Updated on 09/16/2011 8:29AM

BC Countdown - Turf: Skies can dampen Sheppard chances


The waiting game has begun for the connections of With Anticipation, a leading contender for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 26.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard insists that With Anticipation needs a firm grass course to be at his best in the Turf. He is closely monitoring the Chicago weather as the Breeders' Cup grows closer.

Rain and snow were forecast for Thursday, but the weather is supposed to be dry over the weekend. "The rain is probably saving itself for the three days before the race," Sheppard said with his dry sense of humor.

"I think it's great that they haven't had the rain that we have in Kentucky and the mid-Atlantic region."

With Anticipation brings top American credentials to the Turf, which will include runners from Europe and the United States. During the summer, With Anticipation won three Grade 1 races - the United Nations at Monmouth, the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, and the Man o' War at Belmont Park, all on firm going. He finished a disappointing sixth in the Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Sept. 29 over a course rated good.

On Wednesday, With Anticipation officially worked five furlongs in 1:04.40 on the Saratoga turf training course. Sheppard said it was actually a one-mile workout, but that the 7-year-old With Anticipation started out in a modest gallop before accelerating.

"It was the first time he's worked since his race," Sheppard said. "I was very happy with the way he went."

Since the Turf Classic, With Anticipation has undergone two sessions with a chiropractor to treat his back. "He gets a little jammy in his hindquarters," Sheppard said. "The chiropractor said the horse is in outstanding shape."

With Anticipation is scheduled to work at Belmont Park next Tuesday and Wednesday before taking the 12-hour van ride to Chicago on Thursday.

Pre-entries for the Turf were made on Tuesday and the field was scheduled to be announced on Thursday. On Wednesday, there was a surprise among the European contenders.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien told the Racing Post that Hawk Wing has been pre-entered for the Mile and Classic and that High Chaparral, winner of the English and Irish derbies, has been pre-entered for the Turf. Hawk Wing had been considered a possibility for the Turf.

Since Friday, High Chaparral has been favored for the Turf by English bookmakers William Hill after Marienbard was withdrawn from the betting. The winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Marienbard may not start in Turf.

The U.S. contingent is led by Denon, who won the Turf Classic and the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park in June. He was a close second to With Anticipation in the Sword Dancer and United Nations. Other probables include the European shippers Ballingarry and Golan, as well as American hopes Blazing Fury, Falcon Flight, and The Tin Man.

Wednesday at Santa Anita, Falcon Flight worked five furlongs in 1:02.60. He was second to Ballingarry in the Canadian International at Woodbine on Sept. 29.