John's Call can't handle Bald Eagle

10-year-old horse seventh as La Reine's Terms wins

September 09, 2001|By Pete Bielski | Pete Bielski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The classy veteran looked more like an old man yesterday at Pimlico.

John's Call, the Breeders' Cup hopeful, was an also-ran in the non-graded $100,000 Bald Eagle Breeders' Cup Handicap. The 10-year-old finished seventh, 5 1/2 lengths behind winner La Reine's Terms in the one-mile race on the turf.

The result left trainer Thomas Voss scratching his head. Breeders' Cup? Dueling Grounds? Canadian International? Pimlico? After the race, he admitted being pessimistic in going just eight furlongs, even though John's Call was getting Lasix treatment for the first time.

"He's not going to go a mile at this stage of the game and win," said Voss, putting perspective to the subpar outing by the horse that banked $1.1 million last year, but only $37,000 this year, including a last-place finish in the Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga last month when he bled through the nostrils.

Unlike John's Call, who was basically trying a sprint in the Bald Eagle, La Reine's Terms was playing the right game: on the grass and going a mile.

Jockey Larry Reynolds kept the Larry Murray-trained 6-year-old just off the pace for the first half mile, then accelerated to an unchallenged romp through the stretch. Cherokeeinthehills, at 19-1, finished second, just ahead of In Frank's Honor, a minor-stakes runner from the William Mott stable in New York.

The two long shots sparked a $695.80 exacta payoff and a $3,553.20 triple.

"I was worried when I saw the overnight and John's Call and In Frank's Honor were both in it," Murray said. "I told my owners that this was a tough spot and that we could probably find an easier race at the Meadowlands. But they wanted to go."

It was the eighth win in 28 lifetime starts for LaReine's Terms, all on the grass. Murray said he plans to run the son of Private Terms in the Maryland Million Turf on Oct. 13.

LaReine's Terms never had to worry about his top foes. In Frank's Honor broke last and did all he could to finish third. John's Call broke eighth and moved forward on the inside to fifth place entering the stretch, but lost any chance when traffic forced jockey Jean-Luc Samyn to check along the rail.

"I wasn't really shooting for anything with this race, other than to see if we can get through this bleeding thing," Voss said. "This race was too short, but it looked like he finished good and there was no indication of bleeding. These horses just didn't come back to us today. He was too far off the pace. Going a mile and a half is a lot different."

Voss, who expects to retire John's Call at the end of the year, said he has not ruled out one last run in the Breeders' Cup, whose 1 1/2 -mile distance should better suit John's Call.

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