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Cryptonite Kid tries to live up to potential
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Cryptonite Kid showed plenty of potential on the turf last year, finishing fourth in the open Summer Stakes and a close second in the restricted Cup and Saucer.
Now, with just two starts under his belt this season, Cryptonite Kid will be looking to parlay that promise into a major victory in Sunday's $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, the 1 1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.
"When he worked him on the turf last year, he worked superior," said Danny Vella, who trains Cryptonite Kid and has an interest in the colt as a shareholder in Class Action Stable. "That's why we started him on turf and kept him on turf for his first four starts."
Cryptonite Kid debuted with a second-place finish over six furlongs last July and then graduated over that distance next time out.
His solid efforts in the one-mile Summer and 1 1/16-mile Cup and Saucer followed, and Vella then decided to give Cryptonite Kid a whirl on the Polytrack.
The experiment was unsuccessful, as Cryptonite Kid ended ninth in the 1 1/16-mile Display.
"He just didn't run well," said Vella, who then sent Cryptonite Kid to Classic Mile in Florida with an eye toward a 3-year-old turf campaign. Cryptonite Kid started training at the end of January, but the colt's progress was not smooth.
"He had a pus pocket in his foot for a while, and that put us behind," Vella said. "I would have liked to have got him started a little earlier, but it wasn't that bad."
Cryptonite Kid returned to Woodbine in early April and finished seventh when making his seasonal bow in a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and upward over seven furlongs of turf here May 25.
Four weeks later, in what stands as his last start, Cryptonite Kid was an even fourth in the Charlie Barley, an open stakes for 3-year-olds over one mile of grass that was won by Breeders' contestant Marlang.
"His first race he was in a bit of trouble, but his second race I was a tad disappointed," Vella said. "He finished well, but he didn't accelerate as well as I thought he would.
"There were some sick horses in the barn that week; maybe he wasn't quite himself."
Cryptonite Kid had been nominated to the Toronto Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race here July 12, but Vella elected to use a first-level turf allowance the following day as the colt's Breeders' prep. That plan backfired when the 1 1/4-mile allowance race, from which one-two finishers Sligovitz and Palmers have proceeded to the Breeders', was taken off the turf and Vella scratched Cryptonite Kid.
Vella, however, believes missing that start will not necessarily compromise Cryptonite Kid's chances.
"He's had some great works since then; he's ready," Vella said. "I think he's got as much a shot as anybody to get a mile and a half."
Tyler Pizarro, who was aboard when Cryptonite Kid worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 on the turf training course here Monday, will be the colt's new jockey for the Breeders'.
Vella will be looking for his third Breeders' win with Cryptonite Kid, having won the 1992 renewal with Blitzer and the 1994 running with Basqueian in his days as private trainer for Stronach Stable.
Basqueian's victory was particularly noteworthy as the Breeders' was run at Fort Erie that year while the finishing touches were being put on Woodbine's new E.P. Taylor turf course.
Connections target Breeders' repeat
Trainer Mark Casse, jockey Patrick Husbands, and Melnyk Racing Stable, who won last year's Breeders' with Marchfield, will be looking to double up here Sunday with Palmers, who has been entered in turf races on four occasions but had three of those switched to the main track.
"The one time he ran on turf, I thought it was an excellent race," said Casse, who watched Palmers run second, beaten a neck, in a first-level allowance race over 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds. In that race, Recapturetheglory, subsequent winner of the Illinois Derby, ended 1 1/2 lengths back in third.
"I don't think the distance will matter to him, either. He's been competitive at a mile and a quarter, and I don't think a mile and a half is a really big difference. The difference is the ability of being able to rate."
Palmers, who finished fifth in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate, comes into the Breeders' off a second-place finish in an off-the-turf first-level allowance race over the same distance.
That head defeat, which came after Palmers looked to be headed for certain victory at the eighth pole, followed an unfortunate trend that has seen the colt compile a record of 1-3-3 from 10 starts while showing a distinct lack of a killer instinct.
"It's frustrating," Casse acknowledged. "We've tried everything. But he comes and plays hard every time. I'm just hoping he has a better attitude when he's on the turf."
Marchfield points to With Approval
Marchfield, who was off for more than eight months after the Breeders', won a second-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs in his second start back but then disappointed badly as the choice here in the 1 1/2-mile Singspiel.
Although Marchfield was nominated to Monday's Grade 2, $300,000 Nijinsky, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, Casse plans to run the colt in next Saturday's With Approval at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The $100,000 With Approval, for Ontario-foaled 3-year-olds and upward, is an overnight stakes and will need a field of at least five to be carded. There are 20 nominees.
Casse will still be represented in the Nijinsky with Seaside Retreat, a 5-year-old gelding owned by Will Farish Jr.
Seaside Retreat, a closing third in the King Edward over 1 1/8 miles of yielding going here June 28, came back to win the off-the-turf allowance prep for the Nijinsky over 1 1/4 miles.
Ghost Hour, beaten a head there as the runner-up, also is in the Nijinsky lineup.
Strike a Deal and Independent George, who finished second and fourth in the Grade 1 United Nations over 1 3/8 of yielding turf at Monmouth Park last time out, are shipping in for the Nijinsky.
Jose Lezcano retains the mount on Strike a Deal, who is trained by Alan Goldberg, while Cornelio Velasquez picks up the mount on Independent George for trainer Graham Motion.