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Japan's Breeders' Cup Classic Hope Espoir City Gets First Feel of Main Track at Churchill Downs
ESPOIR CITY GETS FIRST FEEL OF TRACK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Two days after arriving at Churchill Downs from Japan, Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) hopeful Espoir City (JPN), got the opportunity to set foot on the track beneath the Twin Spires.
Leaving the quarantine barn at 9 o’clock Thursday morning, Espoir City was accompanied to the track by a pony. The two jogged in the mile chute for about 20 minutes before Espoir City galloped 1 ¼ miles under exercise rider Toshiyuki Abematsu.
“We just wanted to get him out for some light exercise because he was climbing the walls in the barn,” said Mikki Tsuge, West Coast representative for the Japan Racing Association. “He will probably go out about the same time tomorrow when there is not as much traffic on the track.”
Tsuge said that trainer Akio Adachi, who was here for the 5-year-old horse’s arrival Tuesday, returned to Japan on Wednesday and would be back in Louisville the first part of Breeders’ Cup week. Jockey Tetsuzo Sato, who has been aboard Espoir City for 16 of his 20 starts, would arrive in Louisville on Friday night and be at the track on Saturday and Sunday before returning to Japan.
“Mr. Adachi has some horses in races over the weekend,” Tsuge said. “He has a lot of trust in Sato. Espoir City has been a project for both Mr. Adachi and Sato and it was Sato who recommended that Espoir City go on dirt.”
A winner of 10 of 13 races on dirt, Espoir City has earned $5,963,979 but never has raced at the Classic distance of 1 ¼ miles during his career in Japan. While Sato is in town, he is expected to work Espoir City either Saturday or Sunday.
BLAME USED TO CHURCHILL DOWNS LIGHTS; APART HEADED TO ACK ACK – The lights will be on for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, Nov. 6, but the scene will be nothing new for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame, one of the favorites for the race.
“The third night they ran here last year under the portable lights, he won,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said. “He handled them fine, no problems at all.”
The Classic is not scheduled to be run under the track’s permanent lights, which were installed this year. But the scheduled post time of 6:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and sunset on that day will be at 6:38 p.m., so the lights are likely to be on for the Classic as a precaution – especially if the day is cloudy.
Stall plans to work Blame on Sunday at Keeneland and then bring the 4-year-old to Churchill Downs on Wednesday “to let him hang out. He will have six training days here.”
Blame is scheduled to have his lone Churchill Downs work on Sunday, Oct. 31, with jockey Garrett Gomez up.
Also coming with Blame is Columbine Stable’s J. B.’s Thunder, winner of the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland on Oct. 9.
“He will work tomorrow morning at 8:15 at Keeneland,” Stall said. “He will go back to the track Sunday and Monday and if everything is perfect, we will pull the trigger and pre-enter (in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile).”
Stall also said that Super Derby (GII) winner Apart, also owned by Dilschneider, will run in the $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 5 instead of the Fayette (GII) at Keeneland on Oct. 30.
“We are going to pass the Fayette,” Stall said. “The dirt is good for him and I didn’t want to face older horses in a Grade II (on Polytrack). We will stay with dirt.”
PROCTOR EYES BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF WITH BANNED – The most recent time trainer Tom Proctor saddled a horse in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs it was a 6-year-old mare named One Dreamer, who scored a shocking 47-1 upset win for Glen Hill Farm in the 1994 Distaff (GI).
Proctor hopes to have another runner for Glen Hill in this year’s Juvenile Turf (GII) in Banned, a five-length allowance winner at 1-2 odds on Oct. 17 at Keeneland.
“He should get in,” Proctor said of Banned, who is 2-for-2 on the turf. “He broke his maiden the same way at Saratoga.”
One Dreamer led all the way under Gary Stevens, defeating a Distaff (now Ladies’ Classic) field that included the likes of Heavenly Prize, Hollywood Wildcat and Sky Beauty.
"She never should have been 47-1,” Proctor said. “She won (the Louisville Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap) here that spring and the year before in the fall she ran second to Miss Indy Anna (in the Churchill Downs Budweiser Breeders’ Cup Handicap). I had run her on turf all that summer before the Breeders’ Cup.”
Proctor said a decision has not been made on pre-entering Keertana, owned by Barbara Hunter, in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI). The $100,000 Cardinal Handicap (GIII) is also a possibility for the 4-year-old Keertana, winner of the 2009 Regret (GIII) here and most recently fourth in the Flower Bowl Invitational (GI) at Belmont Park on Oct. 2.
Keertana’s half-sister, Snow Top Mountain, is being pointed to the $175,000 Mrs. Revere (GII) for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs on Nov. 20 according to Proctor. Snow Top Mountain ran fifth in last Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (GI) at Keeneland.
CHURCHILL DOWNS TO HONOR BRASSEAUX WITH RACE -- Churchill Downs will honor the late outrider Shawn Brasseaux with a memorial race in his honor on Wednesday, Nov. 3. A native of Louisiana, Brasseaux, 42, died suddenly on Sept. 18.
An outrider for 18 years, Brasseaux had been at Churchill Downs for two years. The first race on Nov. 3 will be designated as the Shawn Brasseaux Memorial.
BARN TALK – Westrock Stables’ Tidal Pool, hoping for a berth in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI), worked a half-mile in :48.80 after the renovation break over a fast track Thursday morning for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Fractions for the work were :12.80, :24.60 and out five furlongs in 1:03.40. …
Several Breeders’ Cup hopefuls had works Thursday morning at Keeneland headlined by Here Comes Ben (Dirt Mile) for trainer Charles Lopresti. Here Comes Ben worked six furlongs in 1:12 with fractions of :25, :49.20, out seven furlongs in 1:24 and the mile in 1:38.40. Cash Refund (Sprint) worked five furlongs out of the gate in :58.80 with fractions of :23 and :46 with a gallop-out time of 1:13 for six furlongs. Due Date (Turf Sprint) worked a half-mile in :47.20 with a first quarter in :24. Both horses are trained by Steve Margolis. Cozy Kitten (Juvenile Turf) worked five furlongs on the turf in company with Great Attack in 1:04.20 for trainer Wesley Ward. Also working on the turf in company were the third- and fifth-place finishers in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, respectively, Willcox Inn for Michael Stidham and Major Gain for Wayne Catalano, in 1:03.60. …
Traffic will begin to pick up in the stable area on Friday with an arrival of horses from California for the Breeders’ Cup. Coming in from California on Friday via a Tex Sutton charter are Smiling Tiger (Breeders’ Cup Sprint) and a handful of horses for trainer John Sadler to join the four horses he has in Barn 39. Five charters are scheduled in next week, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 26 with a contingent from New York that will include a number of horses for trainer Todd Pletcher. Sutton also has flights coming in Friday, Oct. 29 from California and Saturday, Oct. 30 from New York. Also next Saturday, Godolphin runners are expected in from Europe on one charter with a second charter bringing other European-based horses. Sutton has charters arriving in Louisville from California and New York on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. Irish-based horses are scheduled to arrive on Monday, Nov. 1.