10/04/2005 11:00PM

BC Juvenile: First Samurai has room to improve

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First Samurai, winning the Hopeful under Jerry Bailey, is 3 for 3 but has a tendency to lug in.

Even as First Samurai was winning his first three races with authority, trainer Frank Brothers felt his horse could have done it more professionally.

In winning an allowance race and the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, First Samurai displayed a tendency to lug in during the stretch run. So in the six weeks between the Hopeful and Saturday's Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, Brothers has been training the colt with a purpose.

"He's had four breezes, and he had four pace horses in each of his breezes," said Brothers, who had the horse with him at Churchill Downs until shipping him to Belmont a week ago. "We made him go around, inside, go right on by, go by slow. We changed the bit on him and he's been very good in the mornings. My riders have done an excellent job there. Hopefully, that'll equate to the afternoons. In his first three races he's done a couple of little quirky things. Hopefully, as he goes down the line he will learn his lessons and run straight."

Brothers believes First Samurai will have to be more professional if he is to be a factor in races like Saturday's Champagne and the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Brothers will also be represented in this weekend's other Juvenile prep, the $500,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. Brothers starts Cradle Stakes winner Laity in that spot.

Brothers shipped First Samurai to Belmont on Sept. 29, and two days later had him breeze five furlongs over the main track. In that breeze, First Samurai started five lengths behind two Bill Mott-trained horses and went by them with no problem while stopping the clock in a bullet 58.44 seconds. Jockey Jerry Bailey was aboard for the move.

"It was the first time Jerry had been on him since the Hopeful, and he was pretty happy the way he worked," Brothers said. "We gave him the chance to lug in and he never thought about it."

First Samurai heads what is likely to be a compact field in the Champagne. Among his challengers will be Henny Hughes, the horse First Samurai defeated soundly in the Hopeful; Too Much Bling, third in the Hopeful; Flanders Fields, a good-looking maiden winner here in his second start; and Deputy Glitters. Tim Ritchey is expected to enter Kid Lemonade and Menacing in both the Champagne and in Saturday's Grade 1 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity. Ritchey plans to run one in each race, but will study the fields before committing. Ritchey entered those two horses as well as Southern Success in Saturday's Dover Stakes at Delaware, but is more likely to run Southern Success in that spot.

Kid Lemonade, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, has won 2 of 4 starts and finished second behind the promising Superfly in the Whirling Ash Stakes on Sept. 17 at Delaware Park. His last three starts have been around two turns and with blinkers. Menacing, another son of Lemon Drop Kid, won his debut at a mile by 5 1/4 lengths at Delaware in the race immediately preceding the Whirling Ash.

"I need to see how much speed is actually in the Champagne," Ritchey said. "The Lane's End would probably be the easier of the two races. Kid Lemonade is a horse that is going to sit off the pace, not make a huge run, but gradually move up on horses.

"Menacing, he shows me he can accelerate pretty quickly," Ritchey added. "If there's a lot of speed, he can sit back and relax and kind of gather him up. He is the more likely to run in the [Champagne]. I want to see who all shows up in which races; we want to try and get graded-stakes money."

Ritchey said Dixiewink, the third-place finisher in the Grade 2 Futurity, is still recovering from a lung infection and will not race this weekend. Ritchey said Dixiewink is still being considered for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

* Bro Lo, a speedy California-bred, is out for the year with an ankle chip. Still, trainer Doug O'Neill hopes to have two horses in the Juvenile. Stevie Wonderboy, the Del Mar Futurity winner, will train up to the race, while Jealous Profit, third in the Norfolk, will also run back.

Juvenile Contenders
2-year-old colts & geldings, 1 1/16 miles. Purse: $1.5 million.

RANKHORSETRAINERODDS
1First SamuraiF. Brothers3-1
Dominated Hopeful despite racing greenly; figures to only improve
2Henny HughesP. Biancone4-1
Second best in Hopeful at 3-5, but is capable of a stronger effort
3Sorcerer's StoneP. Byrne8-1
Trainer who brought you Favorite Trick has another serious 2-year-old
4Private VowS. Asmussen6-1
Crushed an iffy field in the Futurity; only loss was to Sorcerer's Stone
5Stevie WonderboyD. O'Neill5-1
Strange that the Dmr Futurity winner isn't having a traditional final prep
6George WashingtonA. O'Brien10-1
Won 4 straight; trainer won this at Belmont in 2001 with Johannesburg
7Horatio NelsonA. O'Brien10-1
Stayed undefeated in Paris; already a favorite for 2006 Epsom Derby
8Flanders FieldsD. Stewart15-1
A.P. Indy-Flanders colt devoured one mile in eye-catching maiden win
9Brother DerekD. Hendricks15-1
Led all the way in the Norfolk, but the field, final time, was not great
10A.P. WarriorE. Harty12-1
Was a hard-trying second in the Norfolk, but how good was that race?
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.