Terri Pompay wanted a 1:01, and she got a 1:01.
Right down to the hundredth of a second.
Currency Swap, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.00 under Paco Lopez at Monmouth Park on Friday morning, likes his job right now.
Since winning the Hopeful on closing day of the Saratoga Race Course meet, that entails hitting the track in the morning, doing what he’s told. And waiting.
The Monmouth-based Pompay, a 1979 Saratoga Central Catholic graduate, is bucking history by training the first Grade I winner of her career up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile from the Hopeful.
In 27 runnings of the BC Juvenile, only two colts, Stevie Wonderboy (2005) and Vindication (2002) have won it after layoffs of more than five weeks.
Currency Swap, out of the first crop by High Cotton, will attempt to do it off 60 days away from the races.
Also, there have been just four BC Juvenile winners, Uncle Mo (2010), Action This Day (2003), Unbridled’s Song (1995) and Brocco (1993), who have won it with just two previous starts.
Currency Swap broke his maiden by six lengths on Aug. 6, won the Hopeful four weeks later, and that will be the extent of his resume when he runs at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. That’s fine with Pompay, especially since Currency Swap has been acting professionally in the morning.
“I think he’ll be fine. It’s not a big issue,” she said of the long layoff.
This is a big weekend for BC Juvenile contenders, as today’s Belmont Park card includes the Grade I Champagne, which has drawn nine 2-year-olds, and Keeneland has the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity.
Saratoga Special winner Union Rags is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the Champagne, which has produced seven BC Juvenile winners. Uncle Mo completed that double last year.
Pompay said she and owners Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence may have considered running in the Champagne, but not after having run in the Hopeful on Labor Day, Sept. 5.
“Don’t get me wrong, winning the Champagne would be an awesome feat, but if we were going to skip one or the other and win the Breeders’ Cup, that would be the one to skip,” she said. “He’s only 2, and he’s a big boy who tries every time. This gives us the best chance.”
Pompay didn’t waste any time expressing how she wanted to map the course to the Breeders’ Cup.
She was still in the Saratoga winners’ circle after the Hopeful when she said, “I would rather not [race again]. I’d rather freshen him, take care of him and go there undefeated.”
And that’s what they’ll do.
The plan now is to use some longer, slower gallops to get some distance base into Currency Swap, then get him cranked up for the mile-and-a-sixteenth BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs — which is a two-turn race — with sharp breezes the two weekends before the Breeders’ Cup.
Currency Swap did not have a published workout last weekend, as Pompay opted for a two-mile gallop, and he’ll do the same next weekend.
Then jockey Rajiv Maragh will breeze the colt.
The Hopeful was a grueling race on a sticky track, but the little bit of freshening appears to have been the perfect move for Currency Swap.
“I didn’t want to come back in the Champagne because he ran two hard races pretty close together, and we had to ship him from Monmouth,” Pompay said. “He did
everything we asked him to do. The track at Saratoga was horrible, it was really wet and then drying out. If he went to the Champagne, he probably would’ve had another tough race. Then you don’t even have the four weeks, and you’re putting the pedal to the metal again. We want to have a nice horse next year, too.”
Currency Swap’s breeze at Monmouth on Friday was the second-fastest of nine works at the distance.
His next breeze, in two weeks, will be longer, Pompay said.
“It was great, it was just what we wanted,” she said. “He went with another horse who stayed with him until the end. He went nice and straight, smooth. He was very happy, he came back and was eating cookies.
“He went two miles last week basically to get some air into his lungs and get some distance. We’ve got the time so that we can space his fast works out.”
Currency Swap will stay at Monmouth and won’t breeze at Churchill.
If he wins the BC Juvenile, it will be a pretty rare feat.
The only Hopeful winners to also win the BC Juvenile were Chief’s Crown in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup, 1984, and Favorite Trick in 1997.
The 27 Breeders’ Cup winners have accomplished that off an average of 24.7 days off. Vindication was away from the races for 41 days, and Stevie Wonderboy was off for 51.
Only 14 Hopeful winners, including 2000 dead-heaters City Zip and Yonaguska, have even made it to the BC Juvenile.
The only Hopeful winners to go straight to the Breeders’ Cup without another prep were Came Home, who was seventh in 2001, and Boys At Tosconova, who was second to Uncle Mo last year.
Boys At Tosconova, out with ankle problems, hasn’t raced since then and makes his much-anticipated return to the races in the first at Belmont today.
Besides the Champagne, the Belmont card also includes the Grade I Frizette for 2-year-old fillies and the Grade I Jamaica for 3-year-olds at a mile-and-an-eighth on the inner turf.
The Champagne and Frizette will be shown live on MSG Plus during a 4:30-5:30 p.m. broadcast, and the Jamaica will be shown on tape.
Two impressive winners at Saratoga are the top two choices in the Champagne, Union Rags and Alpha.
Union Rags won the Saratoga Special by 71⁄4 lengths for trainer Michael Matz, and Alpha won his career debut by six lengths over Invocation, who jumps into the Champagne field without having broken his maiden and is 20-1.
“He’s [Union Rags] growing up, and each race, he will continue to mature more and hopefully progress,” Matz told the New York Racing Association. “We are quite happy with the way he is.”
“Union Rags is the horse to beat, but we like our horse,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said of Alpha, a son of Bernardini. “The timing is good, with him having had his first race a month ago. As racing goes, you’d like to start them a little earlier, but we’re here now.”
The Frizette presents a rematch between My Miss Aurelia (7-5) and Stopshoppingmaria (6-5).
My Miss Aurelia broke her maiden first time out at Saratoga, as Stopshoppingmaria was third, then won the Grade II Adirondack.
