allen Jerkens’ covered jogging track in Barn 30 in company with Classic hopeful Starcraft.
On being informed by Jerkens that seven times around constituted one mile, Cumani had his duo go half a dozen laps in each direction.
The son of Kingmambo was also scheduled to go to the Training Track Tuesday afternoon. “He goes out at 4:30 p.m. just to trot because he needs a bit more exercise,” said Cumani.
The trainer was convinced the Turf course would be open to European runners on Wednesday and said Alkaased would canter over it, but he would not like a soft course on Saturday.
“He doesn’t like it soft and he might not run if it is very deep,” he said. “I’m hoping the mile-and-a-half here will help him and there will be a good pace. He likes to run around bends.”

Azamour (IRE) – The Aga Khan’s runner cantered on the training track Tuesday morning in preparation for the Turf. Trainer John Oxx, who won the Mile here in very heavy going with Ridgewood Pearl in 1995, has given the ride Saturday to Michael Kinane.

Bago (FR) – Never out of the money in 10 starts, the 4yo figures to be a big factor on Saturday. Bago went to the main track Tuesday morning for a canter in company with Robert Collet-trained Whipper.
The French-trained runners left the Quarantine Barn 30 minutes after their blood tests were cleared by the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa. Thierry Gillet, who has ridden Bago in all his starts, will have the mount on Saturday.

Better Talk Now – The defending Turf champion kept a low profile while jogging over the trails at Fair Hill Training Center on a wet and windy Tuesday morning. Although Better Talk Now has been training out of the Belmont Park spotlight, trainer Graham Motion expressed a bit of consternation that his 6yo turf star isn’t being given more attention.
“Honestly, I don’t know why that is,” Motion said. “I think he’s always been in the shadow of the ‘now’ horse. Last year, it was Kitten’s Joy. This year, it’s Shakespeare,”
Motion, who plans to van Better Talk Now and his three other Breeders’ Cup horses to Belmont Park after training hours on Thursday, certainly appreciates the accomplishments of Better Talk Now, who has won a pair of Grade 1 turf stakes this year after prevailing in the Turf at Lone Star Park last year at 27-1.
“He’s one of those once in a lifetime horses. To be able to come back to the Breeders’ Cup with a chance to defend a championship is a dream come true,” Motion said. “We know how hard it is for a horse to maintain his form from one year to the next.”

English Channel – On a nasty weather morning at Belmont Park, trainer Todd Pletcher let his Joe Hirsch Turf Classic runner-up walk the shedrow Tuesday morning under tack.
The 3yo son of Smart Strike breezed over the Belmont turf course Saturday in a move designed to get his final workout as close to the schedule Pletcher had mapped out had the weather cooperated.

“It’s been difficult with all the rain we’ve had that we haven’t had to get too far off schedule,” said Pletcher. “Ideally I probably would have wished to work (last) Sunday and (this) Sunday with all my Breeders’ Cup horses. As it is, the turf horses went Saturday and the dirt horses worked Monday so we’ve been fortunate.”
While the rain shifted the schedule, Pletcher is confident English Channel and his other seven projected starters on Saturday’s program are ready.
“I could walk them all until Saturday and they’d be ready,” he said. “English Channel is obviously fit and I think especially with turf horses like him, they tend to hold their fitness and recuperate from their races a little better.”
English Channel was a game second-place finisher in the Turf Classic while racing between the undefeated Shakepeare and Ace (IRE) through the straight.

Fourty Niners Son – The 4yo colt was scheduled to arrive for the Turf Tuesday afternoon on a flight from California. Asked how he named the son of Distorted Humor out of the mare Cindazanno, owner-breeder Tom Baxter—a Nebraska cattleman—explained, “I always liked Distorted Humor’s sire, Forty Niner, and I was never a very good speller.”

Gun Salute – While Bill Mott fears that a couple of his horses’ performances might be compromised by soft turf, the Hall of Fame trainer can take a measure of comfort in knowing that Gun Salute would benefit.
The 3yo colt, who galloped a mile over the Belmont training track Tuesday morning, has won three races on “off” turf. Mott said that the likelihood of a soft turf on Saturday was a contributing factor in deciding to enter the late-developing Gun Salute in the Turf.
“It’s been one step at a time with him, but he really showed himself off in the Secretariat,” said Mott, whose 3yo captured the Grade 1 stakes on a “yielding” turf.

