Maryland-bred Awad set for road trip to Tokyo Ryan-owned turf runner is in $4 million Japan Cup

November 03, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,SUN STAFF

Awad is about to become the first Maryland-bred horse to run in the Japan Cup.

The 5-year-old thoroughbred, who won the Arlington Million earlier this year, but then was bogged down in the heavy going and finished sixth last weekend in the Breeders' Cup Turf, is expected to leave his home base at Belmont Park in about two weeks and be flown 6,700 miles to Tokyo Race Course for the $4 million stakes Nov. 26.

"Jim had to twist my arm a little bit to do this," said David Donk, who trains Awad for Jim Ryan, the Marylander who bred the horse, and his deceased sire, 1983 Belmont Stakes winner, Caveat, at his Ryehill Farm in Mount Airy.

Donk originally wanted to give Awad a rest and campaign him this winter in Florida "and wait until the horse is about to be retired [possibly next year]," he said, before sending him to compete halfway around the world.

"It's an 18-hour plane trip and a 14-hour time change," Donk said.

"He's only 5, and I think he's got several more big races in him."

But Ryan believed "we might get lucky in Japan," Donk added. "We should catch a firm grass course and he would rather run him now and give him a good long rest when he gets home then freshen him now and run in Florida.

"So what we'll do is go to Japan, and then come back and shoot for another win in the Arlington Million next summer."

Awad has won 12 of 45 starts, earned $1.8 million and comes off his finest year yet with two 1995 Grade I victories. He ranks behind only Sandpit and Breeders' Cup Turf winner Northern Spur as this year's leading grass performer.

Sandpit, the West Coast Grade I winner, finished fifth in the Japan Cup last year and then returned to the United States and had a successful 1995 season.

The Japan Racing Association invited four North American runners -- Sandpit, Awad, Northern Spur and Shemarin -- to race in the Japan Cup and picked Turk Passer and Lassigny as alternates.

Northern Spur is expected to pass on the race, which would leave a space open for Turk Passer.

Shemarin has yet to race in the United States but is trained in California by Rodney Rash and is scheduled to make his first U.S. start tomorrow in the Volante Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He is owned by Gary Tanaka of London.

"The big question marks are how he'll handle the trip over there and if there's any pace in the race," Donk said about Awad. The horse rallies from off the pace and needs a quick early pace in order to stage an effective late run. The Japan Cup is carded at 1 1/2 miles and all starters carry equal weight of 126 pounds.

"I expect he'll run a real credible race," Donk said.

Last year U.S. turf champion, Paradise Creek, finished second in the Japan Cup. Golden Pheasant, in 1991, was the last U.S. winner.

Eddie Maple, Awad's regular jockey, will have the mount in Tokyo.

'Photo' draws No. 7 post

S J's Photo, Maryland's champion trotter, drew post No. 7 in the eight-horse field for tomorrow night's $40,000 Cloverleaf Invitational Trot at Rosecroft Raceway.

The field, in post position order, includes Another Blizzard, Gleam, Wesgate Crown, B Cor Pete, Federal Yankee, Hi I Q, S J's Photo and Ambro Marshall.

The Invitational is the ninth race on Rosecroft's 13-race live card and has a 10:22 p.m. post time.

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