October 12, 2001

Taking Stock
The preps are over, and the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are almost upon us. What have we learned?

Basically, that preps are just that -- preparations for the big event. That translates to less-than-maximum efforts from odds-on horses, especially when races must be hard-fought in the stretch run in order to be won. Skeptical? Well, nearly every Breeders' Cup division had its own illustration of the point this year.

Distaff: Flute was pinned down on the rail in a three-horse battle in the final furlong in the Beldame at Belmont last Saturday. Jockey Jerry Bailey, aboard Flute, was riding hard, but he hardly was punishing his mount in tight quarters. Flute didn't look as dominating as she had in her three previous starts, but she didn't need to. She'll have something left in the tank 14 days from now.

However, the Exogenous that was embarrassed by Flute in the Alabama at Saratoga in August is not the same horse; Exogenous has blossomed with the return to Belmont Park and the addition of blinkers. She's the now horse, though, historically speaking, Beldame winners have not been able to repeat in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

The Spinster at Keeneland was a complete bust, with a 22-1 winner taking advantage of the perennial inside-speed bias en route to the upset. Some behind her were trying to make up ground late, but none too impressively.

Juvenile Fillies: You pummeled Cashier's Dream in their Frizette showdown last Saturday at Belmont, stamping herself as the obvious horse to beat on Oct. 27. Amazingly, both You and Cashier's Dream began as maiden-claimers, and perhaps there is hope that a just-developing genuine class article can save the day and uphold the old business about nonclaiming races (uh, yeah, a Grade I race is a nonclaiming event) being won by nonclaiming horses.

But back to You. She never took a deep breath, letting a rank Cashier's Dream try to make all the pace. When You sensed her rival had no more, she went by at will and was hardly pushed in the final stages. It was a female version of Officer's Champagne, and You was not fully extended.

Nothing meaningful came out of the West Coast (Habibti and Tempera have been sidelined or just waiting), and Alcibiades winner Take Charge Lady will be conceding all-important experience to You.

Mile: Hap finally won at the distance, taking the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, and might now have found a spot at which he can capture a Breeders' Cup Championship race. In the Shadwell, Hap was ridden confidently by Bailey, and pretty much beat up a field that lacked his proven class on the grass. At Santa Anita, Val Royal upset the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile field, accelerating impressively in the lane while race favorite Redattore was a nonfactor, and discouragingly so.

Nothing from overseas looks overly frightening, and Drysdale got enough out of Irish Prize's Sept. 9 Atto Mile not to send him into a later prep. Ditto Affirmed Success.

Sprint: Bet on Sunshine did what he always does, waiting for the speed to spend itself out before galloping on strongly in the shadow of the wire en route to victory. He'll obviously get another great pace setup on BC Day, but he'll have tons more traffic to have to navigate.

Kona Gold hadn't lost in nearly 18 months, then encountered a Swept Overboard who finally put it all together under a patented Eddie Delahoussaye rally, scorching to a 1:07 3/5 win in Santa Anita's Ancient Title.

The winners of the earlier preps (Delaware Township, Xtra Heat, Left Bank, El Corredor) will be fresh factors on Oct. 27, and, as always, the Sprint figures to be an intriguing blend of speed, trip, late acceleration (especially for the minor placings) and, above all, luck.

Filly & Mare Turf: Lailani and England's Legend, the one-two finishers in the Flower Bowl at Belmont, played a cat-and-mouse game throughout that race, the latter portraying the mouse while Lailani in the cat role pounced at the right time in deep stretch. Neither horse looked completely extended, and England's Legend, who was thrust in the role of pacesetter, may bounce back on Championship Day, benefiting from a possible Eurobounce by Lailani, not to mention a larger, more favorable field size and dynamic.

Juvenile: OK, who's gonna beat Officer? If you've watched any of his races, it's almost incomprehensible how ridiculously easy his victories have come. No horse has been able to test him once he's decided to make the lead, and it might not be until next year, when the rest of his generation could catch up to him, that he'll get a challenge worthy of him.

Siphonic drew away from the Breeders' Futurity field at Keeneland, after dueling through an OK pace. Is he anywhere near Officer? Probably not, and the other one to look out for for second or third is Essence of Dubai.

Turf: Sakhee is on his way to America after romping, as expected, in the Arc, a race that decidedly turned in his favor when the Longchamps course came up with some give to it after rain the night before. It was an easy effort, and now the question is whether he'll be able to do better than most Arc shippers. The Americans are not a noteworthy bunch, though With Anticipation has been unstoppable against what he's had to face here.

Classic: Do you buy the new and improved Aptitude? Since adding the blinkers a few starts back, he's been the male version of Exogenous. (Or is that Exogenous is the female version of Aptitude?)

