Updated on 09/15/2011 2:12PM

Countdown to the Cup: The Mile (10/11)


Three days after Val Royal's victory in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile on Sunday, trainer Julio Canani was amazed at the 5-year-old's condition.

Twice in his two-year American career, Val Royal has returned from major stakes with injuries. He suffered a bowed tendon following the 1999 Del Mar Derby and had foot problems following a second in the Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita last March.

But on Wednesday, Canani pronounced Val Royal ready for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park on Oct. 27.

"He looks super," Canani said. "So far, he's doing unbelievable. His feet are good, his tendon is good. This is a very nice horse. Maybe now he'll get his chance."

Val Royal must be supplemented to the Mile for $90,000 by owner David Milch, a television producer. Val Royal's victory in the Oak Tree Mile puts him among the top contenders for the Mile, along with the European star Noverre and the California stakes winner Irish Prize, who is trained by Neil Drysdale.

Other top contenders include Forbidden Apple, who won the Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park last Saturday, and Numerous Times, the winner of the Atto Mile.

Typical of most runnings, the Mile is expected to have a large field, drawing horses from North America and Europe.

The European team is led by Noverre, the runner-up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in late September. Other European probables are Black Minnaloushe, Medicean, and Amonita.

Black Minnaloushe won the St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but is winless in three subsequent starts. Medicean won the Eclipse Stakes in England in the summer, while Amonita needs a win in Sunday's Group 1 Prix de la Foret to be considered for the Mile.

Brahms, fourth in the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile on Sunday, will be pre-entered on Monday, according to trainer Elliott Walden. Winless in six starts this year, Brahms has been second or third in four major stakes.

"I think he deserves another chance," Walden said. "I think the pace in the Breeders' Cup will work to his advantage."

Brahms was ridden by Gary Stevens in the Shadwell Mile, but will need a new rider in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Stevens will ride Irish Prize, the winner of the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park last May.

Jim and Tonic, Thady Quill, and I've Decided will pass the Mile.

Jim and Tonic is being pointed to a race in Hong Kong in December. Thady Quill and I've Decided were second and third behind Val Royal in the Oak Tree Mile. Thady Quill will be pointed to a 2002 campaign, while I've Decided is bound for the Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park in late November.