Laura’s Lucky Boy – The 4yo son of 1987 Turf winner Theatrical galloped 1 _ miles under exercise rider Paul Nilluang Tuesday at Santa Anita and will be flown to New York Wednesday on a cargo flight with stablemate Rock Hard Ten. Like Rock Hard Ten, Laura’s Lucky Boy was a stakes winner at 3 before being transferred by owner Mercedes Stable to trainer Richard Mandella late last year.

Leprechaun Kid – The 6yo gelding was scheduled to arrive Tuesday afternoon on a flight from California, but trainer Mike Mitchell was uncertain of an exercise rider because of the hurricane in Florida. “I left his regular exercise rider in California with the rest of the stable,” explained Mitchell, who arrived here Monday night.
“Rhonda Nalley, my assistant trainer in Florida, was supposed to fly up and be his exercise rider, but today she was not sure when she would be able to get out because of flight cancellations and delays. If she is unable to get here by tomorrow morning, I may try to use Don Chatlos’ exercise rider (David Meah) since we are both stabled with Bobby Frankel.
“Bobby is the greatest trainer, so I’ll watch what he does,” said Mitchell of his training plans for the week. “I will probably go early on the dirt tomorrow. I doubt that I will go on the grass tomorrow, especially after all that rain.”
Mitchell, 57, is no stranger to New York but has never started a horse at Belmont. “In 1974, I worked here for Reggie Cornell when he trained for Calumet,” said Mitchell. “At Aqueduct, I won the (2001) Bay Shore Stakes with Skip to the Stone.”

Shakespeare – As the morning rains fell onto the Belmont Park turf course, trainer Bill Mott had some reason for concern about Shakespeare’s start in the Turf. Although the undefeated 4yo son of Theatrical has never run on anything other than ‘firm’ turf, his breeding suggests that a soft course would not be to his liking.
“He worked on it Monday – it probably would have been rated ‘yielding’ – and he worked well,” said Mott, whose Turf contender worked 5f on turf in 1:03 4/5 Monday morning to jockey Jerry Bailey’s satisfaction. “But, historically, Theatricals don’t like soft ground.”
Mott, whose Turf starter tack-walked under the shedrow Tuesday morning, said the best-case scenario for Saturday would be a “good” turf course.
Shakespeare has overcome bigger obstacles. After winning his first two races last year, he suffered a stress fracture in his right knee that threatened his racing career.
“He went from the best horse in the barn to a retired horse,” said Mott, who reported that a screw was inserted into the knee to help the healing process. “I never thought he’d return. I just had to put it behind me.”

Shake the Bank – Trainer Graham Motion had briefly pondered keeping Shake The Bank in his stall at Fair Hill Training Center on Saturday, but he said he didn’t want to ask himself, “What if,” on Sunday morning. Shake the Bank will be entered in the Turf Wednesday for the benefit of his late-running stablemate and defending Turf champion, Better Talk Now.
Motion, who employed the same strategy to facilitate Better Talk Now’s victories in the United Nations and Man ‘O War, said Shake the Bank shouldn’t have any negative impact on any of the other Turf runners.
“The only reason we’re entering him is to insure an honest pace, not to take anyone out of his game,” said Motion, who reported that the 5yo gelding galloped 1_ miles over wood chips Tuesday morning. “It actually may help other horses in the race, especially the Europeans.”
Tommy Turner will be aboard Shake the Bank again after getting the job done in both the United Nations and Man ‘O War.

Shirocco (GER)—British trainer John Gosden was touting the Andre Fabre trainee Tuesday morning after the son of Monsun returned from a canter on the training track in company with Fabre’s Mile representative Valixir. The horses were on the track at 9:15, about 30 minutes after their blood tests were cleared by the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa.
“There’s the Turf winner,” Gosden said as Shirocco entered the Quarantine Barn gate. “He loves soft ground.”
Shirocco will have the services of Christophe Soumillon on Saturday. Fabre is expected to be at Belmont Park Friday.

Silverfoot – Chrysalis Stable LLC’s With Approval gelding had a light gallop over a muddy Churchill Downs track on Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to arrive at Belmont on Wednesday afternoon on a flight from Louisville.
Trainer Dallas Stewart was confident his charge, who has a 2-2-0 record from six starts over soft or yielding turf, would not have a problem on Saturday with the likelihood of an off turf course.
“He’ll be OK,” said Stewart. “The turf condition is definitely not a worry.”