Perhaps there was a shake of the head or two from observers when Archwarrior was listed as the slight morning-line favorite for the Champagne over undefeated Hopeful winner Shanghai Bobby.
Don Lucarelli wasn’t one of them.
The Duanesburg resident and Jack Wolf are co-managers of Shanghai Bobby’s owner partnership, Starlight Racing, and naturally favor their horse, but Lucarelli said the morning line reflects how much attention Archwarrior has received, even before he won his career debut by 31⁄4 lengths at Saratoga Race Course.
“The horse drew outside, and he’s the buzz horse right now,” Lucarelli said on Friday. “I haven’t seen this much buzz since Unbridled’s Song.
“But from our standpoint, we hope our race experience helps us. Whether we have the same talent, we’ll find that out, but hopefully, race experience will be one of the factors.”
If it is, Shanghai Bobby should be in good position to win as he stretches out to a mile for the first time in the Champagne, one of three graded stakes at Belmont Park today.
Keeneland, which opened on Friday, also has a star-studded lineup of five graded stakes as the Breeders’ Cup preps begin to wind down.
In New York, Shanghai Bobby will attempt to make it 4-for-4 in the Grade I Champagne against six other 2-year-old colts.
He’s the 3-1 co-second choice with Goldencents, an impressive debut winner at Del Mar five weeks ago, and Archwarrior is 5-2.
Besides Shanghai Bobby and Archwarrior, trainer Todd Pletcher also has Micromanage, another impressive debut winner at Saratoga, and the Champagne field also includes the second- and third-place finishers from the Hopeful, Godolphin Racing’s Fortify and Bern Identity.
“It came up a tough race, but you’ve got to run against the best if you want to be the best,” Lucarelli said. “He doesn’t need this ‘Win and You’re In,’ but it’d be a nice race to win. It would’ve been better if he drew outside, but the real speed, I think, is inside.”
Goldencents drew the rail, with Shanghai Bobby to his outside and Archwarrior in the No. 4 post.
A son of Harlan’s Holiday, Shanghai Bobby won his debut at Aqueduct and took the listed Track Barron at Belmont.
He was three-wide coming off the turn in the Hopeful and took control at the three-sixteenths pole after having tracked Majestic Hussar and Overanalyze down the backstretch under Rosie Napravnik.
Lucarelli said that was a good learning experience that some of the other top contenders in the Champagne lack.
“Oh, yeah, the fact that he was able to rate,” he said. “He broke well, and she pulled him in and he relaxed, which is a dimension you’re looking for, not just being a run-and-gun horse.”
After the race, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Juvenile, the connections expressed uncertainty about running in the Breeders’ Cup because the anti-bleeding medication Lasix won’t be allowed in the juvenile races.
Lucarelli said they’ve softened that stance since then and will run in the Breeders’ Cup as long as Shanghai Bobby comes out of the Champagne sound. The Champagne is also a “Win and You’re In” race.
“Todd said he’s not a chronic bleeder, but until you run them without it, what can you do?” Lucarelli said. “It’s not totally my decision, we’ve got to do what’s right for the partners, and this is what we bring to the table to the partners, that we’re going to be in these type races.”
Today’s card also includes the Grade I Frizette for juvenile fillies and the Grade I Jamaica for turf milers, where Donegal Racing’s three-time Grade I winner Dullahan is the 4-5 favorite after winning the Pacific Classic against older horses on the synthetic at Del Mar.
It will be an interesting weekend for Ray Bryan of Saratoga Springs, who owns minor shares in Donegal’s current 3-year-old and 2-year-old classes.
Besides Dullahan, Donegal has O’Prado Again making his first start of the year in the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park today and the 2-year-olds Craving Carats and Roman’s Avenue entered in the Grade III Bourbon on the turf at Keeneland on Sunday. Craving Carats, however, is cross-entered in today’s Breeders’ Futurity on the main track at Keeneland and is supposed to run in that race, which his stablemate Dullahan won last year.
Dullahan, who has bounced around to a variety of surfaces and was third behind I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby, will get back on the grass for the first time since a second by a length to Howe Great in the Palm Beach at Gulfstream in March.
