- Bellamy Road’s season-ending injury deprives us of one of the very few possible remaining scenarios to make the Breeders Cup Classic anything but another tour de force for Saint Liam. The idea was that he would move forward from his Travers, deliver a big win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and then go on to the big race ready to roll. However, even that may have been a longshot. He would have had to show significant improvement over his Travers, which, in my opinion, was not as great as some made it out to be, to contend even with older horses such as…...er…..Borrego? Come to think of it, which older horses will be running in the Gold Cup anyway? Trainer Doug O’Neill has indicated that Lava Man, who was vanned off the track after the Pacific Classic, would stay in California and train up to the Breeders Cup.
Afleet Alex, even at 100%, certainly wouldn’t have been a lock against Saint Liam despite questions about the latter’s ability to get 10 furlongs, so Flower Alley certainly doesn’t do the trick for me. It seems like the main hope, other than an invader from Europe, is Richard Mandella’s Rock Hard Ten, who we haven’t seen since he won the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.
Given considerable time to recover from what his trainer, Richard Mandella, described as "stiffness," Rock Hard Ten has been training sensationally [most recently a mile in 1:37 1/5] for his return Oct. 1 in the Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita. That's the same schedule Mandella used in 2003 with Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect.- Last year’s Classic champ Ghostzapper will command a stud fee of $200,000.
"He could run next week," Mandella said about Rock Hard Ten. "He hasn't had a bad day in three months, and he's actually ahead of schedule. He'll go into the Goodwood as ready as a horse can be."[Dallas-Ft. Worth Telegram]
The fee is believed to be a record for an incoming stallion in North America in recent years and eclipses the first-year fees of $150,000 for Fusaichi Pegasus in 2001 and $100,000 for Empire Maker, Mineshaft, and Smarty Jones also this decade. [Bloodhorse]Hey, not too bad for a horse who won exactly one race over a fast track at two turns in his career.
- Discreet Cat earned the highest Beyer for a 2 year old this year (106) in his maiden win at Saratoga, but he is apparently not headed for the Breeders Cup Juvenile, nor for this Saturday’s Futurity at Belmont.
[Trainer Stanley] Hough said Discreet Cat had a little bit of a shin issue entering the race, and Hough is likely to proceed conservatively with the colt through the fall.- Well, I guess Better Talk Now can win on a firm turf. His win in the Man O’War on Saturday came over a course that can’t be much drier, and his rabbit may have been irrelevant. Shake the Bank was out there by himself, with no one to really “rabbit” against. With Relaxed Gesture and King’s Drama rating far behind the leader until catching him with 3/8ths to go, Better Talk Now still had to close into a final three furlongs of :35.71 and a last furlong of :11.98. King’s Drama was quite impressive as well, showing the ability to rate; Relaxed Gesture always comes up a bit short against these.
Hough said he is more likely to use races like the Cowdin, Nashua, and Remsen than he is the Futurity, Champagne, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"He's doing well, I just don't want to rush him into something he's not ready for," Hough said. "The shin is better. It seems to have responded well to treatment."
Though Hough said nothing is definite, he did say that the Breeders' Cup "is not a priority for me." [Daily Racing Form]
And if you thought Better Talk Now was impressive, consider this about Shakespeare’s win on Sunday, courtesy of the Form’s Mike Watchmaker.
He inhaled the leaders through a fourth quarter-mile in 22.50 seconds and cruised through the final eighth of a nine-furlong race in 11.44, meaning he went his last three furlongs in under 34 seconds. That's sensational, no matter how fast the rain-starved turf at Belmont may be. Despite his inexperience, Shakespeare may try to get to the Breeders' Cup Turf through the Oct. 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. This colt is a freak, so don't put it past him.And remember, he was under wraps as he passed under the finish line.