10/26/2005 11:00PM

DRF Breeders' Cup Clocker Report: Thursday, October 27

Azamour works a half-mile in :54.25 over the soft turf at Belmont Park on Thursday.

Thursday, Oct. 27
Sunny, main track fast, turf soft; 42¦

ELMONT, N.Y. - The final week of training leading up to this year's Breeders' Cup was a strange one indeed with inclement weather wreaking havoc on the schedules of the majority of the Cup horses stabled at Belmont Park. Most of the serious activity took place within a 30 minute span on Monday during which 24 of the Breeder's Cup contenders, nearly one-fourth the field, worked both here and at Aqueduct. In addition a near steady deluge of rain last weekend and again Tuesday into Wednesday limited activity on several other mornings to little more than easy jogs or slow gallops over wet tracks.

The late arriving Europeans did most of their serious training on Thursday with six horses turning in timed workouts just 48 hours out from the main event.

Leo (Juvenile) was the most serious of the late workers, going a somewhat unconventional half mile from the five furlong to the eighth pole in company with trainer Christophe Clement's City Dweller in :47.72 seconds before pulling up fairly abruptly and galloping out in 1:01.37 to the wire.

Azamour (Turf) was the most impressive of the Euro-invaders to breeze or open gallop on the grass, going a half in company around the dogs in :54.25 with a final quarter in :25.03. Fellow BC Turf contender Bago was much more restrained through what was a basically a six furlong open gallop in 1:23.77.

"Mile candidate Valixir and Filly and Mare Turf longshot Karen's Caper both stretched their legs on the grass, Valixir breezing an easy five eighths in 1:05.40 and Karen's Caper a half in :53.24 with a final quarter in a very strong :24.56."

Defending Filly and Mare Turf champion Oujia Board had merely an easy gallop once around the soft course.

Favourable Terms, another Filly and Mare Turf candidate, had the morning's most unusual training session. Her first attempt to breeze five eighths on the grass was aborted suddenly near midstretch. After her rider conferred with the filly's connections, Favourable Terms began again this time completing six furlongs in 1:23.35 with a very respectable final quarter in :24.85.

Original Spin (Juvenile Fillies) blew out a sharp quarter mile through the stretch at the conclusion of her 1 1/2 mile gallop, flying through a final eighth down the home straight in a shade over :11.

Singletary looked awesome in his first appearance since arriving from southern California.

The following are some final thoughts about what I've seen or know about the contenders in this year's eight Breeders' Cup races.


Borrego has made a favorable impression all week with some strong gallops and a solid enough final prep in which he was not asked to do much other than to maintain his very sharp current form. Saint Liam completed an impressive five furlong work at Aqueduct on Monday with a final quarter of :22 and change, looks great but still must prove he can stay 10 furlongs. Rock Hard Ten did not arrive until late in the week after missing a couple of days of training last week at Santa Anita with a foot problem. Sun King is working well and should be coming up to a big effort but taking a big class jump against older rivals. Flower Alley ran into a little traffic in his final work, seemed a bit uncomfortable in tight quarters on the rail but galloped out strongly once in the clear.


Shakespeare, the top U.S. hope, tested a soft turf course for the first time on Monday and appeared to handle it well enough when finally set down by jockey Jerry Bailey through the stretch. Azamour looked real sharp over the still soggy going when allowed to really stretch his legs for the first time since his arrival in the U.S., reaching out nicely at the end of what was essentially a strong open gallop. Bago wasn't asked to do much over the course on Thursday but made a good appearance and is coming off a nice third place effort in the Arc de Triomphe. English Channel had a little trouble getting by his workmate in the final furlong of his final turf prep but galloped out well. Has never run a bad race but like Shakespeare getting a real class check against the Euro-invaders and defending champion Better Talk Now who prepped at Fair Hill.


