10/10/2012 6:01PM

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint: Caracortado will have to wait until next year


Caracortado is still pointing to the Breeders’ Cup. It’s just not this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

Trainer Mike Machowsky was hoping to get Caracortado to the starting gate for the 2012 Breeders’ Cup off a long layoff, but the 5-year-old gelding has not progressed to the point where in three weeks he will be ready to face the best in the division. Machowsky said Caracortado could now focus on a 2013 campaign, starting with the same race he won at the start of this year, the Grade 3 Daytona at Santa Anita in January, and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is again a long-range goal.

“He shed his frog last April, so we’ve been dealing with that a while, and though we got it looking pretty good, there were a couple of days where he had some pus coming out,” Machowsky said. “I’m not going to push on him just to make one race. We’ve got to put him first, so we’ll wait until he’s 100 percent.”

◗ California Flag, another California-based turf sprinter who’s been trying to return from a layoff, is likely to be ready to run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint for the fifth consecutive year.

“He’s been doing really well,” trainer Brian Koriner said. “He worked three-quarters on Saturday [1:14.60, handily] and did it well. I feel like we’re in a good spot. He does run well fresh. He won his last race [the April 21 San Simeon Handicap] off the layoff.”

The 8-year-old gelding, who won this race in 2009, developed some problems following the win in the San Simeon, which was his first start since finishing a troubled 12th in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

“He had some inflammation on the inside of his left leg ankle,” said Koriner, who planned to either train California Flag into the Breeders’ Cup or run him Sept. 28 in the Eddie D Stakes as a prep. When he wasn’t ready for that race, Koriner skipped it and will hope to have him 100 percent by Nov. 3.

“I didn’t want to rush him, and have something go wrong there and then not be able to run in the Breeders’ Cup after all this,” Koriner said. “We figured we’d just keep getting him ready, and if he’s ready for the Breeders’ Cup, then he’s ready. If he’s not, he’s not. But he’s doing well.”

◗ Bridgetown has been confirmed as a starter in the Turf Sprint by trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Speightstown lost his first three starts of the year, but has now won two straight including the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday.

“I was pleased with the race, and pleased with the way he came out of it,” Pletcher said. “After talking to Phil Hronec, we’ve decided to go for it.”

Hronec is the general manager of Eugene and Laura Melnyk’s Winding Oaks Farm, the owner of Bridgetown.

This will be Bridgetown’s first race at exactly 6 1/2 furlongs and his first over the downhill course at Santa Anita, but Pletcher pointed out that while his recent success has been in shorter races, the 5-year-old also has won going longer.

“It may seem this could be a little further than he wants to run, but he does have some 2-year-old form at a mile there, so we know he likes the course,” said Pletcher, referring to Bridgetown’s second-place finish in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, run at a mile at Santa Anita. He also captured the Summer Stakes at Woodbine that season.

◗ Bated Breath, who would have been one of the top contenders in the Turf Sprint, was retired over the weekend. The son of Dansili will stand at stud next season.

◗ There have been quite a few recent developments as the field for the Turf Sprint takes shape, but one thing remains constant – King Leatherbury, owner and trainer of Ben’s Cat, remains squarely on the fence.

Ben’s Cat comes off yet another win, the 18th of his career, in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint at Laurel on Saturday, earning $55,000. His victory in his previous start, in the Turf Monster at Parx Racing, earned him an automatic entry into the field for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, but since he’s not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup, Leatherbury would need to supplement him at a cost of $100,000.

“He came out of the race okay – a little tired, but that’s normal for him,” Leatherbury said. “But we’re still in the same predicament as we were before the race. It makes some sense to do it – the prestige of winning that kind of race is something to think about – but I still have to come up with $100,000.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the trainer of Caracortado. It is Mike Machowsky, not Mike Mitchell.