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Breeders' Cup News - Mon. Oct. 20

Churchill Downs Communications | 01/14/2009 #

It was a mixed bag of news for Arlington-related horses pointing toward this week's Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park Friday and Saturday. [asset|height=12|width=100]
The day began with some bad news of Modesty Handicap winner Communique was declared from the Filly & Mare Turf with an abcess in her right front hoof.

“She worked good Saturday morning,” said trainer G.R. (Rusty) Arnold from Keeneland, “but she had a pulse in the foot this morning. We had the blacksmith pull the shoe and revealed the abscess. It’s not serious, but the timing is obviously bad. The plan is to race her next year.”

In other news:
Even without Communique, the Filly & Mare Turf is chock full of Arlington-raced horses led by Mauralakana, victorious in five of seven starts and the earner of more than $1 million since being transferred to trainer Christophe Clement this year, arrived from New York on Sunday and jogged Monday morning under exercise rider Tobias Coles.


She is coming to the race in terrific shape, according to assistant trainer Nicholas Balachard, who has worked for Clement for 15 years.

“The Beverly D. was a powerful race for her,” said Balachard. “There should be more pace in this race and that’s good. She’d rather it be firm going, but she’s proved she can run on anything.”

***
Reluctant Guest Stakes heroine Forever Together was sent to the main track at Keeneland Monday morning for a 1 1/2m gallop under Barry Wiseman in preparation for a start in the Filly & Mare Turf.

The 4yo daughter of Belong to Me is scheduled to breeze 3f on Tuesday morning before shipping to Santa Anita.


Forever Together began her career with three straight main-track triumphs, but attempts to stretch her out were unsuccessful.


“She had a couple of bad races and got sour on us,” trainer Jonathan Sheppard said. “She started not wanting to train. After we took her to Keeneland in the spring, she really blossomed. She liked training on Polytrack. I figured if she didn’t like dirt that I’d try her on turf.”


Forever Together’s attitude changed and so did her level of performance, starting with a stakes triumph at Arlington Park in her first turf start in May. She subsequently became a strong candidate for the Filly & Mare Turf with victories in the Diana at Saratoga and the recent First Lady at Keeneland.


Julien Leparoux, who was aboard for those two major stakes scores, has the return mount.

 

***
Vacare, the second of two Christophe Clement trainees entered in the Filly & Mare Turf, galloped on Monday with exercise rider Paul Turner in the irons.


“She has a great turn of foot,” assistant trainer Nicholas Balachard said. “She ran very well last time out in the Yellow Ribbon here at Santa Anita, and was closing fast to get second to Wait a While.”


Some have questioned whether the 1 1/4 m distance will be too much for Vacare, but Balachard is not among them.


“The mile-and-a-quarter won’t bother her,” Balachard said. “There will be 12 of them in it, and everyone deserves a chance.”


Jose Valdivia Jr. will be aboard Vacare in the Filly & Mare Turf.

***

Secretariat Stakes winner Winchester, a 3yo son of Theatrical, arrived in California early Monday after a flight from England and spent the day in quarantine.

Trainer Dermot Weld has given the ride in the Turf to Pat Smullen, who was aboard in the colt’s maiden score this spring.
***
Terrain, the adjudged winner of the Arlington-Washington Futurity, galloped 1m at Keeneland on Monday and will join stablemate My Pal Charlie on a Wednesday flight to California. On Saturday, the colt, most recently second to Square Eddie in Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity, breezed 4f in 48 2/5.

“He’s sitting on go,” said trainer Al Stall Jr.


Jockey Jamie Theriot, aboard for all of Terrain’s four career starts, will be back aboard on Saturday.

***
The Wayne Catalano-trained tandem of Dirt Mile hopoeful Lewis Michael and Juvenile Filly Turf potential starter Sugar Mom have arrived in Southern California for the Cup.

