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The Beter Man Can - and did
NEW ORLEANS - Had events gone according to plan, The Beter Man Can would have spent her Saturday night last weekend in Vinton, La., participating in Louisiana Premier Night at little Delta Downs. But the plan for The Beter Man Can got scrapped - and that is not a bad thing.
Instead of running in a Louisiana-bred stakes in the western part of the state, The Beter Man Can will stay at home for the Grade 3, $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, a race in which she earned a start by winning the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes here a month ago. The Beter Man Can is a Louisiana-bred, but she does not require statebred-restricted races to be successful.
The funny thing is, The Beter Man Can's winter started on a sour note. Last fall, when she made the races, The Beter Man Can scored a pair of easy wins at Louisiana Downs, and when she started here Dec. 11 in the Champions Day Lassie, The Beter Man Can was odds-on to win, but she never got her legs under her and finished fifth.
"I'm still wondering why that happened, and I'll probably never know why," said Pat Mouton, who trains the filly for owner Stanley Seelig.
Seelig and Mouton were "taking a shot," Mouton said, running The Beter Man Can in the Tiffany Lass. Mouton said he thought his horse was talented enough to be competitive, but wasn't certain she was ready to show her best in her first start in a two-turn race.
"The two turns, that was the only question at the time," Mouton said. "We would've been pretty pleased if she'd run second or third. That put the icing on the cake."
Seelig bred The Beter Man Can and owns her dam and several siblings. Getting the filly Grade 3 placed would enhance the value of the other members of The Beter Man Can's family.
Stevens has insurance, will travel
Jockey Gary Stevens will ride in two stakes here Saturday after recently buying a supplemental insurance policy that provides him with increased coverage in the case of an accident.
Last fall, Stevens did not ride the Breeders' Cup program at Lone Star Park, citing the lack of coverage available to jockeys in states where jockeys are not covered by workers' compensation insurance. Coverage in Texas is limited to $100,000 for riders, but the Breeders' Cup later bought a policy that gave jockeys coverage up to $500,000 on that particular day.
Stevens said at the time that he would limit his riding to the five states where jockeys are covered by workers' compensation: California, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.
Stevens said he bought a policy last month that will allow him to ride throughout the nation.
"It was very difficult to get," Stevens said. "I'm capable of riding in other states. I'm going to look after myself."
Stevens said he sought the policy so it would provide him with substantial coverage in the event of an accident. In August 2003, Stevens was unseated near the finish of the Arlington Million at Arlington Park in Chicago and suffered a punctured lung. He returned to riding within a month.
Stevens declined to say how much the policy costs or how much coverage it provides.
"It gives me security that if I have an accident like Chicago, I'll be covered," he said.
Taking a shot with Bold Lion
It was a typical November late afternoon at Hawthorne Race Course, that is, nearly dark at midday, and not exactly easy on the eye, or any of the other senses. But the winner of the seventh race Nov. 14, a maiden sprint restricted to Illinois-breds, did not look at all typical. A horse named Bold Lion, breaking last from post 11, rushed up to reach contention of the backstretch, then made another move turning for homes, drawing steadily clear to score by almost six lengths.
And that was no fluke. Bold Lion came back with a subpar effort here Dec. 2, and afterward there might have been some question about how the horse fit with open company, but he quickly rebounded with a strong allowance victory on Jan. 13, earning a spot in Saturday's Risen Star Stakes.
"I've had some pretty decent horses," said trainer Spanky Broussard. "If I think he's a pretty good one, I have to give him a shot here."
If it's surprising Bold Lion has popped up in a graded stakes, neither could his rider, Jesse Campbell, have been expected to make this race. Campbell, a regular on the Chicago circuit, came to Fair Grounds in mid-meet, but has won 11 races here and landed the mount on Bold Lion in the allowance win.
Bold Lion, who blew out a sharp half-mile in 47.60 seconds Wednesday, has post 4 and could end up challenging Silent Bid for the early lead.
Eyes on Eddy looks ready
Eyes on Eddy is in a tough spot in the Silverbulletday, but the developing 3-year-old filly is itching to run and is going to get her chance.
"She ran in the Tiffany Lass and she finished well and galloped out really well," said Randy Martin, assistant to trainer Paul McGee. "We scoped her and she had a severe lung infection, which has been a chronic problem with her. We used an antibiotic we hadn't tried before, and it cleared her up completely. Knowing what we know, and getting 10 pounds from the highweights, we decided to enter."
Eyes on Eddy is also being considering for an allowance race for next week.
"It draws on Saturday," said Martin, "and if it fills, there's a good possibility we'll scratch out of the Silverbulletday and run her there."
McGee nominated Suave to the Mineshaft, but didn't enter the horse because he had a training setback.
"He had a minor infection in his left ankle and he missed some training," said Martin. "We worked him and he came back tired, so we decided against entering him"
Cascio hoping for rain
The forecast for sunny skies through Saturday might mean one of the best horses on the Fair Grounds backstretch will not be running on Louisiana Derby Preview Day. Gold Storm, who helped cut a 43.47-second half-mile in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and returned last month to win the Col. Power Handicap, is the topweight in the Taylor's Special. The race is carded for 5 1/2 furlong on turf, but trainer Bubba Cascio will scratch him if the race stays on the grass.
"Let's put it this way," said Cascio. "If it rains they're going to have a really good horse in that race."
If Cascio scratches Gold Storm he will point him toward the $125,000 Duncan F. Kenner Breeders' Cup Handicap, a six-furlong sprint here on March 19.
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen and John Swenson