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Pletcher's Strong Cup Contingent Hits the Track; Classic Contender Blame Arrives
PLETCHER’S STRONG BREEDERS’ CUP CONTINGENT HITS TRACK – Trainer Todd Pletcher has 11 horses pre-entered for the 27th Breeders’ Cup World Championships that will be held Nov. 5 and 6 at Churchill Downs and he likes the hand he is holding.
“From top to bottom, this is the best group we’ve had,” said Pletcher, who has three Breeders’ Cup victories on his resume. “Certainly it is the best we’ve had for the Classic.”
The Classic candidate is Edward Evans’ four-time Grade I winner Quality Road, who went to the track at 6 o’clock Wednesday morning under exercise rider Patti Barry. Quality Road arrived at Churchill Downs at 4 a.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday after vanning from Belmont Park with Ladies’ Classic contender Malibu Prayer, also owned by Evans.
With the exception of Michael Tabor’s Allure d’Amour (Juvenile Fillies Turf), all of Pletcher’s Breeders’ Cup horses are at Churchill Downs more than a week before their races.
"I wanted Quality Road to have some extra time here and the others I wanted to have them have a work over the track for the first time so it made sense to bring them all in,” Pletcher said. “Allure d’Amour would fly in on Sunday (the 31st) once we are confident she will get in.”
Pletcher plans to work his Friday race entrants – More Than Real (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Life At Ten (Ladies’ Classic), Malibu Prayer and R Heat Lightning (Juvenile Fillies) -- on Saturday with the remainder of his Breeders’ Cup roster – Quality Road, Rose Catherine (Turf Sprint), Aikenite (Dirt Mile), Pluck (Juvenile Turf), Stay Thirsty (Juvenile) and Uncle Mo (Juvenile) – working on Sunday.
John Velazquez, who scored the first of his seven Breeders’ Cup victories here in 1998 aboard Da Hoss in the Mile, has the riding assignment on six Pletcher horses. Velazquez’s mounts are Quality Road, Uncle Mo, Life At Ten, R Heat Lightning, Aikenite and Allure d’Amour.
Pletcher will use Garrett Gomez and Javier Castellano on his other horses. Gomez is named on More Than Real, Pluck and Malibu Prayer. Castellano will ride Rose Catherine and Stay Thirsty.
Pletcher’s horses usually attract a lot of interest and the trainer was asked which member of this year’s Breeders’ Cup roster could be flying under the radar.
“Stay Thirsty may be under the radar because he has the same owner (Michael Repole as Uncle Mo, so he may be somewhat overlooked,” Pletcher said. “He broke his maiden impressively and was second in the Hopeful (GI). He is bred to run a lot further than he has.”
JAPAN’S RED DESIRE HAS EASY MORNING ON FIRST DAY ON TRACK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – The Tokyo Horse Racing Co.’s Red Desire (JPN) had an easy morning on her first day at the track at Churchill Downs as she began local preparations for the Breeders’ Cup.
With exercise rider Takashi Saito up, Red Desire had an easy canter once around the main track accompanied by a pony after spending five minutes in the mile chute.
“She will do the same tomorrow, but a little faster,” said Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for the 4-year-old filly’s ownership. Red Desire is expected to work Saturday and Kent Desormeaux will have the Breeders’ Cup mount.
Red Desire, who was cross-entered in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) as well as the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) which was the first preference, has had success against colts before. She broke her maiden at first asking against males and then ran third in the Japan Cup (GI) to close out 2009.
“She ran so well against the colts in the Japan, beating among others (two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf winner) Conduit, that we decided to go to Dubai,” Tada said. “We thought about a prep on turf against fillies, but she would have had to carry a lot of weight, so we tried the all-weather track and beat them all (in the Group II Maktoum Challenge’s third round).”
Red Desire finished 11th in the Dubai World Cup (GI) and then returned to Japan.
“She was not herself in the World Cup,” Tada said. “Her next race in Japan, she ran OK (finishing fourth), but was not in good condition. She was getting ready for a race in June and she bled in a workout and we gave her some time off.
“It was decided to bring her to the United States so she can be treated with Lasix,” Tada added.
Red Desire arrived at Belmont Park on Sept. 16 and two weeks later ran third as the favorite in the Flower Bowl Invitational (GI) under Desormeaux. She arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning after training hours.
HOBBY HAS TELLING READY FOR SECOND BC TURF TRY – Trainer Steve Hobby has one wish for the Breeders’ Cup regarding Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Telling.
“I just wish they’d run this at Saratoga,” Hobby said with a laugh as he prepared to take Telling to the track Wednesday morning.
It is understandable, given that Telling has won twice in two years with both victories coming in the Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga.
Telling completed 2009 with a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) last year at Santa Anita. On Monday, Telling arrived at Churchill Downs from Delaware Park for a run in this year’s renewal of the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“I think he is a little better this year,” Hobby said. “He came out of the Belmont Park race (the Grade I Turf Classic Invitational) really well. He was more tired this time last year.”
After the Breeders’ Cup, Telling got a five-month break.
“That break was good for him,” Hobby said. “That was something he had not had before and he started this year fresh.”
Telling, who will be ridden in the Breeders’ Cup by Javier Castellano, finished fifth in the Louisville Handicap (GIII) over the Matt Winn Turf Course in May.
“The turf was soft (yielding) that day and he wasn’t fit yet,” Hobby said of Telling’s second start of the year. “You really have to watch the weather here, because he is much better on firm ground.”
Hobby plans to work Telling on Saturday.
BARN TALK – How strong is the field pre-entered for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic? Try these figures on for size: There are eight Grade I winners among the 16 pre-entrants and nine millionaires. Combined, the field has won 49 percent of its starts, cumulatively winning 65 graded stakes including 34 Grade I events. Zenyatta, who will be seeking to close out her career with a spotless 20-for-20 record when she goes in the Classic, tops all pre-entrants in earnings ($6,404,580), victories (19), graded stakes wins (17) and Grade I wins (13). Only two-time Mile winner Goldikova (IRE) has double-figure totals in graded-stakes wins (12) and Grade I wins (11) among the other Breeders’ Cup pre-entrants. …
Richland Hills Stable and John Kuehl’s Secret Gypsy worked a bullet half-mile in :47.40 over a track labeled as fast after the morning renovation break. Fractions on the work, best of 32 at the distance, were :11:80, :23.40 and out five furlongs in 1:02.80. Trained by Ronny Werner, Secret Gypsy will enter the $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) on a three-race win streak. Robby Albarado has the mount. …
Horses for the Breeders’ Cup continued to make their way to Churchill Downs on Wednesday. Arriving shortly after noon from Keeneland were Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s Blame (Classic) and Columbine Stables’s J. B.’s Thunder (Juvenile) for trainer Al Stall Jr. Next to arrive from Keeneland was Darrell and Evelyn Yates’ Jordy Y (Juvenile Fillies or Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Gary and Mary West’s Major Gain (Juvenile Turf) for trainer Wayne Catalano. Slated for an early evening arrival from California was the Craig Family Trust’s Sidney’s Candy (Mile) for trainer John Sadler.