Gang's all here as Coronado's Quest checks in McGaughey's hopes hinge on burnout by favorites, final sprint by his colt

November 07, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Coronado's Quest arrived about 6 a.m. yesterday after an all-night plane ride and van excursion from Belmont Park. The 3-year-old colt was the last of the Breeders' Cup Classic contenders to take up residence at Churchill Downs.

His trainer, Shug McGaughey, said the decision to compete in the Classic was based on the fact that some 3-year-olds run the race of their lives late in the year, just as some older horses are tailing off.

The perfect scenario for Coronado's Quest, he said, would be for Skip Away and Gentlemen to hook up early, and for Coronado's Quest to race at their heels, poised for one late run.

Stuart S. Janney III , the Marylander who owns three-quarters of Coronado's Quest, visited the barn.

"We wouldn't have come if we didn't think we had a chance of winning the race or finishing in the top three," he said.

Janice and Robert McNair's Stonerside Stable owns one quarter of Coronado's Quest. Stonerside also owns one quarter of Touch Gold.

Frank Stronach, the Canadian industrialist, owns the remainder of Touch Gold, as well as Awesome Again. Under the rules of common ownership, the three horses must be one betting interest.

Backing the 'Lemon'

Although D. Wayne Lukas entered five 2-year-olds in the Juvenile and Nick Zito trains Rick Pitino's The Groom Is Red, Scotty Schulhofer says he wouldn't trade Lemon Drop Kid for any horse in the race.

Lemon Drop Kid defeated Lukas' Yes It's True in the Grade I Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park.

Jeanne "Jinny" Vance owns Lemon Drop Kid. Along with her husband, Laddie Dance, she owns Taylor's Purchase Farm in Sparks. Vance bought the colt for $200,000 at last year's September Keeneland yearling sale.

She named him after a champion fine-harness horse she remembered from childhood. She found out later "Lemon Drop Kid" was a Saratoga tout in Damon Runyon fiction.

"It kind of suits him. He's a cool customer," said Vance, who has owned horses for years.

"We've had moderate success, but nothing like Lemon Drop Kid. If all goes well, if he shows he's that kind of horse, we'll try the spring classics."

Belief affirmed

The trainer at Churchill Downs exuding the most confidence this week is Rick Schosberg, whose Affirmed Success is the 2-1 favorite in the Sprint.

First or second in six straight sprints (beaten only by Kelly Kip, who is sidelined with an injury), Affirmed Success won the Grade Vosburgh Stakes six weeks ago at Belmont Park. No winner of the Vosburgh has ever won the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"I'm not worried about any jinxes," Schosberg said, noting that the statistic is skewed because for years the Vosburgh was closer to the Breeders' Cup.

The 4-year-old gelding's exercise rider, the 61-year-old Hans Nielsen, a native of Denmark, added: "I really don't think any other horse is going to beat Affirmed Success. He's so strong right now, and he loves this racetrack."

Which "Danseur"?

One of the most impressive performances of 1998 was Joyeux Danseur's powerful victory in the Grade I Early Times Turf Classic on May 2, Kentucky Derby day, at Churchill Downs.

After that, the 5-year-old turf specialist disappeared for five months. His trainer, Al Stall Jr., said Joyeux Danseur injured his right rear ankle.

His comeback race three weeks ago, the Keeneland Breeders' Cup Mile, was far less impressive. As the odds-on favorite, he failed to fire and finished fifth, soundly beaten by Favorite Trick.

"I thought he was 85, 90 percent for that race," Stall said. "But it turned out he was about 70 percent. He was really rusty.

"But I think I've got him ready this time. He's got brilliance; we know that. It's just a question of whether he's fit enough."

Uphill road for Prado

Edgar Prado has his work cut out in the Juvenile aboard Aly's Alley. The colt is not only 30-1, but he also drew the No. 14 post.

Prado had no better luck in the Cardinal Handicap, one of three races today not part of the Breeders' Cup.

He will ride Bursting Forth, who drew the far-outside 13 hole. H. Graham Motion trains the filly at Laurel Park. The Charlsie Cantey-trained The Unforgiven also competes in the Cardinal.

Miscellaneous

Carolyn Hine keeps getting asked about losing Skip Away after the Classic. He will retire to stud at Hopewell Farm in Midway, Ky.

"It brings tears to my eyes just to think about it," she said. Saeed Bin Suroor, the Dubai-born trainer of Swain, is a man of few words. But he said this about the Dubai World Cup runner-up, who is 10-1 in the Classic: "It's a very difficult race, but I think he has a very good chance to win."

Four winners of Breeders' Cup races will compete today: Skip Away in the Classic (he won last year's Classic), Favorite Trick in the Mile (he won last year's Juvenile), Chief Bearhart in the Turf (he won last year's Turf) and Da Hoss in the Mile (he won the Mile two years ago).

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