10/22/2006 11:00PM

Cup prospects galore on work tabs


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup draws nearer and horses from around the world begin descending on Kentucky, Flower Alley and Perfect Drift were among a slew of candidates out for serious work over the weekend at state racetracks and training centers.

Flower Alley, one of the 18 horses that trainer Todd Pletcher planned to pre-enter Monday for the Breeders' Cup, went six furlongs in 1:13.40 Sunday at Churchill Downs, while Perfect Drift went five furlongs in 1:02.40 Saturday at his Trackside training center base in Louisville.

Both horses will run in the $5 million BC Classic, the centerpiece of the $20 million championships. Perfect Drift, the richest North American-based horse currently in training with a bankroll of $4.6 million, will be making his fifth straight Classic start. With Joe Deegan aboard for the work, the 7-year-old Perfect Drift "finished up great in the last quarter, which was all we were looking for," said trainer Murray Johnson.

Other Classic contenders out for major workouts on Saturday were Sun King (five furlongs, 1:01.60) and Suave (one mile, 1:39.20), both at Churchill.

The list of other recent works toward the Breeders' Cup over the weekend included those by Lemons Forever (Distaff), who breezed a half-mile in 50 seconds Saturday at Churchill; Commentator (Sprint), a half-mile in 45.60 Saturday over the Keeneland Polytrack; Dreaming of Anna (Juvenile Fillies), a very swift seven furlongs in 1:24 Sunday at Keeneland; Gatorize (Juvenile Fillies), a half-mile in 49.20 Sunday at Churchill; Cacique (Turf), an easy six furlongs in 1:15.80 Sunday at Keeneland; Pegasus Wind (Juvenile), one mile in 1:44.20 Monday at Churchill; Sutra (Juvenile Fillies), a half-mile in 50.80 seconds Monday at Keeneland; Bushfire (Distaff), a half-mile in 49.20 Monday at Keeneland; Round Pond (Distaff), five furlongs in 1:02.60 Monday at Keeneland; and Appealing Zophie (Juvenile Fillies), six furlongs in 1:12.60 Monday at Keeneland.

Heavy influx of BC shippers on grounds

According to estimates by officials at both tracks, at least 18 Breeders' Cup candidates were in training at Keeneland as of Monday, and at least another 15 were already at Churchill. Besides Cacique, the most notable prospects at Keeneland include Lava Man (Classic), Gorella (Mile), and Great Hunter (Juvenile).

Churchill officials said shipments of horses from the East and West coasts were scheduled for Tuesday, with Better Talk Now (Turf) and Film Maker (Filly and Mare Turf) coming from Maryland, and Bordonaro (Sprint), Siren Lure (Sprint), and Hollywood Story (Distaff) flying in from California.

Among the locally based horses whose connections confirmed Monday that they had decided to pre-enter for the Breeders' Cup after some deliberation were Pegasus Wind (Juvenile), Lilly Carson (Juvenile Fillies), and Silverfoot (Turf).

Pletcher pair tops Jessamine

Pletcher appears to hold the strongest hand in the Thursday feature, the $125,000 Jessamine, for which nine 2-year-old fillies have been entered.

Pletcher will start the uncoupled duo of Brushed Gold (post 1) and Audacious Chloe (post 2) in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. Brushed Gold won a Belmont Park turf allowance two starts ago before finishing sixth as the favorite in the Miss Grillo Stakes, while Audacious Chloe won the Aug. 20 Junior Champion Stakes at Monmouth Park in her last start.

Brass Hat slowly rehabbing

Trainer Buff Bradley said last week that the recuperation of Brass Hat from an ankle fracture sustained in July is going as well as can be expected. Brass Hat, the multiple graded winner who was disqualified from second in the $6omillion Dubai World Cup in late March because he tested positive for a banned medication, is still a long way from a potential comeback race but is on the right track, said Bradley.

Brass Hat is at the family's Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky., where he is walking regularly on a mechanized walker.

"We'll have him doing that another four months or so and just see how he progresses," said Bradley. "But it is exciting to think that he might be able to come back."

On the recommendation of veterinarians, Brass Hat did not undergo surgery for the non-displaced fracture of a sesamoid bone in his right front ankle.

* Clock Stopper, whose career appeared finished when he sustained a bowed tendon in winning the Commonwealth BC here in April 2005, is nearing a race after having a recent workout at Churchill, said trainer Dallas Stewart.

* Two more first-call leaders went on to win Polytrack races Sunday, making them the seventh and eighth to do so in 103 events contested on the new surface. Desert Monarch narrowly held on to win the first race, and stakes-placed Teuflesberg drew off to win the fifth race.

* The Stalker, the 4-5 favorite, was disqualified from third to fourth for impeding Steelyeyed in the upper stretch in the last race Saturday, the first disqualification of the meet.

* Quite a few racetrackers will be absent from Keeneland on Friday to attend the evening wedding of trainer Niall O'Callaghan, 43, a lifelong bachelor. Many of O'Callaghan's family members from Ireland, along with his American colleagues and friends, will be among the 300-plus guests who will see him wed Kathleen Conrad of Louisville.