|Daily Racing Form|
|Thursday, September 20
|Attack alters prep plans for Championships|
By Jay Privman
Daily Racing Form
NEW YORK -- The countdown has begun to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park, but with a muted tone and altered schedule as a result of last week's terrorist attacks.
Belmont Park had to cancel several important stakes last weekend. Some horses scheduled to run in this weekend's Kentucky Cup races at Turfway Park could not make timely connections from California and have passed the races. Trainer Bob Baffert said on Wednesday that his two best 2-year-olds, the colt Officer and the filly Habibti, would have their final Breeders' Cup preps at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, not at Belmont Park as originally planned.
Although the inconveniences facing horsemen seem insignificant when compared with the tragedies from the attacks, some horsemen have been enmeshed in both. Trainer Nick Zito has been concentrating on getting both Albert the Great and A P Valentine prepared for the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 6 at Belmont Park, and the subsequent Breeders' Cup Classic. Yet Zito also has had to deal with the grief shared by the family of Rick Pitino, the University of Louisville basketball coach and co-owner of A P Valentine, whose brother-in-law, Billy Minardi, worked on the 104th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center, the first to be hit by an airplane. Minardi, the brother of Pitino's wife, Joanne, is among the thousands missing and presumed dead.
This year's program of Breeders' Cup races will be the 18th. The eight-race, $13 million program, which was renamed over the summer, will be televised live by NBC in a five-hour broadcast. The final race of the day is the richest, the $4 million Classic, in which 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow will seek a repeat victory.
Despite the premature retirement of Point Given, the Classic still is shaping up as a compelling race. Tiznow recently returned to action, finishing a sharp third behind Lido Palace and Albert the Great in the Woodward Stakes on Sept. 8. Tiznow was stranded in New York after the terrorist attacks, and finally returned to California on Tuesday. His co-owner, Michael Cooper, on Wednesday said both the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Santa Anita's Goodwood Handicap on Oct. 7 are under consideration for Tiznow's next start.
But Cooper spoke for many when he said, "It's been hard for me to get excited. With this other thing, it doesn't seem that important. At this time last year, I was so excited I couldn't sleep."
The only other Classic horse of significance being prepared for the Goodwood is Skimming, who won the Pacific Classic at Del Mar for the second straight year in his last start.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup will have at least Albert the Great, A P Valentine, and Aptitude, who won the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap in his last start for red-hot trainer Bobby Frankel. Zito said that Albert the Great will have a new rider, with Gary Stevens replacing Jorge Chavez. Stevens became open for the Classic when Point Given was retired.
Lido Palace, who like Aptitude and Skimming is trained by Frankel, likely will skip the Gold Cup, and his chances of running in the Classic are uncertain. Lido Palace would need to be supplemented to the Classic for $800,000 because neither he nor his sire, Rich Man's Gold, were nominated to the Breeders' Cup. Frankel has advised John Amerman, Lido Palace's principal owner, that the supplemental fee makes no sense economically.
"You could run second and lose money after you pay the trainer, the stable, and the jockey," Frankel said. Frankel added that he believes the Japan Cup Dirt in Tokyo in late November is a better option for Lido Palace.
Europe will be well represented if both Fantastic Light and Galileo come to the Breeders' Cup for the Classic, as previously announced. Fantastic Light, who beat the previously undefeated Galileo last time out in the Irish Champion Stakes, is expected to arrive in New York in early October, according to assistant trainer Tom Albertrani.
Macho Uno, the winner of the Pennsylvania Derby, will have his final prep for the Classic in the Ohio Derby on Sept. 29 at Thistledown, a track owned by Macho Uno's owner, Frank Stronach. Red Bullet, who like Macho Uno is owned by Stronach and trained by Joe Orseno, will run in the Meadowlands Cup on Sept. 28, but Orseno said Red Bullet is uncertain for the Classic because the colt has run poorly both times he has raced at Belmont. "He picked a heck of a track not to like," Orseno said. Others pointing for the Meadowlands Cup include Broken Vow and Generous Rosi.
This weekend's most significant races for Classic aspirants include the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park, featuring Balto Star and Guided Tour, and the Super Derby, with Travers runner-up E Dubai. Dixie Dot Com, the Pacific Classic runner-up, was expected to run in the Kentucky Cup Classic, but could not make proper travel plans from California.
Among those off the Classic trail is Captain Steve, the Dubai World Cup winner, who finished third in last year's Classic. He is being given a lengthy rest following a series of poor races this summer.
Here is a rundown of developments in the other Breeders' Cup races:
and Mare Turf
Additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories