09/20/2007 11:00PM

Breeders' Cup questions, and answers

EmailPHOENIX - Questions, we have questions. With just over a month to go before the Breeders' Cup Day at Monmouth Park, the issue is, do we also have some answers?

We certainly do, so let's begin.

* Which horses have the most to prove in their Breeders' Cup preps?

Discreet Cat and Curlin. When last seen, Discreet Cat was finishing last in the Dubai World Cup. Of course, Discreet Cat came out of that race with an illness, so the effort was not a true indicator. Still, you always wonder about how a horse will come back from illness. We know that the pre-2007 Dubai World Cup Discreet Cat was more than capable of winning the BC Sprint or Dirt Mile, but he needs to show his old spark when he comes back in the Vosburgh.

Curlin, meanwhile, was third in the Grade 1 Haskell, but it was a disappointing third. He made a run but flattened out and was really no factor in the lane. His Preakness and Belmont performances show he can beat anyone, but he was asked to come farther and faster than just about any horse in history - from maiden to Preakness winner in just a couple months - so it could be that he used too much fuel on journey.

* Will Majestic Warrior win the BC Juvenile and stamp himself a star?

You don't see many young horses do what he did - running down the leaders with an explosive move in the final furlong - when he won the Grade 1 Hopeful over Ready's Image and Maimonides. He's a son of A. P. Indy, so if anything he figures to get better with more ground and more time. It also doesn't hurt him that Maimonides is injured and will miss the BC Juvenile; that Ready's Image didn't appear to want anything to do with more than seven furlongs; and that the California contingent has questions to answer in terms of distance and the handling non-synthetic footing.

* Will the Americans match up with the Europeans in the Breeders' Cup turf races?

Last year's Mile winner, Miesque's Approval, was always a good horse, but wasn't considered a top American miler. Better Talk Now wasn't considered this country's top turf router in 2004, but he beat some top-class Euros in the Turf. Singletary won the Mile in 2004 over some Euro bigshots.

These results show that even if there exists a talent gap in the turf divisions, the Euros still take all the worst of it. They have to ship halfway around the world and deal with time change, new surroundings, quarantine and unfamiliar courses. There have been some truly great Europeans who have come over and lost.

As far as this year goes, the Euros again look very tough in the Mile and Turf. Americans Shakespeare (Mile), Kip Deville (Mile), After Market (Turf or Mile, and I still believe he's better suited to the latter), English Channel (Turf) and The Tin Man (Turf) would be up against it should the likes of Dylan Thomas come for the Turf or Ramonti and George Washington come for the Mile.

The Filly and Mare Turf, however, may be a different story. The American division is replete with talent - Wait a While, Royal Highness, Nashoba's Key, Citronnade, Lady of Venice, Honey Ryder, Precious Kitten, and My Typhoon stack up very well against the Europeans. That is, unless win-machine Peeping Fawn decides to make the trip.

* Is Tasha's Miracle the real deal or a Polytrack specialist, and how much will missing the Del Mar Debutante hurt her?

She looked sensational winning Del Mar's Grade 3 Sorrento, a win that looks even better since the filly she easily defeated by more than three lengths, Set Play, came right back to win the Grade 2 Del Mar Debutante. But Tasha's Miracle tied up in the days leading up to the Debutante and had to scratch, and that's not exactly what you're looking for at this time of year.

On the other hand there's plenty of time to get her cranked up for the BC Juvenile Fillies, and trainer John Sadler noted that despite missing the Del Mar Debutante she didn't miss any training and would shoot for the Grade 1 Oak Leaf at Oak Tree at Santa Anita. And in case you thought you had to make each prep on the way, remember just a few years ago Tempera missed the Oak Leaf, trained up to the BC Juvenile Fillies, and won.

* Who is a horse who could jump up and surprise?

The Grade 2 Pat O'Brien winner Greg's Gold gets nary a mention these days, but this marvelous veteran, who came back after two years on the bench, is better than ever. He has a superb style for the sprint. He can blast home but has the speed to get position. And in a year without a real sprint monster to fear, his big gray frame could be awfully prominent turning for home in the Sprint.