Defending champ Ashado was well within herself throughout the final work of her great career and while a little stronger gallop out might have instilled a bit more confidence she's still the one they've got to beat. Happy Ticket has lost just twice in her career, to Madcap Escapade and Ashado, and looks to be holding that remarkable form extremely well after breezing a half in :46.88 over the deeper training track while in hand throughout. Stellar Jayne doesn't have the prettiest action and with Bailey up wasn't asked for too much in her final prep but looks well and in top form at the moment. In The Gold turned in a sharp five furlong final prep over a wet track and in peak form but taking a big class jump against older horses. Society Selection weakened noticeably at the end of a seven furlong work but did have a little equipment issue which may have impeded her action coming to the wire. Sweet Symphony struggled to outfinish a workmate while also unable to keep pace with 2-year-old filly Along The Sea through the final furlong of Monday's five-eighths prep.


Leroidesanimaux was not asked for much over the soft course in his final work but did finish well after an easy opening three eighths, the final time tempered somewhat by the fact he wore bar shoes in front which are not particularly conducive to smooth footing on the surface. The caveat is whether the sudden presence of a bar shoes or the tough post could be enough reason to look past this short priced favorite. Sand Springs figures to press Leroidesanimaux for the lead, especially after honing her speed with a relatively quick half mile breeze over the main track on Monday. Artie Schiller doing well as always. Host could be an interesting longshot off his final BC prep. Defending champ Singletary arrived late but looks great. Valixir turned in a nice open gallop on the grass Thursday and is one of several European threats in the Mile.


Anybody looking for a chink in Lost in the Fog's mighty armor would be hard pressed to find one after watching the unbeaten 3-year-old sensation train this week. Looks fit enough to win the Classic the way he has been completing his daily two mile gallops. Gygistar continued to show his affinity for the local surface with a brilliant final work in which he was well within himself to go a half in :47 and gallop out five eighths in :59.20. Wildcat Heir playing catch up after missing some training time. Comes into the Sprint off a very fast final prep but did have to be asked just a bit to finish and gallop out. Taste of Paradise did his major preparations in California but looked good upon his arrival in N.Y. Silver Train had a minor physical issue following a sharp final work at Aqueduct. Never saw Imperialism's reportedly fast final work in the dark but he could be a late threat to grab a share.


Wonder Again loves the soft turf and proved it with an eye catching final work in which she finished full of run. Riskaverse conversely was rank during the early stages of her last prep and as a result did not finish well. Wend did not look as comfortable over soft ground as Wonder Again when working over the same course Monday. Intercontinenal may be a sleeper after outworking her male stablemate Three Valleys but is a question mark at the distance. Favourable Terms finished well the second time around after her initial attempt to work was aborted at midstretch. Karen's Caper finished nicely in her first trip over the course. Defending champ Oujia Board did little more than canter on the grass upon her arrival from France while last year's runnerup Film Maker has trained at Fair Hill.


First Samurai is a strong, powerful 2-year-old who looks every part the Juvenile favorite. Hard to assess his final work over a sloppy course around the dogs but handled the difficult circumstances well and has since come back with several very sharp gallops. Will be asked to bounce back quickly off a hard race in the Champagne at a short price. Stevie Wonderboy on the other hand comes in fresh and training as well as anybody up to this event. Couldn't believe the stopwatch said :46.23 as easily as he appeared to be traveling when working a half mile on Monday. Superfly was nearly as impressive in his final prep although he didn't gallop out quite as strong as Stevie Wonderboy. Henny Hughes showed his usual high speed in his first work for new trainer Kiaran McLaughlin but coming out of same hard race as First Samurai and suspect to stay the route. Private Vow also had to negotiate the dogs and a very wet track during just a three furlong blowout but was moving well and appears to be coming up to another big effort. Dr. Pleasure is a grand looking looking youngster but didn't finish up quite as willingly as some of the others in his final work and parked out in a difficult post.


Adieu showed perhaps a little vulnerability in her final work when failing to change leads through the stretch and while lacking a real solid closing kick although she did gallop out well. Might be enough of an excuse for those wanting to look elsewhere if she's a small price as expected. Original Spin has had a great week. Turned in as good a work as anybody here when teamed up with jockey Jerry Bailey for the first time, throwing down a couple of :11 and change quarters through the stretch before galloping out very willingly. She also blew out like an express train on Thursday. Along the Sea could be coming up to her best yet with the addition of blinkers after pulling away from Distaff contender Sweep Symphony through the final furlong of a very impressive work in the new equipment. Never saw likely favorite Folklore or California invader Wild Fit both of whom trained up to the race out of town or Sensation's final prep which took place in the dark.