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Horse racing notes: Two BC champions join Cigar Mile field

Saturday, November 16, 2013
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The Breeders’ Cup is long over, but a purse incentive appears to have performed its duty and created a Breeders’ Cup-caliber field for the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 30.

Two Breeders’ Cup winners — champion female sprinter Groupie Doll and Goldencents — will be running for an enhanced $1 million purse, and Grade I winners Alpha, Verrazano and Capo Bastone are looking at the winner’s share of a gross purse of $750,000 if any of the three wins.

Others being considered for the Cigar Mile are Breeders’ Cup Sprint third-place finisher Gentleman’s Bet and Forty Tales, who won the Grade II Woody Stephens at Belmont Park and Grade II Amsterdam at Saratoga Race Course.

That alone would be a blockbuster field, led by Groupie Doll, who was purchased by Mandy Pope for $3.1 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, and Goldencents.

Not long after the sale, trainer Buff Bradley suggested to Groupie Doll’s new owner that the 5-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band came out of the Breeders’ Cup sound and fit enough to race again in 2013.

Pope gave the OK and agreed to keep Groupie Doll’s team together, which was even better news for Bradley, who bred her at his family’s farm in Kentucky and owned her in partnership with his father and two minority shareholders.

“We had thought she would be retired immediately,” Bradley told the New York Racing Association. “If we had kept her, we knew we’d probably be looking at the Cigar Mile.

“I was very excited when Mrs. Mandy Pope called me and asked me if I were interested in contin­uing on with her, at least for another race in the Cigar Mile. I told her, ‘Yes, as long as we can keep the same team together.’ ”

Groupie Doll, who has a second Eclipse Award wrapped up no matter what happens on Nov. 30, lost by a nose to Stay Thirsty in last year’s Cigar Mile.

Goldencents, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, still has an outside chance at pulling out the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old male.

WEEKEND STAKES

The Grade III Red Smith has drawn a deep field for the final graded turf stakes in New York this year, led by consistent 5-2 morning-line favorite Hyper, who hasn’t been off the board in eight starts this year.

He’s coming off a second in the Canadian International at Woodbine after wins in the Grade II Bowling Green at Belmont and the John’s Call at Saratoga for trainer Chad Brown.

The field also includes Tannery, winner of the Grade I E.P. Taylor on International day, and Imagining, winner of overnight stakes at Saratoga and Belmont who was sixth in the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

Tonight’s card at Churchill Downs features the Grade II Mrs. Revere for fillies and mares on the turf and the Grade III Commonwealth Turf for 3-year-olds.

The Mrs. Revere field includes Virginia Oaks winner Nellie Cashman, who finished first in the Lake Placid at Saratoga but disqualified to third, and the New York-bred Effie Trinket, making her second start in a graded stakes after three overnight stakes wins in four starts.

In the Commonwealth, Frac Daddy continues his turf campaign after finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby and 14th in the Belmont. He won a turf allowance at Saratoga, was seventh in the Saranac and came back with a win at Keeneland on the Polytrack.

MUSEUM HOURS

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon-4 on Sunday through Dec. 29. The museum will be closed for renovations from Dec. 30 through March 18.

The museum will reopen March 19 and be open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon-4 on Sunday through April 21.

AROUND THE TRACKS

Jockey Calvin Borel, a 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, will take the rest of the year off as he continues his recovery from injuries suffered in a spill at Keeneland on Oct. 24.

He plans to return to compet­ition at Oaklawn Park when the meet opens on Jan. 10.

Borel broke a fibula in the spill. . . .

The Belmont fall meeting enjoyed five-year highs in all-sources and on-track handle.

All-sources handle, which includes wagers on Belmont Park races both on-track and from simulcast outlets nationwide, was $326,878,686. The figure represents an increase of 9.8 percent from $297,670,005 last year and a jump of 24.3 percent from $263,037,788 in 2011.

On-track handle for the Belmont fall meeting was $47,238,016. The total was up 11.1 percent from $42,499,742 last year and 13.4 percent over the $41,656,097 wagered on-track in 2011. . . .

Global Betting Exchange (GBE) has been chosen as the tentative winning bidder — pending finalization — to provide technolog­ical upgrades to NYRA’s advance deposit wagering platform, NYRA Rewards.

NYRA had selected GBE earlier this year to provide similar services. However, the contract was re-bid at the request of the Franchise Oversight Board.

TURALLURE EUTHANIZED

Grade I winner Turallure broke down during a routine gallop at Keeneland on Thursday and had to be euthanized.

The 6-year-old had not won since the 2011 Grade I Woodbine Mile and Bernard Baruch at Sar­atoga, although he was still racing on a regular basis, finishing fourth in the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga this year. He missed by the slightest of noses to Court Vision in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

SANFORD FUNDRAISER

The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm will hold their Hurricana Holiday fundraiser from 6-10 p.m. on Dec. 14 at Saratoga Raceway.

Admission to the prime rib buffet is $35. RSVP to Linda at 224-0439 or 848-3000, or by email at lgates@nbtbank.com.

ALBARADO APPEAL

A new trial has been ordered for jockey Robby Albarado, who won an appeal of his conviction on a misdemeanor assault charge.

Albarado was convicted last year of fourth-degree assault and fined $500 in connection with a fight at his home involving his former girlfriend, Carolina Martinez. But Jefferson County Circuit Judge Brian C. Edwards ordered a new trial.

He said the prosecutor made an improper comment during jury selection regarding Albarado’s marital status when the jockey began a relationship with Martinez.

The judge said considering the “tumultuous emotional history” between Albarado and Martinez, the comment could create prejudice by jurors and seemed to have little or no relevance to the charge.

 
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