Dreadnaught set for rematch at Laurel

Rival `Ashkal' favored in Schapiro Cup

card also has Battle of Sexes

Horse racing

September 23, 2006|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Reporter

The grass is green, relatively smooth and likely to remain so for the $200,000 John D. Schapiro Memorial Breeders' Cup stake race at Laurel Park today - an important reason why trainer Tom Voss is bringing Dreadnaught, his multiple-graded stakes winner, here to take on favored Ashkal Way, an Irish-bred horse owned by Godolphin Stables Inc.

"Ashkal Way beat my horse last time out and may again," Voss said. "I considered going to ... Philadelphia, but thought that turf track might be pretty torn up by now. I think Laurel's is in good shape and if [Dreadnaught] is going to run well, he's going to run well here. And, if I didn't think I could win, I wouldn't come."

Also on today's card is an unusual race, the $60,000 Battle of the Sexes, a five-furlong invitational turf race that will have a field of 11 horses, eight geldings, 1 filly and two mares.

"In five-eighths of a mile on turf," said Lou Raffetto, president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, about the sprint, "sex means less than just how quick they are and how they handle the grass."

Which is why Nicole's Dream, the top sprinting mare in the country, is thought to be the best horse in the field. Without the 3-pound weight allowance given to females running against the males she'd be carrying top weight at 124 pounds. As it is, she will tote 121, just a pound less than Outcashem, the high-weight carrier among the boys.

Nicole's Dream, based in Chicago, ran in a mixed field last month at Calder Race Course in Miami and won. Spring Kitten, another female entry, ran against the boys in the Baltimore Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and finished third on Black-eyed Susan Day last spring.

"While trainers would prefer to run the same sex, they sometimes go out of category," Raffetto said. "This race provides an opportunity for these mares to compete before November and gives an opportunity for some of the colts to use it as a prep race for Maryland Million Day."

The last time Dreadnaught, a 6-year-old sired by Lac Ouimet with career winnings over $520,000, came to Laurel Park was last November for the $75,000 Laurel Turf Cup. It was a race he won, the only race he won last year while Voss was trying to figure out his preferred distance.

"We were running him 1 1/2 and 1 3/8 and weren't getting any pace," Voss said. "We found he needs something to finish . . . We decided to shorten him up a little bit [1 1/8 in the Laurel Turf Cup] and we were looking for an easy spot to get his confidence back. The Laurel course is very fast and he ran well on it."

So Voss is expecting another good race from Dreadnaught on the turf at 1 1/8 -miles today against Ashkal Way, the horse he lost to by a neck in the G-2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga, Aug. 26.

Ashkal Way's assistant trainer Rick Mettee said the horse is running so well right now that as of yesterday he was still debating whether he will send the horse to Laurel Park today or hold him out for a $250,000 G-2 race at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.

"I'm not 100 percent sure about [Laurel]," Mettee said. "We're trying to decide. For us the competition might turn out to be at the same level but the difference would be shipping five hours or staying here [at Belmont]."

With or without Ashkal Way, the field will be tough with Dreadnaught the second morning line favorite at 3-1 and Fishy Advice, who brings speed, third choice at 7-2.

Laurel's leading jockey Anna (Rosie) Napravnik is to ride Dreadnaught.

"I like that girl [Napravnik]," Voss said. "She rides very well. She's not going to get him beat. ... And he'll run well. He likes this cooler weather. He likes the fall, just like me."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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