11/05/2009 10:28PM

The Other Classic


NY Harty

Why is this man smiling? That's easy...scoreboard. Now that the World Series is out of the way, trainer Eoin Harty (a die-hard Yanks fan from Dublin by way of California) can concentrate on putting the finishing touches on Colonel John for his career finale in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Colonel John finished sixth in the big race last year, and he has been touting his people with brisk works and strong gallops leading up to the race. His sire, Tiznow, won the Classic twice, and Colonel John's best race came in the 2008 Travers at the Classic distance of a mile and a quarter. Still, he's had a number of chances in good company--in races like the Derby, the Swaps, the Goodwood, and the Pacific Classic--and has found a way to lose. Those backing him Saturday should hold out for a healthy price.

As for Harty's front-running haberdashery, his wan't the only Yankees cap seen around Santa Anita the morning after Game Six. Trainers Bill Mott and Jim Cassidy protected their tender pates with Bomber blue, as did Santa Anita assistant clerk of scales Charlie "Do It All" McCaul. In fairness, they were all wearing those hats long before the Phillies flopped. But, sadly, they will still be wearing them this winter when the Series result is long forgotten. Ah well, let them have their memories.


Anyone who happened to read my column about Garrett Gomez in the Friday editions of Daily Racing Form and on the DRF website will have absorbed some misinformation. Gomez does not, repeat not, ride Sword Dancer Stakes winner Telling in the Breeders' Cup Turf on Saturday. Javier Castellano will be in the saddle. Gomez in fact rides 11 of the 14 Breeders' Cup events.

The Gomez card (Gayego, Lookin at Lucky, Ventura et al) is obviously having an impact on the very early betting in the new Head2Head Jockey Advance Wager. Not that the Cup menu needs another item, but this one could be fun for casual players. Wins only count, with a tie at the end of the two days treated as a dead heat. Julien Leparoux, with 11 mounts (Forever Together, Informed Decision, Einstein) is getting bet, as is Rafael Bejarano, whose line-up of seven mounts is really not that strong (Ferneley, Monzante, Get Funky). There is a field bet that includes all others, and one of "others" is Alex Solis, who won two races when the Breeders' Cup was an eight-race program at Santa Anita in 2003. Solis rides Magical Fantasy in the Filly & Mare Turf and Richard's Kid in the Classic.


On Friday, Rosemary Homeister will try to join Blythe Miller (2000 Steeplechase) and Julie Krone (2003 Juvenile Fillies) on the list of women who have ridden the winner of a Breeders' Cup event. Homeister will be riding Cloudy's Knight for Jonathan Sheppard and owners Shirley and Jerrold Schwartz of Chicago, who sent their horse to the Hall of Famer last year after he'd recovered from a soft tissue injury. Cloudy's Knight has won twice for Sheppard in two tries, and will be going in the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon at 1 3/4 miles on the main track.

"When I was asked if I would take an 8-year-old coming back from an injury, I was naturally a bit skeptical," Sheppard said. "Then I was told he'd won more than two million dollars. That got my attention. I've learned I shouldn't make too many snap judgments. I once got a call from a gentleman named W.T. Young who was relatively new to the business and wondered if I'd train a son of Storm Bird for him. I'd never heard of him, so I said I call him back in a couple of days. I'm glad I did."

You guessed it. The colt was Storm Cat. Sheppard has no idea how Cloudy's Knight will handle the synthetic surface, but he at least knows that if worse comes to worse, the old horse might have a future over the jumps.

"We actually did let him go over a few little logs back home at first," said Sheppard, North America's all-time leading steeplechase trainer. "But when it was apparent he was staying sound, we stopped that and went on with him. He seemed to enjoy it, though."