World's equine stars together on one card

Cup Distaff will crown top 3-year-old filly

`Six' seeks 2nd straight win in Mile

Horse Racing

October 30, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Although promoters call it the world thoroughbred championships, the Breeders' Cup more closely resembles an all-star game. Its eight races showcase many of the world's best thoroughbreds.

Distaff: America's top older female runners, Azeri and Sightseek, skipped the dance. Azeri's connections opted for the Classic, and Sightseek was recently retired.

But the race decides the championship for 3-year-old fillies. The contenders are Ashado, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks; Society Selection, winner of the Alabama Stakes, and Stellar Jayne, winner of the Mother Goose Stakes and Gazelle Handicap.

Making her last start before being bred to AP Indy, Storm Flag Flying, 4, can become the first horse to win different Breeders' Cup races. She won the Juvenile Fillies in 2002.

Although no European has won the Distaff, the French-based Nebraska Tornado races on dirt for the first time. She is a daughter of Storm Cat, the great American stallion, and might relish the surface.

Juvenile fillies: The dozen entrants have won half their 44 races. To the victor goes the Eclipse Award for 2-year-old filly.

H. Graham Motion, who trained for years at Laurel Park and now trains at Fair Hill, conditions the flighty gray filly Dance Away Capote.

Mile: The French filly Six Perfections, 4, tries to repeat her dramatic victory in last year's Mile. However, in her three races since, all in Europe, she's failed to win.

Trained by Robin Graham at Pimlico, Mr O'Brien breaks from the disadvantageous 14 post. Making only his second start on turf, Domestic Dispute retires at year's end to stand at stud at Northview Stallion Station in Maryland.

Sprint: The most thrilling 1 minute, 8 seconds in sports, the Sprint features 13 speedballs hellbent on racing six furlongs (three-quarters of a mile) as fast as their legs can carry them. Cajun Beat tries for his second straight Sprint victory.

Abbondanza is trained by Tim Tullock Jr. at Pimlico. Our New Recruit is a Maryland-bred making his second start since March 27, when he won the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, the world's richest sprint.

Filly and mare turf: Ouija Board is perhaps the best turf filly in the world. Based in England, she's only 3, but she won the English and Irish Oaks and finished a close third against males in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, one of the world's premier races.

Fair Hill-based Motion trains Film Maker.

Juvenile: Roman Ruler, trained by Bob Baffert, may be the one to break the Juvenile-Kentucky Derby jinx. (No Juvenile winner has won the Derby; the winner of this race inherits early Derby favoritism.) Representing the mid-Atlantic, Delaware Park-based Afleet Alex has won four of five.

Proud Accolade, trained by Todd Pletcher, is 3-for-3. Consolidator is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who leads Breeders' Cup trainers in starts (140), wins (17), seconds (20), thirds (14) and earnings ($18,608,400).

Turf: This is a showdown between Kitten's Joy, the American turf star, and Powerscourt, the European standout. Sarah and Ken Ramsey, who live in Kentucky, own Kitten's Joy as well as Nothing to Lose in the Mile and Roses in May in the Classic. Rarely, if ever, have owners had a stronger hand in the Breeders' Cup.

If Kitten's Joy, 3, wins, then enjoy the raging debate: Does Kitten's Joy, the turf specialist, deserve the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old male over Smarty Jones?

Making his first trip to the Breeders' Cup, Motion trains Better Talk Now, his third entrant of the day.

Classic: The Classic is extraordinarily deep, with six potential Horses of the Year. Azeri, the 6-year-old mare, can become the first female to win the Classic (two have tried, finishing third and sixth) and, like Storm Flag Flying, the first horse to win different Breeders' Cup races (she won the Distaff in 2002).

Owned by Frank Stronach, Ghostzapper has won all three of his races this year but has never raced the Classic's 1 1/4 miles. Trained by Dale Romans, Roses in May has won all five of his races this year. Romans, 38, also trains Kitten's Joy and is making his Breeders' Cup debut.

Funny Cide, winner of last year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness, remains a fan favorite. Birdstone is a gritty little 3-year-old who hasn't raced since Aug. 28, when he won the Travers. Pleasantly Perfect, who won last year's Classic, tries to become the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup and Classic the same year.

Long shot Bowman's Band begins his stud career next year at Maryland Stallion Station.

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