10/26/2007 3:07PM

BC Day 1: Live!


4:07 pm: Seventeen minutes to post for the first running of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, the only one of Friday's three new Breeders' Cup races likely to crown a champion -- the new and overdue Eclipse Award for champion filly or mare sprinter.

They've run seven races so far on the sloppy main track and yielding turf today at Monmouth, with formful results in the first five and then a pair of stakes upsets. The winners of the first two races, six-furlong sprints for 2-year-old maidens, were won on or near the lead but the winners were 3-10 and 8-5. Times were fast -- 1:09.12 and 1:09.62. The next three races, all routes, were won by a midpack 5-1, a deep-closing 2-1 and a front-running 7-5. The latter was Tessa Blue, a 7 1/4-length winner of the Indiana Oaks last time and a 12 1/2-length winner of the $250k Inside Information stakes for 3-year-old fillies here.

The sixth was more of a puzzler in the $250k Epitome Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at a mile on the grass. Sea Chanter, the pace-pressing runner-up in the Miss Grillo last time out, was farther back today on wet grass, then rallied to win at 7-1 in 1:39.21 for Pletcher/Velazquez. English invader Annie Skates came flying late for second under Gomez.

The seventh, the $250k Favorite Trick for 2-year-old sprinters, was a chaotic dash won by Emerald Downs shipper Margo's Gift -- the colt who was third to Juvenile Fillies entrant Smarty Deb last out when she beat males in Emerald's Gottstein Futurity. Margo's Gift ($55.40) came flying up the rail late under regular jockey Ricky Frazier, the king of Emerald, to beat Jazz Nation, the moral victor after a protracted pace duel with West coast Coach. Favored Lantana Mob loomed in midstretch amid traffic but hung for third. The time was 1:10.19 on a track that's probably slowing down as the day progresses.

Due to my fondness for Emerald Downs and route-to-sprint turnbacks, I used Margo's Gift as a backup in the late pick four into the three BC races so am alive 3x3x4 for $1 through my top picks: Miss Macy Sue, Baroness Thatcher and Maryfield in the F&M Sprint; Strike the Deal, Achill Island and Prussian in the Juvenile Turf and XChanger, Lewis Michael, Corinthian and Park Avenue Ball in the Dirt Mile.

I'll be back with updates to this post after each BC race.

4:59 p.m.: The predictable pace-meltdown scenario materialized in the inaugural BC Filly & Mare Sprint, burning out Dream Rush and La Traviata and paving the way for Maryfield to win the race and clinch the new Eclipse Award as the nation's champion filly or mare sprinter.

Maryfield rallied relentlessly on the far outside under Elvis Trujillo to get past 43-1 closer Miraculous Miss at the wire to win by half a length. Miss Macy Sue was 1 3/4 lengths back in third and Baroness Thatcher a nose behind in fourth as Dream Rush and La Traviata faded to fifth and sixth in the field of 10.

Dream Rush ran by far the better race of the two speedball favorites, rocketing to the front and winning the battle if not the war. La Traviata, whose overly enthused connections had considered running her against males in the Sprint, was surprisingly favored in the betting despite bringing just three career starts and a single Grade 3 victory into the race. She couldn't get past Dream Rush early and had nothing late.

Maryfield, the oldest horse in the race at 6, used to be a speedball herself. Then four starts back at Aqueduct, she was off poorly but rallied from last under Jorge Chavez to win the Distaff BC Handicap. She was then converted into an off-the-pace runner, and last time out rallied to win the G1 Ballerina at Saratoga. Today's 1-2-4 finishers ran 1-3-2 in the Ballerina.

The $2 exacta paid $374.80, the $2 tri paid $1756.80 and the $2 super paid $13,576. Managed to get 1/20th of the latter payoff with a 10-cent 1/4/10/all box and stay alive in the pick four, but it sure would be nice to have more than three of them in the upcoming Juvenile Turf.

