- Shit. When rain seems as inevitable as it does for New York this weekend, it makes me not want to even pick up the Form. Scratches, off the turf, mud-lovers, mud-haters; the game is tough enough under perfect conditions; rain just adds so much more uncertainty. I remember reading Tom Ainslie advising readers to just stay home if there’s rain, though he did make an exception for when it’s poured so much that the track becomes undeniably speed-favoring. That looks to be the case for this weekend in New York, but that strategy has never been a help to me. Basically, when it rains, my game just gets washed down the drain, and I’m sure that a great deal of it is just me being psyched out.
It’s a real pity for NYRA on what is the last weekend of meaningful Breeders’ Cup preps here. The association is obviously not having a great week, and bad weather as well as the fact that the Yanks are at least scheduled to play at 4 PM will certainly mean a sparse crowd. First Samurai and Henny Hughes are scheduled to meet in the Champagne, and Adieu is slated for her first start since winning the Spinaway, in the G1 Frizette. “With the rain, I'm not sure how she would handle a wet track," Pletcher said. "I think she'll be okay." [Bloodhorse] I’m anxious to see two-year old fillies in action to find someone I like to beat Folklore, my best bet-against favorite prospect for Breeders’ Cup day thus far. But besides putting a damper on Saturday, the rain will effect Breeders’ Cup day too by adding an element of uncertainty to the prep races run over the wet track (assuming, hoping, that October 29 is dry).
For what it’s worth, of the Champagne entrants, only Too Much Bling has ever run on a wet track, running third in his debut. If I do bet the race, I’ll be keeping in mind that assessment of Henny Hughes by the veteran Saratoga clocker. Plus, he followed that work up with a half-mile in :47 1/5, breezing, the best of 31 moves at the distance. [Bloodhorse]
The outlook at Keeneland seems a bit better. I often complain about the difficulty in getting up-to-date track conditions, and on their website, Keeneland actually has a link for a live webcam of the track. NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!! Too bad it doesn’t work, at least on the browser I’m using now.
The Lane’s End Breeders Futurity, to be run around two turns at the BC Juvenile distance of a mile and a sixteenth (remember, that will be a one-turn affair at Belmont) drew a full field of 14, while the Champagne, which has the same half-million dollar purse, not to mention the fact that it’s on the same track as the Breeders’ Cup, only drew eight. Whatsmore, of those eight, three are cross-entered in the Keeneland race, so it’s possible that Henny Hughes and First Samurai won’t have much company, if they both do run in the expected muck.
The Breeders Futurity looks like a wide open affair with a deep field of legitimate contenders. Gary Stevens had proclaimed Stream Cat (Black Minnaloushe) as one of the most explosive 2-year-old he had ever ridden, but he takes off to ride Henny Hughes; he’ll be replaced by Kieran Fallon. Stream Cat comes off wins over the turf at Saratoga and the polytrack at Turfway, and will now try yet another surface. (When we last left Keeneland last spring, we were hearing, at least from those trainers whose horses had run poorly there, that races over that track are virtually meaningless and can be thrown out due to the quirkiness of the track, remember that?) However, Stream Cat’s Beyer at Turfway was a mere 73, and the fig man himself confirmed that number to the Form.
"He ran a slow race any way you cut it," said Beyer, who took such a keen interest in the new Polytrack surface at Turfway that he personally compiled the figures throughout the fall meet that ended Thursday night. "I checked and rechecked the fig and found it to be accurate."The highest Beyer in the field was earned by High Cotton (Dixie Union), one of those Todd Pletcher second-out winners I’ve been noting. He’s coming off of his maiden win at Belmont in which he earned a 92. Also in the field is Laity, by Pulpit, whose stud fee is going up to $80,000 from 60K. He won the Cradle at Riudoso Downs by 11 3/4 lengths, earning a Beyer of 83, but could face a tough task from the 12 post.
- Also at Keeneland on Saturday, Australian star Alinghi faces nine males in the Shadwell Turf Mile.
"They just want to show her off," [Bobby] Frankel said. "They want to win a Grade I in America, and if they can beat the boys in a Grade I … In Australia, they're really into her."And elsewhere in Lexington, at the Red Mile, one-time top rated three-year old pacer Rocknroll Hanover will get a shot to avenge his loss in the Little Brown Jug as he will one again face that race’s winner P Forty Seven.
Frankel said the owners aren't particularly thinking of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, for which she would require a $200,000 supplement, "but they're eligible to change their mind after the (Shadwell)." [Louisville Courier-Journal]