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Commentator drops out of Sprint
The talented but fragile Commentator on Monday was withdrawn from consideration for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint on Saturday at Churchill Downs, and the race could lose the filly Dubai Escapade at entry time Wednesday.
Commentator, according to his trainer, Nick Zito, aggravated an injury to his left front shin. X-rays were taken on Monday, and more were due to be taken Tuesday with Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., Zito said.
Commentator, 5, has raced just 11 times, including two starts this year after winning last year's Whitney Handicap. Because Commentator is a gelding, Zito said he expects owner Tracy Farmer to give the horse the time necessary to return to the races next year.
"What a drag," Zito said. "He re-aggravated an old injury. He'll eventually come back to racing. The Farmers, their first reaction was, 'Take care of the horse.' "
Commentator had been training at Keeneland over the Polytrack surface, and he worked over it Saturday. Zito said Commentator walked under the barn's shed row on Sunday, then "looked a little funny" when he returned to the track on Monday.
Commentator's defection allows Areyoutalkintome to get into the 14-horse Sprint, which had 16 pre-entries last week. The only alternate now is Lewis Michael, whose first preference is in the Mile.
Doug O'Neill, the trainer of Areyoutalkintome, was upset his horse was not among the top 14 last week when a selection committee made its decisions for the oversubscribed field. O'Neill first thought about taking Areyoutalkintome back to Santa Anita for last Saturday's Cal Cup, but then reconsidered, believing a horse like Dubai Escapade might withdraw.
And she might, too. Dubai Escapade worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds on Monday at Churchill Downs, the best time of 40 at the distance, but her trainer, Eoin Harty, said she "probably would go if Henny Hughes doesn't go."
Both Henny Hughes - the probable Sprint favorite who is trained by Kiaran McLauglin - and Dubai Escapade are owned by the Maktoum family of Dubai.
"It's like back-up insurance," said Harty, who said the De Francis Dash in Maryland at the end of the month "would be a possibility" before Dubai Escapade is retired at year's end.
* There were 15 pre-entries in the $2 million Juvenile. With a maximum field of 14, Zanjero was the odd horse out. He is entered in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race here Thursday, but his trainer, Scott Blasi, said he is still hoping to get into the Juvenile.
"We'll enter the Juvenile," Blasi said Monday morning. "I would run in the Juvenile if he gets in. Not knowing what's going on with everyone else's horse, we wanted to have a Plan B, so we entered him in the allowance race."
- Jay Privman
Juvenile Fillies: Lilly Carson in
It seems Lilly Carson will get to attend the Breeders' Cup party after all. After not being among the seven initial choices by the Breeders' Cup selection committee to make an oversubscribed Juvenile Fillies field, Lilly Carson, the first alternate, is now in a position to start. Her trainer, Ralph Nicks, was informed Sunday that she gained entry into the race with the defection of Untouched Talent.
Like all Breeders' Cup races, the Juvenile Fillies is limited to 14 starters. In each oversubscribed Breeders' Cup race, seven pre-entered horses automatically receive berths based on the most points earned by winning and placing in American graded stakes races. Lilly Carson did not qualify on points.
Her presence in the Juvenile Fillies will likely ensure a quick pace. Lilly Carson, a daughter of Carson City, has shown speed in her two starts. After winning her debut on the lead at Saratoga, she set the pace in the Oct. 14 Frizette Stakes before fading to third behind Sutra.
Jeff Bonde, trainer of Untouched Talent, confirmed her withdrawal from the race Sunday, saying she needed more time to sufficiently recover from corrective surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis.
The withdrawal of Untouched Talent also resulted in trainer Bernie Flint making alternative plans with Cohiba Miss, whom he scratched from Sunday's Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs. Initially the second alternate, she now is first in line to start if defection occurs before entries are taken Wednesday.
