10/15/2008 11:00PM

Del Conte ruled out of Juvenile Turf


Less than five hours after the Breeders' Cup pre-entries were released, the first defection from a Breeders' Cup race due to injury was announced when trainer Bob Baffert declared Del Conte from the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

"He had some swelling in an ankle," Baffert said Thursday afternoon. "If it came down it will be all right, but the timing is not right for him."

Del Conte, winner of a maiden turf race at Del Mar on Aug. 21, had finished a close fourth in his last start in the Grade 1 Norfolk over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita on Sept. 28. He was entered at a cost of $10,000 and had been expected to be a mid-priced longshot in the Juvenile Turf.

His defection clears the way for British invader Donativum to draw into the race. The Breeders' Cup selection committee had listed him as the first alternate.

This leaves Vaquero next in line among the six remaining alternates, as determined by the committee, followed by Gallant Son, Star of David, Bourbon Bay, Orthodox, and Mark S the Cooler.

Gallant Son, a three-time stakes winner at Emerald Downs, was one of four horses cross-entered in the Juvenile Turf and the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile, both of which will be run Oct. 25. Although he did not make the body of the field for either race, with both oversubscribed, he seems likely to start in one of them.

The three other cross-entered juveniles - Coronet of a Baron, Elusive Bluff and Mine That Bird - landed in the body of the fields for both races, and all of their connections listed their preference to compete in the Juvenile.

If those connections stick to their initial preferences when final entries are made Tuesday, Gallant Man would have a starting spot in the Juvenile Turf - along with fellow alternates Vaquero and Star of David.

Or if the connections of one of those cross-entered horses were to opt instead for the Juvenile Turf, that would clear a spot for Gallant Son to make the Juvenile field, where he is the first alternate.

Frank Lucarelli, who trains Gallant Son for owners Chris and Diane Randall, said he would prefer the Juvenile over the Juvenile Turf, though he is hopeful his colt, a son of Malabar Gold, would handle the grass.

Michael Leahy - trainer of Vaquero, who ran fourth behind Bittel Road in the Grade 3 Bourbon on Oct. 5 - said he would work his colt Monday at Keeneland, and after evaluating how he exits that workout and the prospects of making the race, fly him to California on Tuesday.

The headliners in the Juvenile Turf are unbeaten graded stakes winners Bittel Road and Grand Adventure, and European shipper Westphalia, winner of the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Sept. 13 for trainer Aidan O'Brien.