08/26/2009 11:00PM

Fever sidelines Midships

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Benoit & Associates
Argentine import Skyrush (right) rallies from fifth to capture the Harry Brubaker.

DEL MAR, Calif. -

Humberto Ascanio, assistant trainer to Bobby Frankel, said that Midships spiked a 102-degree fever and had a presence of mucus on Thursday when entries were taken.

"I can't run him with a temperature," Ascanio said.

Midships was scheduled to undergo a blood test on Thursday to determine how to treat his illness, Ascanio said. It is likely that the 4-year-old will not start again until the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, which begins on Sept. 30.

Ascanio wanted to run Midships after the colt worked six furlongs in 1:12 on the main track on Monday.

"He worked so good," he said.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Midships has won 5 of 16 starts and $527,975. Earlier this year, he won the Grade 2 San Luis Rey, Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano, and Grade 1 Charles Whittingham handicaps. He was ninth in the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park last month.

The absence of Midships will significantly affect the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, which is run over 1 3/8 miles on turf. Without him, Black Astor, the upset winner of the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on July 19, may have an uncontested lead.

Trained by Lisa Lewis, Black Astor returned from a six-month layoff to win the Sunset Handicap by two lengths.

"We had a perfect setup in the last race," she said. "We'll see in a bigger field how he does with the pace scenario."

The Del Mar Handicap drew a field of 12, but the race will have a safety limit of 10 starters.

"I think the race sets up well for him," Lewis said. "He had been training really well, and he's still doing well.

"He looks like he's matured into what he's supposed to be. He's got more weight on him and he's not as gawky. He's still a little high-strung, but that's him."

Lewis wants to see a win from Black Astor on Saturday before entertaining any thoughts of running in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, a race expected to draw international participation.

"If he can put those races back to back, he's got a chance to be one of the better marathon turf horses," Lewis said.

Skyrush may get shot at Oak Tree Mile

The chances of Skyrush were greatly underestimated in Wednesday's $89,930 Harry Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar, especially by his trainer, Darrell Vienna.

"I didn't think he was good enough, but I've been disappointed in so many first-time starters," Vienna said in the winner's circle.

The Argentine import made his U.S. debut in the Brubaker, and rallied from fifth in a field of six to win by a neck over 13-1 Racketeer. Skyrush ($25.20) ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:40.77 under jockey Martin Pedroza.

"He ran like he was possessed," Vienna said on Thursday morning.

The win has left Vienna considering the $150,000 Oak Tree Mile on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 10 though he stopped short of committing to that race on Thursday.

Owned by Herrick Racing, Skyrush was part of a group of horses Vienna acquired from Argentina earlier this year. A winner of 4 of 8 starts and $98,262, Skyrush, 4, had not started since finishing third in a Group 3 race in Argentina in April. The Brubaker was his first stakes win.

The win came at the expense of Tiago, the third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Classic last fall at Santa Anita. Tiago was making his first start since a third-place finish in the San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in April, a layoff caused largely by illness.

Tiago finished last of six, but was as close as third on the backstretch after jockey Mike Smith moved him to the outside to avoid clipping heels. Thursday, trainer John Shirreffs said that Tiago remains a candidate for the $350,000 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 10, a race in which he was second last year.

"I'm sure he got a lot out of the race," Shirreffs said.

Global Hunter opts for Pacific Classic

Global Hunter, the winner of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on turf on July 25 and the third-place finisher in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes for sprinters on Aug. 8, will start in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Sept. 6, trainer A.C. Avila said on Thursday.

Avila said Saturday's Del Mar Mile on turf and the Grade 1 Pat O'Brien Stakes for sprinters on Sept. 6 were considered, but that co-owner Shawn Turner insisted on a try in the Pacific Classic.

Avila said Global Hunter did not start in the Del Mar Mile because he was not nominated for the Breeders' Cup program and would have been running for only $200,000 of the $300,000 purse.

Global Hunter's presence brings the number of Pacific Classic probables to 11. The race is led by Einstein, the winner of the Santa Anita Handicap, and Rail Trip, the winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup.