'Quest' for Eclipse today in N.Y. 3-year-old colt's final race is Cigar Mile at Aqueduct

November 28, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Concluding a career of searing disappointment and spectacular success, Coronado's Quest will run his final eight furlongs today in the $300,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in New York.

Named after the two-time Horse of the Year, the Cigar Mile will provide the stage for the last appeal of Coronado's Quest for this year's Eclipse Award as outstanding 3-year-old male. The voting will take place at year's end.

"I'm not going to get into analyzing that until after the race," said Stuart S. Janney III, a resident of Butler and majority owner of the flashy colt. "But I think he's got to be one of the favorites to win it. Obviously this race is important."

His chief competitor for 3-year-old honors is Real Quiet, who lost the Triple Crown by a nose in the Belmont after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Those were his only victories this year. Real Quiet has been sidelined with an injury since the Belmont.

If Coronado's Quest wins the Cigar Mile, he would own three Grade I and three Grade II victories in 1998. No other 3-year-old could claim as many Grade I scores.

A triumph today would also cap a roller-coaster season that nearly ended early this year with Coronado's Quest's bizarre behavior in Florida. Before races at Gulfstream Park, Coronado's Quest threw his rider and froze on his way to the track.

But after surgery to correct a breathing problem, Coronado's Quest returned to his home base at Belmont Park and reeled off five wins in a row, starting with the Wood Memorial Stakes and concluding with the Travers.

At Aqueduct, where he'll be heavily favored against seven competitors, Coronado's Quest is undefeated in four attempts. According to the Daily Racing Form, Coronado's Quest with Kent Desormeaux aboard is the early 7-5 favorite. Affirmed Success, the beaten favorite in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, is 5-2.

The regally bred Coronado's Quest, a son of Forty Niner and the Damascus mare Laughing Look, will be retired after the race to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. He will stand at stud next year as the hottest new stallion prospect, commanding a higher fee than even Skip Away, the likely Horse of the Year.

As Coronado's Quest prepares for his exit, another horse with Maryland connections waits in the wings to replace him on the national scene.

Owned, trained and ridden by Marylanders, Millions will run at Aqueduct in the race before the Cigar Mile -- the $200,000 Remsen, a 1 1/8 -mile stakes for 2-year-olds. If Millions wins, he could become the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Leon Blusiewicz, the East Baltimore native who conditions Millions, said this colt is the best he's trained. And Blusiewicz, 66, a trainer for nearly three decades, has trained some good ones, including Grade I winners Snow Plow and Willa On The Move.

"Everything he does, he does high caliber," Blusiewicz said of Millions. "This horse has done everything right. He's got it all."

Blusiewicz bought him for $34,000 at the September 1997 yearling sale at Keeneland. He liked his pedigree -- a son of Dehere, the 1992 champion 2-year-old colt, and the broodmare Liturgism, a daughter of Native Charger.

But the yearling colt was a little thin, a little toed-in, a whole lot immature. Blusiewicz sold part of the horse to his long-time friend Clayton Peters, a resident of Timonium and owner of Peters' Pallets, manufacturer of wooden pallets and skids.

Blusiewicz sent the colt for breaking to the former steeplechase rider David Washer in South Carolina. The trainer went down three months later.

"I could not believe he'd grown up so much," Blusiewicz said. "I said, 'This can't be my horse.' "

He called Peters. Blusiewicz became so enthusiastic that before he knew it he was comparing the colt to Seattle Slew. If he's like that, Blusiewicz said, "he's worth millions."

And thus the colt was named.

After finishing sixth in his debut at Saratoga, Millions won three straight, including the 1 1/16-mile First State Stakes at Delaware Park and the 1 1/8 -mile Laurel Futurity on Halloween at Laurel Park. Of the 10 entrants in the Remsen, Millions is the only one with two wins around two turns.

Nevertheless, Millions won't be favored. Doneraile Court will. A $1 million yearling trained by Nick Zito, the Seattle Slew colt has won his past two, both at one mile.

Jerry Bailey will ride Doneraile Court. Edgar Prado, the Maryland star leading the nation's jockeys in wins, will ride Millions.

Another horse from Maryland will race in the Remsen -- the long-shot Wondertross, a full brother to Concerto trained by John J. Tammaro III.

And in the $200,000 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies, Aqueduct's third stakes of the day, Magic Broad will likely rank among the favorites. She is Maryland-owned (Robert E. Meyerhoff), -trained (Richard W. Small) and -ridden (Prado).

Pub Date: 11/28/98

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