Updated on 09/15/2011 2:06PM

Coundown to the Cup: The Turf (9/27)


With Bienamado sidelined, there is no clear leading American candidate for the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont on Oct. 27. That situation should change this weekend.

During the spring and summer, Bienamado dominated the division, winning stakes at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. After finishing unplaced in the Arlington Million, Bienamado came down with a splint bone injury that will keep him out for the rest of the year.

Without Bienamado, a new division leader may emerge from the major stakes that will be run this weekend at Belmont Park and Santa Anita. The United States contenders for the Turf will be joined by several Europeans, who will be determined after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Oct. 7.

Major stakes winners With Anticipation and Blueprint are not racing this weekend, but remain firmly committed to the Turf.

Saturday at Belmont Park, King Cugat will be heavily favored in the $750,000 Turf Classic, which is run over 1 1/2 miles, the same distance as the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Among King Cugat's expected opponents are Timboroa, winner of the Del Mar Handicap; Cetewayo, who was sixth in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Turf; Slew Valley, who was third in the Sword Dancer Handicap; and Mutafaweq, an invader from Europe.

King Cugat won the Bowling Green and was a troubled second to With Anticipation in the 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer Handicap at Saratoga, which was his last start.

Trainer Bill Mott is not concerned about King Cugat being able to get 1 1/2 miles, even though King Cugat has not won at that distance.

"I think we can say that it looks as though he's going to stay on," he said. "It looks like last time the 1 1/2 miles was no problem for him.

"We've been able to put him on a very steady schedule and he's coming into [the Turf Classic] in pretty good order. There's been no setbacks since his last race."

Sunday at Santa Anita, the field for the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship, over 1 1/4 miles, includes horses prepping for the Breeders' Cup and those who are unlikely to run in the Turf.

Senure and Kudos could start in the BC Turf if they run well in the Hirsch, but Penamacor and Cagney are unlikely to run in the Turf because they would have to be supplemented. Trainer Neil Drysdale said White Heart, who won the Woodford Reserve Stakes at Churchill Downs in May, will run in the Hirsch, but he is not a Breeders' Cup candidate.

Blueprint, the winner of the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park in July, will be trained up to the Turf, trainer Bob Hess said.