Lewis Michael, the 5yo son of Rahy will make his third Breeders’ Cup appearance on Saturday. Eleventh in the 2006 Sprint at Churchill Downs, the Wayne Catalano trainee finished fifth in last year’s Dirt Mile over a sloppy Monmouth strip.


“That was a nightmare,” Catalano said of the experience. “The weather was bad, the track was a mess. We didn’t have any reservations (about running). It was an unknown. You don’t know until you try. We just hoped to have good results, and it didn’t turn out that way.”


Lewis Michael came out of the race with “an ankle issue.” Following several months of rest, Catalano readied him for another run at the Breeders’ Cup.


“We had him fit to run in June, but thought it was best to wait for the Sea o’Erin ( Arlington Park , July 26, 1m on turf),” Catalano explained. “We figured he wouldn’t be at his best that day (finished fourth), but it was good to get that one under him.”


Also pre-entered in the Sprint, Lewis Michael has a first preference in the Dirt Mile.


“We’d run good (in the Sprint), but in that race we’d need the right race shape, and deep closers haven’t done too well on that track (Pro-Ride),” Catalano said. “He has the right running style for the Mile. He can lay closer, and get the right trip.”


Eibar Coa has the riding assignment on Lewis Michael.


“Mr. (Frank) Calabrese (owner) picks the jockeys,” Catalano said.

A $30,000 maiden claimer just a few short months ago, Sugar Mom has thrived since arriving in the Wayne Catalano stable.


“(Bloodstock agent) Tim Kegel called me on this horse,” said Steve Leving, for the Frank Calabrese operation Steve Leving said. “He’s a friend who has standards. This is the third stakes winner we’ve acquired through him.”


Winless from three sprint starts at Churchill, Sugar Mom arrived in the Catalano barn in early July following a private purchase.

“Her mother Plenty of Sugar was a grade III winner on turf and she was second in the Coaching Club American Oaks,” Leving said. “She has a half-brother that was grade I placed over fences.

She needed to do something other that what she had been doing. Based on her pedigree, I thought she had to improve in two turn races on Polytrack or turf.”

 
****
Finally, Mr. Nightlinger, a 4yo son of Indian Charlie, brings a five-race win streak into Saturday’s inaugural Turf Sprint for trainer Bret Calhoun, who will be making his first Breeders’ Cup appearance.

“I had Cactus Ridge for the Juvenile a couple of years ago, but he got hurt a week before the race,” Calhoun said. We’ve had some nice horses, but this (having a Breeders’ Cup starter) is huge for us.”

Mr. Nightlinger raced on grass only once from his first 13 starts. Always a useful horse, he’s recently developed into a turf sprint specialist.

“We ran him 7 ½ furlongs on the turf in the spring of his 3yo season,” Calhoun recalled. “He ran a big race, but speed doesn’t hold up very well over that course, and he finished fourth. We really didn’t have the right opportunity to get back on the grass, so we got back on the 3yo plan.”

That plan included a run in the Lone Star Derby, a race in which he battled for the early lead before finishing a respectable third at odds of 28-1.


“Then he colicked and missed some time,” Calhoun said of a nearly four-month layoff. “We wanted to get him back on the turf this winter at Fair Grounds, but the races didn’t fill. Our only option was the Shakertown at Keeneland.”


Sent off at odds of 21-1, Mr. Nightlinger led at every call, and he hasn’t lost since, rattling off four more gate-to-wire tallies, the most recent of which came in the Arlington Sprint.


“He’s been good for a while, but the move to turf turned him into a different horse,” Calhoun said. “There were a couple of fast horses in the Arlington Sprint, and I thought there was a chance that we might have to lay off of them, but two or three jumps out of the gate, he was already in front. The best thing about him is he’s fast, but at the end he’s still running. He doesn’t come back to them. He’s just been running them off their feet.”


Mr. Nightlinger is scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita on Wednesday. Jamie Theriot, who is perfect from five starts as the colt’s partner, is slated to ride on Saturday.