Stopshoppingmaria came back in a maiden race on the Adirondack undercard and won by 93⁄4 lengths. Trainer Todd Pletcher said skipping the Adirondack “might have been a mistake.”
Mechanicville native Chad Brown will saddle the 2-1 second choice in the Jamaica, Casino Host, who hasn’t won a stakes, but is coming off a third behind Air Support and Banned in the Grade II Virginia Derby and a fifth to Treasure Beach in the Grade I Secretariat on a yielding course at Arlington Park.
“I’m going to keep an eye on the ground, he definitely needs firmer ground,” Brown said. “If he gets that kind of ground, I’ll be very, very pleased. The horse couldn’t be doing any better, and I think the distance is perfect. He can run further, but I think a mile and an eighth is right in his wheelhouse.”
The Belmont inner turf was firm on Friday, with clear skies in the forecast this weekend.
Brilliant Speed is the 9-5 favorite, after winning the Saranac at Saratoga in his return to the grass.
After winning the Blue Grass on the Keeneland synthetic, he joined the Triple Crown trail, but got back to the turf after a fifth by 101⁄2 lengths in the Jim Dandy.
Stephanie’s Kitten came from well off the pace to win the Grade I Darley Alcibiades for 2-year-old fillies as the Keeneland fall meet opened on Friday.
Also on the card, Hoofit won the Grade II Phoenix by a nose over the hard-charging Aikenite at six furlongs on the main track.
Front-runner Flashpoint, coming off a fifth in the King’s Bishop, faded to fourth as the 6-5 betting favorite.
Besides the Breeders’ Futurity, today’s loaded card includes three Grade I’s and the Grade III Woodford turf sprint.
Daveron, owned in part by Chip Bradley of Delmar through Team Valor, is the 9-2 third choice in the Grade I First Lady at a mile on the turf.
Daveron has won three straight, most recently the Grade II Ballston Spa at Saratoga, after which Bradley enjoyed the privilege of leading her back to the winner’s circle.
The Irish-bred Together, whose only U.S. start was a fifth in last year’ Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, is the 7-2 favorite.
Three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti is, at 5-2, the slight favorite in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile.
He is winless in five straight starts since taking last year’s Shadwell Turf Mile, a streak that began with a second to Goldikova in the BC Mile.
In his last two starts, Gio Ponti was second to the now-retired Cape Blanco, in the Man o’ War at Belmont and the Arlington Million.
Among those he’ll face today is Sidney’s Candy, who returns to the turf after an eighth in the Forego.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said that the Breeders’ Cup is “totally out” for Blind Luck, after she finished seventh in the Lady’s Secret last weekend,
183⁄4 lengths behind Zazu.
It was the first time Blind Luck finished out of the money in 22 career starts, and just the third time she wasn’t first or second.
Cape Blanco, who won Saturday’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and was a leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, has been retired after veterinarians discovered a slab fracture in his knee after the race.
The connections for Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream are looking at three options for her next race. She’s been supplemented for the Breeders’ Cup and could go in either the Filly & Mare Turf or against males in the Turf at a mile and a half.
They are also considering skipping the Breeders’ Cup and and going to the Japan Cup.
Brown told the Daily Racing Form on Friday that he would consider sending 2010 2-year-old filly champion Awesome Feather to the BC Ladies’ Classic.
The undefeated Awesome Feather won her 2011 debut on Wednesday, the Le Slew at Belmont.
After Haskell winner Coil finished third to stablemate Game On Dude and Awesome Gem in the Goodwood last week, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said he wouldn’t run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
On Wednesday, he said the Dirt Mile may still be an option.
LIFE AT TEN RETIRED
Life At Ten’s fifth to Havre de Grace in the Beldame last Saturday was the last race of her career, as she was retired on Sunday.
Her victory in last year’s Beldame ended up being the last win of her career, as she lost all five of her 2011 starts in the wake of her controversial performance in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.
She was the betting favorite in the BC Ladies’ Classic, but had a poor warmup and was dull from the start, so jockey John Velazquez throttled her down and she lost contact with the field.
The incident led to a two-month investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that resulted in a $10,000 fine for Velazquez.
Chief steward John Veitch has been contesting any punishment and is waiting for a recommendation to the commission by a hearing officer.
Life At Ten, owned by Candy DeBartolo and trained by Pletcher, retired with a record of 8-6-4 from 22 lifetime starts for earnings of $1,277,515.
FLEET INDIAN EUTHANIZED
Eclipse Award winner Fleet Indian was euthanized last Saturday because of complications from colic.
In 2004, she had a six-race winning streak for owner Paul Saylor that included the Personal Ensign at Saratoga, before pulling up with a suspensory injury as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the New York-bred Fleet Indian retired after that race with a record of
13-0-1 from 19 starts for earnings of $1,704,513.
She produced four foals as a broodmare.
AROUND THE TRACKS
The Factor will make his first start since his win in the Aug. 28 Grade I Pat O’Brien as the 3-5 favorite for the Ancient Title at Santa Anita today.
The 3-year-old will face older horses for the second time in the six-furlong Ancient Title. . . .
Grade I winner Donn Handicap winner Giant Oak, third in the Whitney and fifth in the Woodward, is the 2-1 favorite in the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne Racecourse.
Rule, third in the Donn, is 5-2 off his third in the Woodward.
HERE AND THERE
Also euthanized on Saturday was multiple graded stakes winner Banned, who was 5-1-2 from 10 starts, a week after he underwent surgery to repair fractured sesamoids in his right front ankle.
The Grade II Del Mar Derby winner was injured during a workout on the Santa Anita Park turf course.
Besides the Del Mar Derby, he won the Grade II American Turf Stakes and Grade III Jefferson Cup this year as a 3-year-old.
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