10/05/2011 12:20PM

Breeders' Cup: Preps add little clarity to Turf field

Shigeki Kikkawa
Acclamation goes into the Breeders’ Cup off a measured three-quarter-length victory in the Clement Hirsch at Santa Anita.

Three major races in the Breeders’ Cup Turf division this past weekend provided little help sorting out the contenders for the $3 million race.

In New York, where the going in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic resembled a bog, Cape Blanco won his third U.S. Grade 1 turf race this year – and promptly was retired with an injury. The horse he narrowly beat, Dean’s Kitten, has never won a graded turf stakes and probably was one of the few animals who didn’t mind the extreme course conditions. Winchester, fourth in the 2010 Turf, was beaten almost 20 lengths.

In California, Acclamation won his fifth race in a row with a three-quarter-length score over Champ Pegasus in the Clement Hirsch. The winner’s margin wasn’t large, but watching the race, there was no doubting the superior animal. Acclamation’s connections would have to pay $100,000 to get him into the Breeders’ Cup, and though they’re willing to do so, trainer Donald Warren has expressed a desire not to run on a grass course less than firm. That kind of turf condition is common during fall grass racing in Kentucky, and Acclamation could wind up in the Classic, if the course doesn’t suit his connections. Champ Pegasus, second in the 2010 Turf, is a likely runner again this year.

In Paris, 3-year-old German filly Danedream ran so well winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by five lengths that her connections might decide Danedream has done enough in 2011, though Danedream had been penciled in for a Breeders’ Cup trip a couple months ago. None of the Arc losers have made public a desire to come for the Turf, but with Cape Blanco out of the picture for trainer Aidan O’Brien, one of his Arc also-rans, St. Nicholas Abbey and Treasure Beach, could come to Louisville. Meanwhile, Michael Stoute-trained 3-year-old Sea Moon has moved into the “likely starter” category and could wind up the horse to beat in the Turf.