International again long on appeal

October 03, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Returning the Washington D.C. International to its former distance of 1 1/4 miles seems to be working.

Taking Risks had barely cooled out from his victory on Saturday in the Maryland Million Classic when attention in Lenny Hale's racing office at Laurel Race Course shifted to the coming Turf Festival, a four-stakes program to be run Oct. 15-16.

For the first time last year, the International was shortened to a mile and only one European entry, Inchinoor, showed up.

It didn't take long for Hale to get the message. He immediately reverted to the 10-furlong distance for the 43rd renewal of the $600,000 turf stakes on Oct. 15.

Now it appears that the track, in addition to attracting Eclipse Award candidate Paradise Creek to the race, has a shot of adding five European runners -- three from France and two from England -- to the lineup as well as other runners Binary Light, Astudillo and Laurel-based Maryland Moon.

"I don't regret shortening the race at all," Hale said. "It was a good experiment. Now we know for sure from the input we've gotten from the European trainers what distance to run the race and where to position it on the calendar [three weeks before the Breeders' Cup]."

Among the expected European entries are Group I French horses Bigstone and Marildo; Grade I-placed French runner Flag Down; Group II English winner Beneficial; and Torch Rouge, an English 3-year-old who has won listed (non-Group) stakes.

Hale said that Paradise Creek and the five European horses are International-bound because they are especially suited to the 1 1/4 -mile distance.

Marildo is trained by David Smaga, who won the 1991 International with Leariva.

Bigstone is owned by Daniel Wildenstein, whose filly, All Along, won in 1983 and was later named U.S. Horse of the Year.

Beneficial comes from the English stable of Geoffrey Wragg, but goes on to trainer Neil Drysdale's barn at Santa Anita Park after the International.

French import Flag Down recently finished second in his first U.S. start in the Grade I Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park.

Torch Rouge, from the English barn of Barry Hills, will stay in Maryland after the International and compete three weeks later in the Laurel Turf Cup.

The past weekend might have featured the Maryland Million at Laurel, but in Paris, it was "Arc" weekend at Longchamps.

Neither Carnegie, winner of the Arc de Triomphe, nor any of the runners-up are expected to compete in the International, Hale said.

But there is the possibility that a filly named Andromaque, winner of the Group II Prix de l'Opera yesterday, might go in the All Along Stakes at Laurel on Oct. 16. In that race, an expected competitor for Andromaque will be Maryland Million Ladies stakes winner, Mz. Zill Bear.

Timothy Capps, Laurel's vice president of communications who helps Hale with arrangements for the European runners, said that "over the next few days we'll be faxing and calling our race representatives in England and France. In about three days, we'll have a pretty good idea just how many European horses will be shipping to Laurel for the Turf Festival."

NOTES: Ayanka and Zola Zola won the two divisions of the Moonlight Jig Stakes yesterday at Laurel. Ayanka, a 3-year-old filly, was purchased by Jan Vogel of St. Paul, Minn., earlier this year from Allen Paulson as a surprise birthday present for her husband, Harvey C. Vogel Jr. The price of the filly? "It was $40,000," Jan Vogel said. "Thank goodness, she's worked out." . . . There is no turf racing at Laurel this week. The course, which was soaked by weekend rains, is being preserved for Saturday's Grade III Martha Washington Stakes, Hale said.

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