10/22/2002 11:00PM

BC Countdown -Juvenile: Sky Mesa, Toccet draw outside posts


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - With only about a 150-yard run to the first turn, and a full field entered for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, post position figures to play a significant role in the outcome of the race.

"Outside horses are going to be at a disadvantage, and the 1-hole is going to be a terrible place to be," trainer John Ward said early Thursday morning. "It's going to be difficult on maybe half the field."

When asked how far outside he felt would be treacherous, Ward said, "anything outside the 9-hole, it starts to get dicey."

Hours later, Sky Mesa was assigned post 9 for Saturday's $1.07 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park. Sky Mesa, the Hopeful and Lane's End Breeders' Futurity winner, was installed as the 7-2 morning-line favorite by Daily Racing Form handicapper Mike Watchmaker.

Considering Belmont Futurity winner Whywhywhy drew post 1 and Champagne winner Toccet drew post 14, Ward said he felt fortunate to draw the 9-hole.

"I probably would have been happier with 8, but the way it lines up with Whywhywhy inside and Toccet on the outside it probably helps our chances," Ward said. "Those are two quality animals. There are other quality ones in there, but that's going to put them at a little bit of a disadvantage."

When it was announced that Toccet drew post 14, trainer John Scanlan got up and left the room.

"I had to leave to give me some time to think," Scanlan said. "I'm on my fourth cigarette now. He impressed me in the Champagne coming up the rail. If he can win from [post 14], then he's going to keep on impressing me. Can we draw over? Best of three?"

Trainer Patrick Biancone did not agree with Ward's assessment that the rail would be detrimental to Whywhywhy, winner of the Flash, Sanford and Futurity. Whywhywhy had to be supplemented to the Juvenile for $90,000.

"That's beautiful," Biancone said of his colt's draw. "He can do what we want now. He's got tactical speed. It cannot be better."

A strong half-mile breeze by Zavata Wednesday morning convinced Biancone to enter him in the Juvenile as well. Zavata, who missed the Champagne when he kicked a stall wall and developed filling in an ankle, was training subpar when he first arrived here. But on Thursday, he pleased Biancone with his half-mile drill that he timed in 50.20 seconds. By Biancone's watch, Zavata got his last quarter in 23 seconds under exercise rider Tony Farina.

"Up until last week in the bottom of my heart I thought I had only one shot in the Breeders' Cup," Biancone said. "Today, now I think I have two shots."

Bob Baffert has three shot in Norfolk one-two finishers Kafwain and Bull Market and Kentucky Cup Juvenile winner Vindication. Those three - all of whom arrived here Thursday - drew posts 2, 5, and 6, respectively.

"That's good, I didn't want to be too far out," Baffert said. "They're training well. They're all ready to roll."

Trainer Aidan O'Brien will also have three shots. Hold That Tiger, winner of the Group 1 Grand Criterium, drew post 3. Van Nistelrooy, a troubled third in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes drew post 7 and John Velazquez was named. Tomahawk, who is running back a week after finishing second in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, drew post 11. Marino Marini, who was also pre-entered by O'Brien, did not get into the Juvenile. He was supplemented to Saturday's $100,000 Safely Kept Handicap for $4,000.

As part of the Bessemer Trust 2-Year-Old Challenge, six of the 14 horses entered in the Juvenile will be eligible for a $250,000 bonus should they win Saturday. Sky Mesa, Whywhywhy, Most Feared, Kafwain, Toccet, and Wando all won designated stakes during the year and are eligible for the bonus.