Awesome Ashley, who worked a half-mile Monday over the Belmont Park training track in 47.20 seconds for trainer Todd Pletcher, sits behind Cohiba Miss as the next alternate hoping to get into the Juvenile Fillies.
Three of seven remaining alternates - Mistical Plan, Pro Pink, and Baroness Thatcher - raced in the Pocahontas on Sunday, finishing second, fourth, and sixth.
- Byron King
Mile: Aragorn has final work
Aragorn, the dominant U.S.-based turf miler, completed preparations for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile by working six furlongs in 1:14 on Sunday over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track.
"Just a maintenance move," trainer Neil Drysdale said. "He worked with another horse. He just tracked the other horse. About a furlong from the end he took him outside and went [by] on his own."
Drysdale said Monday that Aragorn came out of the work in good order - he jogged one mile on Monday - and he was scheduled to ship from Southern California to Kentucky on Tuesday.
Aragorn will bring a four-race winning streak into the Mile, including victories in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup and Oak Tree Mile Breeders' Cup where Aragorn never felt the leather from Corey Nakatani's whip.
"His last two races have been very easy on him; Nakatani has been very easy on him," said Drysdale, who won the 2000 Mile at Churchill Downs with War Chant. "I'm very pleased with his preparation."
Aragorn will be on the same flight with Silent Name, who on Saturday worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds over Cushion Track.
Trainer Douglas Danner said Free Thinking, who was beaten a head by Ashkal Way in the Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont on Oct. 7, worked a slow mile on Saturday at Turfway Park. No time was recorded.
"He went awful good," said Danner, who confirmed that Jose Santos would ride. "He's doing as good as he could be doing."
* Trainer Patrick Biancone said he and owner Martin Cherry will wait until Wednesday morning to officially decide whether Gorella runs in the Mile or the Filly and Mare Turf. It is believed that Gorella, who worked an excellent five furlongs in 58 seconds Sunday morning at Keeneland, will run in the Mile
* In other Mile news, Ramon Dominguez has been confirmed as the rider for Rob Roy, who finished second to Pride in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 14. Also, Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said that Frankie Dettori would ride Echo of Light and Christophe Soumillon would ride Librettist.
- David Grening
Turf: Cacique, English Channel set to run
Cacique and English Channel, who figure to vie for favoritism in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf, were among a handful of Turf contenders to go through their final prerace workouts on Sunday.
Cacique breezed six furlongs over the Keeneland Polytrack in 1:13 before vanned to Churchill late Sunday afternoon. English Channel, who breezed five furlongs in 1:03.60 over the Belmont Park turf course Sunday, will be among the big Todd Pletcher contingent, including four Turf pre-entrants, to be flown here Wednesday from New York.
In other Turf works, Better Talk Now went six furlongs in 1:12.60, handily, over the Keeneland Polytrack on Sunday, and Rush Bay breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 Monday over the Churchill turf course. Trainer Tom Amoss called Rush Bay's workout "very good."
"Now all the horse has to do is run the race of his life to win," he said.
T.H. Approval, who arrived Sunday at Churchill following an early-morning charter flight from Southern California, made his first local appearance, galloping shortly after the harrow break Monday morning.
Hurricane Run and Red Rocks were among the European contingent that was sequestered on the Churchill backstretch after arriving here Sunday following an overseas flight. They were scheduled to go to the track for the first time Tuesday.
Scorpion was scheduled to arrive Tuesday as part of the Aidan O'Brien shipment from overseas.
- Marty McGee
Sprint: Dominguez to ride Friendly Island
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he has given Ramon Dominguez the call aboard Friendly Island in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Friendly Island, who finished third in the Grade 1 Forego but with only a single victory in seven starts this season, will be among the outsiders in the race. John Velazquez, Pletcher's first-call rider, will be aboard the heavy favorite Henny Hughes in the Sprint.
Friendly Island had his final tuneup for the Sprint on Monday, working a half-mile in 49.95 seconds over the Belmont Park training track.
- Mike Welsch