10/06/2010 5:30PM

Bourbon, Breeders’ Futurity offer options


Last Saturday's Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park produced at least two likely starters for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in victorious Air Support and second-place Soldat.

This weekend Keeneland could very well showcase even more potential starters to that race, though perhaps from different preps. Both the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on Saturday and Sunday's Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes serve as launching pads into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

With the Breeders' Futurity, a $400,000 race, being run on Keeneland's synthetic Polytrack main track, a surface on which some turf horses handle effectively, some horsemen are opting to chase the bigger money and the prestige of the Breeders' Cup, rather than stick to the turf in the Bourbon, a $100,000 turf race at 1 1/16 miles that serves as a Win and You're In race toward the Juvenile Turf.

Rough Sailing, one of the leading contenders for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, was entered Wednesday in Breeders' Futurity and was to be cross-entered in the Bourbon when entries for that race are taken Thursday.

With an overflow of entries expected for the Bourbon, necessitating Rough Sailing win a "shake," or a draw by lot, to gain entry to that race, trainer Mike Stidham said he chose to put his colt in the Breeders' Futurity, rather than risk the danger of perhaps not running at all this weekend at Keeneland.

Rough Sailing is capable of handling either Polytrack or turf, though Stidham said he believes "his kick is a little better on the grass."

The colt showed an eye-catching turn of foot to win a maiden race on the grass at Arlington in April before running second to Major Gain in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity in his subsequent start on Polytrack there in a one-turn mile.
If Rough Sailing gets into both races, he is likely to be scratched from the Breeders' Futurity to run in the Bourbon.

Another Stidham-trained horse, Willcox Inn, a flashy maiden winner on the Polytrack at Arlington Sept. 18, would then be the stable's lone representative in the Breeders' Futurity.

Other leading Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf contenders likely to run at Keeneland this weekend include Major Gain, J. B.'s Thunder, and Typhoon Slew - who are entered in the Breeders' Futurity - and Moment of Weakness, Monzon, Stormy Rush, and Z Appeal - leading prospects for the Bourbon.

Absent from the Bourbon will be Powhatan County, the runner-up in the Grade 3 With Anticipation this summer at Saratoga. Scratched from last week's Pilgrim because of yielding ground, he did not ship to Kentucky for the Bourbon because he had a slight fever, trainer George Weaver said Wednesday.

Weaver did not rule out running Powhatan County in the Juvenile Turf off what would be a little more than a two-month layoff, but without a prep Powhatan County's participation in the Juvenile Turf is in doubt.