The Jamaica result could have some bearing on whether he runs in the turf in the Mile at the Breeders’ Cup or on the conventional dirt of the main track in the 11⁄4-mile Classic.
“We’re going to leave the door open and actually see what happens when we get out to California,” trainer Dale Romans said during a Tuesday teleconference. “We’re going to train over the racetrack a little bit, and if he bounces over it like he does the synthetic, if it’s a little tighter, a little firmer like he likes it, then we’d have to think very seriously about the Classic.”
Stonestreet Stables’ Dreaming of Julia is the 2-5 favorite in the Frizette after winning two starts by almost a combined 27 lengths.
She broke her maiden at Saratoga and followed it up by winning the one-mile Meadow Star at Belmont by 161⁄4 lengths.
The Keeneland fall meet really heats up today and Sunday with seven more graded stakes.
Today’s lineup includes the Woodford turf sprint, Thoroughbred Club of America for fillies and mares at six furlongs, the Grade I First Lady for fillies and mares at a mile on the turf, the Grade I Breeders Futurity and the highlight of the day, the Grade I Shadwell Mile, which has drawn the likes of Wise Dan, Silver Max, Data Link, Corporate Jungle and Dominus.
On Sunday, Keeneland has the Grade I Spinster for fillies and mares at a mile and an eighth and the Grade III Bourbon for 2-year-olds on the turf.
The First Lady field includes Tapitsfly, Hungry Island, Daisy Devine and Summer Soiree, who is cross-entered in the Spinster on Sunday.
Groupie Doll is 4-5 in the TCA off wins in the Grade I Vinery Madison, Grade I Humana Distaff and Grade II Presque Isle Downs Masters. She’ll face Emma’s Encore, who won the Prioress at Saratoga for Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens before finishing sixth in the Gallant Bloom.
On Friday, Sum of the Parts won the Grade III Phoenix at six furlongs on the main track, as Aikenite, making his first start in 11 months after finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, was fourth.
The Grade I Alcibiades drew 14 juvenile fillies, and the Woodbine-based Spring in the Air improved to 2-2-0 from four starts with a one-length win over Broken Spell for trainer Mark Casse and owner John Oxley.
There was a snafu in the seventh race when a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission veterinarian mistakenly administered Lasix to Exothermic against the wishes of owner Green Lantern Stables.
Trainer Rusty Arnold told the Louisville Courier-Journal he believes it was an “honest mistake.”
Arnold and the owner decided to run, anyway, and Exothermic, the second choice on the morning line and in the wagering, was second to 14-1 Miami Deco.
BC for ANIMAL KINGDOM
The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is on schedule to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf despite not having raced since easily winning a turf race on Feb. 18 at Gulfstream Park.
That has been his only start since finishing sixth in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.
Owned by Team Valor, Animal Kingdom developed a stress fracture of the ilium three weeks after the Gulfstream win and missed a shot at running in the Dubai World Cup.
He is the 7-1 third choice in Las Vegas future book wagering for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but trainer Graham Motion and Team Valor managing partner Barry Irwin prefer the shorter distance for his first start in 81⁄2 months.
“Coming off the layoff, the Mile just seems very logical for him,” Motion said. “He certainly has the turn of foot to handle it. The timing is right for his schedule coming back, and the caliber of horse that he is, you’re not going to look for a nice, easy spot.”
No Derby winner has won a Breeders’ Cup race since Unbridled won the Classic at Belmont in 1990.
Grade I Wood Memorial winner Gemologist has been retired from racing and will stand at stud at WinStar Farm in Kentucky.
He was on the road to recovery from injury, but suffered a minor setback in his training last month, and WinStar decided that there wasn’t enough time before the end of the year to get ready for any major races, so he was retired.
Gemologist was undefeated in three starts at 2, then put himself squarely in the Kentucky Derby picture by winning the Wood by a neck over Alpha to remain undefeated from five starts.
He suffered and bruised foot in finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby, and was sixth in the Haskell to close his career.
Starlight Racing’s undefeated Algorithms had his first published workout since an injury knocked him off the Kentucky Derby trail this spring.
