Breeders’ Cup: Local owners stuck with outside posts

In one sense, Rick Benas and Warren Moessner aren’t on the outside looking in. They’re just on the o

In one sense, Rick Benas and Warren Moessner aren’t on the outside looking in.

They’re just on the outside. Way outside.

Both thoroughbred owners will be at Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup, with horses entered on Saturday’s card, so they’ll have a front-row seat for the Zenyatta spectacle, as well as their own horses’ races.

Unfortunately for each, though, they drew the extreme outside post in a crowded starting gate.

Benas, of Latham, the managing partner of the Albany-based Obviously NY Stable, owns the 5-year-old Canadian Ballet, who will return to the BC Sprint Turf and was assigned post 14 against a field that includes Silver Timber, trained by Mechanicville native Chad Brown.

The 58-year-old Moessner, of Coeymans Hollow, will attend his second Breeders’ Cup and first as an owner, by virtue of Pluck’s entry in the Juvenile Turf. Moessner owns a share in the 2-year-old son of More Than Ready through Team Valor International, and Pluck will break from the 13 post.

Tough draws aside, Benas and Moessner are going to the Breeders’ Cup with high anticipation, espec­ially with the bonus of witnessing Zenyatta’s attempt to remain undefeated in the Classic.

“It’s going to be everything that they’re forecasting,” Benas said. “This Zenyatta is the real deal. There’s only a few horses you can say in the same sentence with her. For me, Personal Ensign comes to mind, because she was undefeated. If she takes this race, you would have to write her as the No. 1 filly of all time.

“The fans are going to go nuts, screaming and yelling. That’s what it’s all about.”

“Yeah, that’s part of it, but you’ve got Goldikova, too, going for three straight,” Moessner said.

Benas knows all about fans screaming and yelling, because he was one of them last year, when Canadian Ballet came off the final turn in second place in the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, only to finish fifth, four lengths behind Cal­ifornia Flag, who is back in the race not having won since last year’s BC Turf Sprint.

Benas and his wife, Jeanne, a long-time illustrator for the Gazette Opinion page, were actually escorted by their chaperone across the Santa Anita dirt track to watch the race on the rail of the turf course.

“I was screaming my fool head off,” Benas said. “He took us across the dirt track and right up against the turf course where the photo­graphers were. It was just us and about half a dozen photo­graphers.

“It was just a little too far for her. But she actually came back and nosed out Silver Timber for fifth, which was good, because fifth-place money was just enough to get us back the money we spent on the trip.”

Canadian Ballet, trained by Linda Rice, wll be ridden by Kent Desormeaux for the second race in a row, after she finished second to Mimi’s Bling in the Buffalo Trace Franklin County at Keeneland three weeks ago.


Besides Silver Timber, who is a slight favorite on the morning line at 4-1, Canadian Ballet will face Rose Catherine for the third time this year.

Rose Catherine won the Lena Spencer at Saratoga Race Course and the Turf Amazon at Parx Racing; Canadian Ballet was fifth and third, respectively, in those races.

“That’s [outside post] a shame. On the other hand, she’ll show how good she is and show her heart, and she’s got plenty of that,” Benas said. “It’s still a horse race. She’s as quick from the gate as any horse I’ve ever seen.

“She has had some unfortunate trips. The Turf Amazon, she was three-wide the whole way. That’s not a formula for success, and unfortunately, there’s a bunch of horses with every bit of speed inside of her. That’s the sad truth. But she showed a bit of herself last time, and she’s sound.”

After the Breeders’ Cup, Can­adian Ballet will be consigned by Taylor Made to the Fasig-Tipton November sale as a broodmare prospect on Sunday at Keeneland. If she doesn’t meet her reserve, Benas said Obviously NY may race her as a 6-year-old.


Pluck represents the first horse Moessner, a state worker for the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, has ever owned.

He attended the second Breeders’ Cup, at Aqueduct in 1985, and can’t believe his good fortune to be going back as an owner.

“I remember Cozzene won the Turf [in 1985], I remember it was cold as the dickens, and not a lot else,” he said.

“Who would’ve thunk it? There’s so many horses bred every year, and so few even make it to the races, and so few even win a race, and even fewer make it to a stakes race, and even fewer win a stakes race. Now, we’ve got a 2-year-old who’s done all those things. This doesn’t happen; it’s movie stuff. There are a lot of people who have done this a lot longer than I have and know a lot more than I do who have never been to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Pluck, who is 2-1-0 from four starts, is being given a pretty good chance to win the Juvenile Turf by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. He’s the 6-1 co-third choice, despite the outside post.

He’s coming off a win in the Grade III Summer at Woodbine.

The field also includes the top three finishers from the Grade III pilgrim at Belmont Park, Air Support, Soldat and Deciphering Dreams. Soldat won the Grade III With Anticipation at Saratoga, and Deciphering Dreams broke his maiden there on Aug. 19.

“Pluck doesn’t seem to get out of the gate real quick, so if he breaks a step slow, that’s not necessarily going to hurt him,” Moessner said. “Woodbine did have some give to it, and he did alright. He may act­ually be better if he’s not on a course where his teeth are rattling.

“He’s going to give a good account of himself. No. 1, he’s gotten smarter and better each race. He’s still a little green, he’s still a big kid. But I credit John Velazquez, who basically schooled him in his first two starts. Garrett Gomez did pretty much the same thing at Woodbine. As he said in the interview, he was able to give him some confidence.”

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