10/26/2005 12:00AM

BC Turf: Alkaased defection leaves baker's dozen


ELMONT, N.Y. - Shakespeare and Azamour, major stakes winners in recent months, will start from the middle of the gate for Saturday's $2,280,000 Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park. The field for the race was reduced to 13 after the withdrawal of Alkaased on Wednesday.

Shakespeare, the undefeated winner of the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 1, will break from post 5, and Azamour, a two-time Group 1 winner in England during the summer, will break from post 7.

Three other contenders - Shirocco, Bago, and the defending Turf champion, Better Talk Now - drew posts 2 through 4 in the 1 1/2-mile race. Shirocco is 20-1 on the morning line but is known to like soft turf, a condition likely to be prevalent on Saturday. He was fourth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Oct. 2.

Trainer Luca Cumani said Alkaased had a high blood count Wednesday, and didn't enter the horse. "It was found the first thing this morning," he said. "Perhaps it's a little infection."

Cumani had earlier said that Alkaased didn't like soft turf. Cumani said Alkaased will be pointed for the Japan Cup in late November.

Bill Mott, who trains Gun Salute and Shakespeare, said he was disappointed with the draw for Gun Salute, the winner of the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August. Gun Salute will start from the outside, post 13.

"I thought we drew good with Shakespeare, but not as good with Gun Salute," Mott said. "I'd like to have seen him in the inside half."

Gun Salute is one of two 3-year-olds in the field. The other is English Channel, the runner-up in the Secretariat and Turf Classic, who will break from post 10.

The pace will be set by Shake the Bank, who drew the rail. Shake the Bank is a stablemate of and rabbit for Better Talk Now, the winner of the United Nations Handicap and Man o' War Stakes this year.

Shake the Bank's presence on the rail pleased trainer Mike Mitchell, who starts Leprechaun Kid, the winner of the Del Mar Handicap in August. Leprechaun Kid will start from post 12.

Leprechaun Kid led throughout the Del Mar Handicap, but Mitchell said he does not want jockey Garrett Gomez to engage Shake the Bank early.

"I wanted to get on the outside of that horse," Mitchell said.

Azamour drew post 5, but post position does not concern trainer John Oxx as much as soft ground, which Oxx says Azamour would not prefer. "It's very deep," Oxx said Wednesday after Azamour galloped on turf. "You can stick your heel in as far as you'd like. We're here. We're not going to pull out."

The field

Breeders' Cup Turf
Purse: $2,280,000; 1 1/2 miles, turf; Grade 1

1Shake the BankT. Turner12699-1
2ShiroccoC. Soumillon12620-1
3BagoT. Gillet1265-1
4Better Talk NowR. Dominguez1268-1
5AzamourM. Kinane1267-2
6AceK. Fallon12612-1
7ShakespeareJ. Bailey1263-1
8SilverfootR. Bejarano12630-1
9Fourty Niners SonC. Nakatani12615-1
10English ChannelJ. Velazquez12110-1
11Laura's Lucky BoyG. Stevens12620-1
12Leprechaun KidG. Gomez12620-1
13Gun SaluteC. Velasquez12120-1

* Track odds