Updated on 09/15/2011 1:15PM

Countdown to the Cup: The Turf (10/18)


ELMONT, N.Y. - The fewer European hotshots that run in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 27, the happier trainer James Toner will be. Toner will saddle the longshot Blazing Fury in the 1 1/2-mile race.

When pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup were announced on Wednesday, two stars campaigned by Godolphin Racing - Fantastic Light and Sakhee - were listed with a first preference in the $4 million Classic. Galileo, the European star 3-year-old, also was pre-entered for the Classic.

"Can you imagine if all those horses raced in the Turf?" Toner asked. "It would have been the greatest race ever run. I hope they all run in the Classic."

Toner is likely to get part of his wish in the Turf. Blazing Fury is likely to face either Fantastic Light or Sakhee, pending a decision by Godolphin on entry day, Oct. 24, according to Simon Crisford, the manager of Godolphin Racing.

There were few surprises among the 16 pre-entries for the Turf. There will be a maximum of 14 starters, leaving two horses out of the main body of the field. But they are expected to start in other races. They are Balto Star, who also is entered for the Mile, and Kalypso Katie, entered in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Either of Godolphin's starters has the credentials to be favored. Sakhee won his third consecutive stakes in the prestigious Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 7, while Fantastic Light upset Galileo in the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 8.

Aside from Godolphin's starter, the top contenders are the winners of the two major preps at Belmont Park - With Anticipation (Man o' War Stakes, Sept. 8) and Timboroa (Turf Classic, Sept. 29) - and Mutamam, the winner of the Canadian International at Woodbine Sept. 30.

Other domestic contenders are Hap, who was second in the Arlington Million and will be trying 1 1/2 miles for the first time, and Blueprint, who has not started since winning the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 15.

Blazing Fury is among a group of longshots that includes Chorwon, Lodge Hill, Milan, Quiet Resolve, Slew the Red, and Slew Valley.

Blazing Fury won the Grade 3 Saranac Handicap at Saratoga on Sept. 2, and was fourth behind Timboroa in the Turf Classic. On Wednesday, Blazing Fury worked six furlongs in 1:15.28 on the Belmont turf.

The absence of some of the world's top turf horses in the field helped Toner and owners Caesar Kimmel and Ron Nicholson with their decision to enter Blazing Fury.

"We're here and you don't get that many shots," said Toner, who is stabled at Belmont. "It's worth a try. If we had to go someplace for the Breeders' Cup, I probably wouldn't go."

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