Concern returns to Baltimore

November 07, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Maryland-bred Concern, the Breeders' Cup Classic winner, shipped out of Churchill Downs yesterday faster than he shipped in.

His trainer, Dick Small, said the horse was back in his stall at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore by the time Small and the colt's owner, Robert Meyerhoff, addressed reporters at a post-Breeders' Cup media breakfast in Louisville yesterday morning.

Concern had lost his seven previous starts, but Small said, "it was hard to be discouraged even though he wasn't winning. He'd run his race every time. When Bertrando won that race in California [the Oct. 15 Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita Park], I was kind of hoping they would bite and supplement him to the Classic. That guaranteed that there would be real speed up front. There isn't any doubt that my horse is a 1 1/4 -mile horse and that would have to help us."

Concern rallied from about 13 lengths off the pace and defeated Tabasco Cat by a neck after Bertrando set a quick early pace.

The victory in the Classic virtually guarantees Concern will be named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year over another Grade I state-bred winner, Taking Risks.

Small added that it is "probably unlikely" that Concern will race again this year, "although he's just getting good. He thrives on racing even though he's sort of a little fellow. He ran 13 times this year at eight or nine different racetracks.

"We have to look at [next year's] Strub series in California because it is for 4-year-olds," Small said. "The Pimlico Special is right in our backyard and the Breeders' Cup is at Belmont Park. So we will look at their races in the fall leading up to it."

Most likely Concern will winter at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, where Small will be racing a division of his stable.

D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Classic runner-up Tabasco Cat, will also be pointing his horse to the Strub series.

Lukas went on to map out plans for his pair of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners.

Flanders broke two bones in her right front leg. "Probably somewhere through the stretch," Lukas said, even though she continued and defeated stablemate Serena's Song.

"To me the telltale sign was that she stayed on her left lead all through the stretch and she's usually good about switching leads," Lukas said. "However, Pat Day didn't feel any distress, until he pulled her up."

Flanders was transported to a Lexington, Ky., veterinary clinic yesterday and was scheduled to be operated on at 3 p.m. by Drs. Robert Copelan and Larry Bramlage.

They will insert a pin to pull the two fractures in her cannon bone and sesamoid bone together, Lukas said.

"It'll take three or four months before we'll know if she'll race again," Lukas said.

Meanwhile, Lukas will ship Juvenile Colts winner Timber Country to California and rest him at his training center in the Santa Ynez Valley before gearing up for a 1995 Triple Crown campaign.

"He'll race once a month, starting in February and prep for the Kentucky Derby on the West Coast," Lukas said. "He will follow the same program Tabasco Cat used in getting ready for this year's Triple Crown."

Although no Juvenile Colts winner has ever won a Triple Crown race, Lukas said he's not worried by the jinx.

"I think some of the previous winners of the Juvenile, including some of my own colts, were not the type to go on to the Triple Crown. But this colt is, and I feel I know something about it after running in those races for 14 years," he said. "This horse has all the ingredients -- the pedigree, the size, the scope, the running style and the rider [Day]."

Timber Country, the son of Woodman, was purchased by Lukas clients W. T. Young, Robert Lewis and Graham Beck for $500,000 at the 1993 Keeneland (Ky.) Summer Yearling Sale.

The horse will race in Lewis' colors in the West, Young's colors in the Midwest and Beck's colors in the East.

In a surprise announcement, J. Mack Robinson, whose daughter Jill owns Sprint winner Cherokee Run, said the horse will not be retired as planned.

"My daughter has gone against my advice and wants to race him again next year," Robinson said. Cherokee Run had been scheduled to be retired and sent to stud at Jonabell Farm in Lexington.

The announcement caught the horse's trainer, Frank Alexander, off guard.

"I had already made shipping plans to send him on to Lexington this morning," Alexander said. "Now, I'm only too happy to switch, and send him back to Belmont Park."

Alexander said he had three major races in mind for Cherokee Run during 1994: the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park; the De Francis Dash at Laurel Park; and the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs.

"We won two out of the three," Alexander said, with the only defeat coming to Holy Bull in the Met Mile.

It's likely Cherokee Run will try to defend his De Francis Dash title at Laurel in 1995.

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