He went three furlongs in 37.26 on the Belmont training track on Monday as he continues to progress toward one possible start
before the end of the year.
Lucarelli said Starlight’s objective is still to shoot for the Grade I Cigar Mile three weeks after the Breeders’ Cup, which, on paper, would appear to be a lofty aspiration for a 3-year-old with just three career starts.
“A Grade I off the shelf is usually not what happens, but since it’s the last Grade I of the year, the majority of those horses will have been in the Breeders’ Cup,” Lucarelli said. “If he’s not ready, we’ll take him to Palm Meadows and get him ready for Gulfstream.”
L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE
Japan’s Triple Crown winner Orfevre will have to overcome a difficult post position and 17 rivals to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.
Orfevre and Camelot are the favorites for Europe’s most prestigious flat track race, but the
4-year-old colt from Japan drew the far outside No. 18 post.
Camelot is looking to rebound from a thwarted bid for the English Triple Crown, which he missed in the third leg by losing to Encke in the St. Leger three weeks ago.
The last horse to win the Arc from a double-digit post was Dalakhani in 2003, which is good news for Camelot, who starts from the No. 5 post with three-time Arc winner Frankie Dettori aboard.
Orfevre comes into the race off a win in last month’s Prix Foy over the same Longchamp turf.
The run-up to the race took several surprising turns during the week.
Last year’s winner and course record-holder Danedream was withdrawn when her owner’s stable in Germany was placed into quarantine due to an outbreak of an equine infection. On Wednesday, Camelot was entered, while other British contenders Nathaniel and Snow Fairy were withdrawn.
Dettori will be riding in his 25th straight Arc, and gained the ride aboard Camelot after regular rider Joseph O’Brien — son of the horse’s trainer Aidan O’Brien — was unable to make the required weight.
Dettori won the Arc with Lammtarra in 1995, Sakhee in 2001 and Marienbard in 2002.
Other contenders include St Nicholas Abbey, who ran fifth in last year’s Arc before winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and 4-year-old filly Shareta, last year’s Arc runner-up and winner of her last two starts, most recently the Prix Vermeille
NYRA Rewards account holders will be able to bet on Longchamp today and Sunday morning by phone and the Internet.
Post time for the Arc is 10:25 a.m. EDT on Sunday.
BAZE BACK, at 55-1
Jockey Tyler Baze, who had not ridden since August of last year because of substance abuse problems, returned to racing on Friday at Santa Anita and won aboard 55-1 Warren’s Sugarbuzz.
Baze began working horses a month ago after being reinstated by the Los Alamitos stewards.
The 2000 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice was suspended for circumstances stemming from a missed Breathalyzer test at Del Mar in September 2011.
AROUND THE TRACKS
Amazombie, the 2011 male sprint champion, is 9-5 against six rivals in the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship today.
The Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner hasn’t been off the board in 17 straight starts dating back to August 2010. . . .
The 3-year-olds have the spotlight at Hoosier Park today, where Grace Hall is the 4-5 favorite in the Indiana Oaks off a fifth in the Alabama and Bob Baffert’s Fed Biz is the 5-2
favorite in the Indiana Derby riding a three-race win streak. . . .
Alternation is the 5-2 favorite in the Hawthorne Gold Cup. . . .
Uncaptured, Canada’s top 2-year-old, is the even-money favorite in the Grey Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday. He’s 4-for-4 with three stakes wins, all at Woodbine, for Casse and Oxley. . . .
Flattermewithroses, longest shot in the field at 53-1, beat Coconut Shrimp, the 4-5 favorite, in the Voodoo Dancer Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on the yielding turf course at Belmont Park on Friday.
Ridden by Mike Luzzi, Flattermewithroses put trainer Jena Antonucci in the win column for the first time this year, ending an 0-for-38 run.
BREEDERS’ CUP TICKETS
General admission tickets for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita are now available for purchase online at www.breederscup.com/tickets.
The online price is $10 for Friday’s races and $15 for Saturday’s.
Each price will be $5 more when purchased at the gate.
Fans may purchase general admission tickets online until 3 a.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 2.