Either way, he's shed his love-to-run-hate-to-win tendencies, and he's become involved in his races much earlier than he used to be. And at Belmont, that's a good thing, as evidenced by Aptitude's romp in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

But what has he beaten? It's safe to say he hasn't beaten anything in league with Galileo or Fantastic Light or both, and those Euros are a huge threat if they handle the dirt. Regardless of surface, Galileo and Fantastic Light are the genuine class articles, and have to be considered among the top five horses in training -- anywhere.

It's too early to point out the winners, much less the exactas, but the Distaff, the Juvenile and the Juvenile Fillies seem to have the clearest outlooks and the smallest number of contenders each. And that's how it's usually been throughout the past 17 runnings. The Filly & Mare Turf and the Turf fall somewhere in between, with, as always, the Sprint, the Mile and the Classic looking as indecipherable as ever. Between now and Oct. 27, this statebred interlude.

Well, almost. At Pimlico, it's Maryland Million Day and at Charles Town they're holding an extravaganza for West Virginia-breds. And at Calder, it's the Festival of the Sun not necessarily for Florida-breds. The point is, now is the time to expect a lot of celebrations of local racing at tracks all over the country. Still to come: Showcase Day for New York-breds at Belmont and the always entertaining California Cup at Oak Tree at Santa Anita.

Let's see what's happening at Calder:

Calder, Festival of the Sun: There are a bunch of stakes races on the card, but the four most important of those take place from races 9-12, also bridging a $1 all-stakes pick 4.

In the ninth, the Florida Stallion My Dear My Dear Girl Stakes for two-year-old fillies at a mile and a sixteenth, they race for a nice $400,000 purse. Pharmstar gets jockey Jerry Bailey, plus good genes and connections to handle the route distance no problems. Problem is, she's also the morning-line favorite. Bold Word is a possible middle-priced overlay as the third choice on the morning line, with Midnight Charmer possessing the potential to run 'em all down late at a price.

The 10th is the Smile Sprint Handicap at six furlongs, and offers good practice for getting ready for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Sure. There is a horse who stands out as the proverbial speed of the speed, and it's Kipperscope. If he can assert his early superiority the way he's fond of, the rest could be in bad shape at the wire, and that includes morning-line favorite Bet Me Best. It looks like Fappie's Notebook will complete the exacta, and the Kipperscope-Fappie's Notebook exacta box seems solid.

To the turf for race 11, the nine-furlong Calder Oakes for three-year-old fillies. First-time turfer Halo Reality will try to take 'em all the way, but another horse with precious little turf experience, Happily Unbridled, could get a perfect stalking trip, while Sheppard's Watch should benefit from a better pace and a drop in class, closing much better in this, her second stateside start.

Race 12 is the Florida Stallion Stakes In Reality Stakes, for two-year-old males this time, and Booklet should be involved throughout, but at low odds. Second-time starter Cosmic Sea has to improve a bunch to take this, but early improvement is in his pedigree.

Big fields all day at Calder, but you could put in a $24 pick-4 ticket and probably have a good time, not to mention a reasonable chance of hitting the big jackpot.

October BC Contest -- Build Your Bankroll Now
This is the contest you play all month, accumulating mythical dollars that you will play on racing's biggest day, the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Day at Belmont Park on Oct. 27.

For now, you concentrate on picking three horses each weekend day, hoping they hit the board. Whatever they pay to win, place or show, that amount is added to your fantasy bankroll, for use on imaginary bets on Breeders' Cup Day. For complete details, go to Rollin' to the BC. It's already a blast!

C&X Late-Breaking News Section Up and Running; Cramer's Arc Analysis Up Saturday Night -- for Subscribers ONLY!
(Sections reprinted from earlier editions.)

It is here -- the C&X Report Late-Breaking News subsite of the Cynthia Publishing Company Web site.

Subscribers, we'll tell you the address and the procedure for establishing an identity and password. You'll find the instructions in your forthcoming September issue, along with excellent, exclusive features on the successful claiming-horse owner Richard Englander, longshot handicapper Kevin Gorg and, as promised, the research cheat sheet from including all the major C&X research from the past two years.

There's never been a better time get involved with racing's best hardcopy newsletter -- bar none.

Good reason to subscribe or resubscribe now: Cramer's analysis and personal betting line for Sunday's Arc de Triomphe will be posted on the Late-Breaking News subsite -- but only if you subscribe by 6 p.m. Saturday night. Don't miss out! And coming Oct. 27: Cramer's Complete BC analysis.

Cramer's Arc analysis was both spot-on and literate. If you enjoy your racing commentary with a lot of character and style, C&X Report is for you. Subscribe now and guarantee you have access to Cramer's members-only complete analysis of the entire Breeders' Cup card. More below...

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