Maryfield's final time was 1:09.85, only 0.34 seconds faster than Margo's Gift in the Favorite Trick and slower than the two juvenile maiden races at the start of the card.

Maryfield, a 6-year-old daughter of Elusive quality and the Desert Wine mare Sly Maid, is owned by Mark Gorman, Nick Mastrandrea and Jim Perry and trained by Doug O'Neill. They claimed her for $50k out of a Jan. 16, 2006 grass mile at Santa Anita.

5:26 p.m. Oh well. At least now I don't have to sit here and root against Discreet Cat with every fiber of my being. Dead last at the top of the stretch, Nownownow accelerated through the boggy turf to run down Achill Island, knock me out of the pick four, and win the $1 million BC Juvenile Turf.

Prussian led until the top of the stretch, when everyone near the front began to fade from the demanding course. Achill Island emerged to take a brief lead but Nownownow was moving better to his outside and got there comfortably to win by half a length. Cannonball, who won the King Cugat Stakes at Belmont just five days ago, held third by a nose over Strike the Deal.

Nownownow had won just one of five previous starts but did it in a stakes race at Saratoga, the With Anticipation. Last time out he was second to Gio Ponti behind slow fractions in the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland. Nownownow, a son of Whywhywhy, is a Fab Oak Stable homebred who until this week was officially trained by Patrick Biancone. He ran today in the name of the suspended Biancone's assistant, Francois Parisel. The outcome was a welcome recovery for Biancone/Parisel and jockey Julien Leparoux, who ran 7th with 3-1 Officer Frank in the Favorite Trick and sixth with favored La Traviata in the F&M Sprint in the previous two races.

The exacta paid $180 for $2, the $2 trifecta was $2,636 and the $2 superfecta was $16,660. I don't want to know what the pick-fours are paying.

6:15 p.m.: In a showdown of Jekyll-and-Hyde racehorses, it was the good Corinthian and the bad Discreet Cat who showed up today for the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Corinthian was a brilliant runaway winner while Discreet Cat was a distant third.

Corinthian looked like a winner almost every step of the way, settling in on the rail behind the speed and gliding comfortably under Kent Desormeaux as Gottcha Gold cleared Wanderin Boy on the lead. Corinthian moved through on the turn and stormed away from the field by daylight, winning by 6 1/2 lengths as Gottcha Gold held second, 8 1/4 lengths in front of Discreet Cat, who outstaggered Wanderin Boy for third.

This was the Corinthian we saw earlier in the season, when he thrashed Jazil by 9 lengths in his first start of the year and then won the Gulfstream BC Handicap and the Met Mile. The 4-year-old Pulpit-Multiply(Easy Goer) colt, owned by Centennial Farms and trained by Jimmy Jerkens, then was trounced in both the Suburban and the Woodward, but had trained well since then.

As for Discreet Cat, one of the world's most brilliant horses last year, this was his third dismal performance in as many starts in 2007. In the Dubai World Cup, where he was co-favored with Invasor, he trailed at every call. He then was a dull third in the Vosburgh. His handlers claimed he was now set to pick up where he left off last year, but he clearly wasn't, sloppy track or not.

With victories in the Met Mile and now the BC Dirt Mile, Corinthian would be an easy choice for champion miler if we had such a title or Eclipse Award in this country.

Perhaps no one was beating Corinthian today(his winning time of 1:39.06 was just two-fifths off the Momouth track record), but it was discouraging to see how few other horses in the race turned in representative performances over the very sloppy track.

The exacta with Gottcha Gold paid $60.20, the tri was $215.40 for $2 and the super was $992.80 for $2. The $2 pick four was (sigh) $48,470. No one picked six, so there's an $82k carryover that will be added to Saturday's pool, which is guaranteed at $3 million. (The bet handled $4.5 million in 2005 and $4.7 million last year.)

More thoughts on Day One, and the graded handicap for Day Two, later tonight.