10/02/2007 11:00PM

BC Juvenile Turf: Old Man Buck undecided

EmailThe Leopard stamped himself a Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf contender with a victory in last Saturday's Pilgrim Stakes over the Belmont Park turf course.

This Saturday, the connections of Old Man Buck similarly hope he can punch his Breeders' Cup ticket with a strong performance in the Grade 1 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, a 1 1/16-mile race over Polytrack.

It remains to be seen whether a positive effort would send him to the Juvenile Turf or the Juvenile. Trainer Ken McPeek said he is weighing both options for Old Man Buck, winner of the Cradle Stakes on turf at River Downs on Sept. 3.

He had pondered running Old Man Buck in Sunday's ungraded Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland as a prep for the Juvenile Turf, but opted for the richer, more prestigious Breeders' Futurity after a sharp workout over the Churchill Downs main track Sept. 29.

"He outworked one of the better older horses I have," McPeek said, while declining to name the other horse other than to say it is a stakes winner.

The Breeders' Futurity drew two other colts with established grass form among its field of 12 - Briarwood Circle and Adriano.

The futurity is a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and although it does not provide an automatic berth for the Juvenile Turf, a top-three placing in the Grade 1 race would greatly increase a horse's chances of gaining entry into what is expected to be an oversubscribed Juvenile Turf field.

Bypassing Sunday's Bourbon Stakes is Big Brown, his connections said. The 2-year-old Boundary colt missed the Pilgrim Stakes due to some undisclosed physical problems, issues that were not resolved in time to run in the Bourbon.

Michael Sherack, vice president of investor relations for International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Inc., which owns a majority interest in the colt, said the owners hope he can still run in the Juvenile Turf, although he has not raced since winning first time out by 11 lengths at Saratoga on Sept. 3.

Why Tonto, Namaste's Wish, and Texas Fever won stakes last weekend that put them under consideration for the Juvenile Turf.