09/05/2001 11:00PM

Bald Eagle soft spot for John's Call

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A change of plans by trainer Tom Voss has landed Grade 1 winner John's Call in Saturday's $100,000 Bald Eagle Breeders' Cup Handicap at Pimlico, rather than the $500,000 Man o' War at Belmont Park, the same day.

Voss chose the one-mile Bald Eagle over the 1 3/8-mile Man o' War, a Grade 1, because it's an easier spot for 10-year-old John's Call, who is looking to rebound from finishing ninth and last in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 12.

John's Call, the 122-pound highweight, will be the favorite in the nine-horse Bald Eagle field.

John's Call, who won the Bald Eagle in 1999, won last year's Sword Dancer and was the third choice in this year's running. Voss said his gelding bled in the Sword Dancer and will race with Lasix for the first time in his career in the Bald Eagle.

Voss is willing to toss the Sword Dancer effort, but said until he knows where he stands with John's Call, he wanted to place him in a softer spot than the Man o' War.

"I hope all it was, was the bleeding," Voss said. "He bled enough to stop an elephant. It all points to the bleeding, but I wanted a little easier spot first time back. I feel we should look after the horse and see where he takes us."

Voss said if John's Call performs well in the Bald Eagle, he would consider running him back in the $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational, a race he won last year, at Belmont Park on Sept. 29.

John's Call, who worked a half-mile in 50.00 seconds with Lasix at Saratoga on Monday, drew post 2 with Jean-Luc Samyn named to ride.

John's Call's biggest threat could come from In Frank's Honor, who is based at Belmont Park with trainer Bill Mott. In Frank's Honor is a perfect fit at a mile, while John's Call is probably better going longer.

In his last three starts, each at a mile, In Frank's Honor has a win, a second, and a third. During the summer, In Frank's Honor was a sharp second to Affirmed Success in the Grade 3 Poker.

Sir Howard, a Group 2 winner in New Zealand earlier this year, was beaten less than seven lengths when finishing ninth in his American debut in the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga on Aug. 25. Sir Howard, a 5-year-old gelding, would be helped by a course with moisture in it.

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