Updated on 09/17/2011 11:56AM

Bowling Green has international cast


ELMONT, N.Y. - Something different this weekend: One horse refuses to train in normal fashion and has galloped up to his race. The other horse has never run in this country and is still a bit of an unknown quantity to his trainer. Yet both State Shinto and Thompson Rouge have run well on occasion overseas and are regarded as major threats here Saturday in the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the grass.

The horse who declines to break off for a formal work as we know it is State Shinto, a 7-year-old by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Pleasant Colony. State Shinto, owned by Sheikh Mohammed, has bedeviled his trainers throughout his career.

"He is a character," Kiaran McLaughlin admits. "He seems to enjoy trying you at times, and yet he's run some good races. He gets a lot out of his gallops, so we've raced him once in allowance company as a confidence-builder and he won it. That race and his gallops are his preparation for the Bowling Green."

Under the care of Australian trainer John Sadler for the past several seasons, State Shinto raced exclusively in Dubai, and had his moments. He seemed to improve with age; either that or his people were learning how to deal with him. This spring in the Dubai World Cup, he finished a respectable fifth, which could have been the key factor in the decision to bring him Stateside.

"He arrived about April 1, and Sadler had him in top shape," McLaughlin said. "We sent him to Saratoga, a wonderful place to train a horse, with my brother Neil in charge. All things considered, he has done well, but we'll find out more about that in the Bowling Green."

A big, strong individual, State Shinto will be ridden by Richard Migliore, who handled him nicely in his allowance victory last month.

State Shinto, by the way, is not the first horse who wouldn't train in the traditional manner. One who comes to mind is Needles, who refused to work between the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby of 1956 but won both races.

Thompson Rouge, a 4-year-old colt by Machiavellian, earned international attention last year when he won the Italian Derby at the Capanelle in Rome. He also received much favorable comment at Longchamp with his second-place finish in the Group 2 Prix du Conceil de Paris.

"He arrived from France June 1 and has trained well at Saratoga," said Bill Mott, the horse's new trainer. "The weather there has been much better than in New York, and we have been able to use the turf course consistently.

"Thompson Rouge appears to have adapted well, particularly in the area of diet," Mott continued. "He has thrived on our feed. Adaptation usually goes better in the spring and summer than in the fall. The horses are fresher and have more energy to deal with their new way of life."

The rangy Thompson Rouge, who will be ridden by Aaron Gryder, has an important engagement in the Bowling Green, his trainer emphasizes. Mott expects to learn about the level of competition his new addition can handle, and a good performance would enable the trainer to point for such Grade 1 features as Saratoga's Sword Dancer. A moderate showing would prompt a reassessment.