Updated on 09/15/2011 1:03PM

Countdown to the Cup: The Turf (9/20)


The horse who might very well have been the favorite for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf appears extremely doubtful to make the 1 1/2-mile race.

Bienamado, who suffered a slight injury to a splint bone when well beaten as the favorite in the Aug. 18 Arlington Million, has yet to return to training. "It will be very tough to make it," trainer Paco Gonzalez said Wednesday from his Santa Anita barn. "He hasn't trained at all since the Million. He's doing good, but we're taking another x-ray today to see if it's healed all the way. It could be another three or four days before he goes back to the track."

Even with Bienamado in or out, the Turf shapes up as another highly competitive affair, just as it has in most years recently. Godolphin Racing officials have said they are likely to point Fantastic Light, recent conqueror of Galileo, to the BC Classic, but clearly he would be a major contender in the Turf if there is a change of heart.

Otherwise, several upcoming preps appear likely to decide who the top threats will be. Not counting the European preps, which are led by the Oct. 7 Arc de Triomphe, the most important previews will be run next weekend in New York and California. Those races are the Turf Classic at Belmont on Sept. 29 and the

Clement Hirsch Memorial at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet on Sept. 30. Both are Grade 1 races, with the Turf Classic run at 1 1/2 miles and the Hirsch at 1 1/4 miles.

With Anticipation, the impressive winner of the Man o' War, has to be considered the leading prospect on the East Coast. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, the gray 6-year-old has improved dramatically this year and stands to benefit from familiarizing himself with the Belmont layout. He will be the favorite in the Turf Classic under Pat Day.

Others with tentative designs on the Turf are King Cugat for trainer Bill Mott; Senure for Bobby Frankel; Blueprint for Bob Hess Jr.; and other fringe types such as Slew Valley, Lazy Lode, Timboroa and Fusaichi Zenora.

This weekend, the $300,000 Kentucky Cup Turf will be run at Kentucky Downs, but the 1 1/2-mile race cannot be expected to produce any major contenders for the Turf.