Updated on 09/15/2011 2:06PM

Countdown to the Cup: the Classic (9/27)


Include's march to the top of the handicap division was interrupted this summer because of a minor injury, but he can reestablish himself as one of the leading contenders for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic with a victory in Friday night's $500,000 Meadowlands Cup.

The Meadowlands Cup, which also features the top older horse Broken Vow, is one of two significant races this weekend for horses with designs on the Classic, to be run Oct. 27 at Belmont Park. The other race is Saturday's $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown, which is headed by last year's champion 2-year-old colt, Macho Uno.

The Meadowlands Cup is the far more interesting of the two, in part because both Include and Broken Vow have indicated they are bubbling just below the surface of the division's best. Include, in particular, was dazzling this spring, when his five-race win streak included a victory over Albert the Great in the Pimlico Special.

Include finished third, behind Albert the Great and Lido Palace, in the Suburban Handicap. Lido Palace and Albert the Great finished first and second after that in both the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes, underscoring the strength of the Suburban. And considering that Include came out of the Suburban with a minor injury, it is not a leap of logic to consider that he could be among the division's leaders when at his best.

"He irritated an old splint on the inside of his right foreleg. It irritated the high suspensory," said Bud Delp, Include's trainer. "He was never lame or sore, but it affected him when he extended."

The timing was treacherous. Delp said the conventional treatment would have been to apply a counter-irritant to the injured area. "But that would have put him out for the rest of the year," he said. Instead, hoping to get Include back for the fall, Delp decided to try a different approach. He figured if it worked, Include could make the Breeders' Cup, with time for one prep. And if it didn't, he'd use the conventional treatment and put Include away for the year.

"He had shock treatment," Delp said, referring to a process whereby the affected area is treated with ultrasound waves. "It's not like Jack Nicholson in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' We did it four times. He'd have the treatment, then walk for three days, then jog for four days. After the fourth treatment, we could go ahead and do more with him. We couldn't have made the Breeders' Cup any other way."

Delp said he originally thought Include might make his comeback in last weekend's Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. "But I would have had to push him too hard," he said. Instead, he decided to point for the Meadowlands Cup.

"He's been away for three months, and that will take a toll, but he's training well up to it," Delp said. "Broken Vow is on top of his game. But if he runs a top race, I'd like to take a chance in the Breeders' Cup Classic."

But Delp said that in order to go to the Classic, Include "would just about have to win."

"He ran so well in the Pimlico Special and the Mass Cap. If he comes back to that form, I think he's got a legitimate chance in the Breeders' Cup."

In other Classic developments:

*Macho Uno was sent to Thistledown for the Ohio Derby after recovering sufficiently from a bout with colic last weekend. "He's leaving tonight," said his trainer, Joe Orseno, Wednesday from his barn at Belmont Park. "He came out of it 110 percent, and that's the only way we would run him. We decided to stick with our original plan." Had Macho Uno been forced to skip

the Ohio Derby, he likely would have raced one week later in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, a far tougher race. Gary Stevens rides Macho Uno.

*Tiznow returned to the track Wednesday morning at Santa Anita for a jog for the first time since his workout on Monday. He is scheduled to work again early next week. His trainer, Jay Robbins, said he and co-owner Michael Cooper would decide on whether to run at Belmont Park in the Jockey Club Gold

Cup on Oct. 6, or at Santa Anita in the Goodwood Handicap on Oct. 7, after reviewing the weight assignments for the Goodwood, which will be released early next week. Tiznow won last year's Goodwood before his victory in the Classic.

*Even though Bernie Flint has been listed as the trainer of Outofthebox throughout his career, his training has been overseen by Flint's son, Steve.

After last weekend's Super Derby victory, Steve was named as the colt's official trainer. "Let me give you his new trainer," Bernie said, handing the phone to his son. Steve Flint said he had not decided where to run Outofthebox next. "He's just starting to mature," Steve Flint said. "There's a Breeders' Cup every year, but I've only got one of him."