09/28/2008 11:00PM

Frankel high on Vineyard Haven


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Bobby Frankel doesn't think Vineyard Haven got the credit he deserved for winning the Grade 1 Hopeful last month at Saratoga. Frankel said all he's heard after the race is how Cribnote would have won had he not blown the turn coming into the stretch.

"Everybody says he would have won, but who knows what [Vineyard Haven] would have done if Cribnote came to him?" Frankel said.

Perhaps we'll find out Saturday when Vineyard Haven and Cribnote are expected to meet again in the Grade 1, $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. The Champagne is a Win and You're In race for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Frankel isn't necessarily thinking about the Breeders' Cup, in large part because he would have to put up a $180,000 supplemental fee to run in that race because Vineyard Haven is not BC nominated.

Frankel, the majority owner of Vineyard Haven in a partnership that includes Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, believes the $750,000 Hollywood Futurity in December is a nice spot to aim for after the Champagne. Of course, Frankel is prone to changing his mind.

One thing Frankel firmly believes, however, is that Vineyard Haven is an extremely talented horse.

"I could be wrong, but I think this is a very good horse, I mean a very good horse," Frankel said. "He's got a chance at being a superstar."

Vineyard Haven, a son of Lido Palace, won his debut for owner/breeder/trainer Lynne Scace on June 28 at Calder. After watching the race the next day, Frankel wired the money to buy the horse by June 30.

"I loved him so much I wasn't going to hesitate," Frankel said. "I didn't even take X-rays. I said 'If he looks good and jogs good on the shank don't worry about it.'"

Vineyard Haven made his first start for Frankel in the Grade 2 Sanford on July 24, when he finished third to Desert Party. Frankel said he didn't have the horse fit for the race, and Vineyard Haven lost a shoe during the running of the race.

In the Hopeful, Vineyard Haven broke on top and kept right on going for a 2 1/4-length victory over Cribnote, who did blow the turn in the stretch before re-rallying to get second.

On Monday, Vineyard Haven worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.45 seconds under Angel Cordero Jr. Belmont clockers timed him in splits of 11.75 seconds, 23.00, and 34.46. Clockers caught him galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.20.

"I thought he finished good on a deep track," Cordero said. "I thought he might have slowed down a little bit because his middle fraction was quicker than it was supposed to be. I loved his work."

Said Frankel: "The thing is he galloped out decently, he didn't shut it down. If he can't handle that, maybe he's not as good as I think he is."

Also pointing to the Champagne are A.P. Cardinal, Break Water Edison, Girolamo, Gone Astray, Hello Broadway, Munnings, and Ventana.

Ginger Punch a go for Ladies' Classic

Despite suffering her first defeat in five races, Ginger Punch will shoot for a repeat in the $2 million Breeders Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 24, Frankel said. Ginger Punch finished second, beaten a half-length by Cocoa Beach in Saturday's Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame.

Though Frankel said the undefeated Zenyatta "is a monster" he doesn't think Ginger Punch has anything to lose by running in what will likely be the final race of her career.

"I think we're going to go," said Frankel, who expects to ship Ginger Punch to California next week. "She's got her reputation already; there's no pressure."

Cocoa Beach, who earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for her victory, is possible for the Ladies' Classic, assistant trainer Rick Mettee said. It would cost Sheikh Mohammed al -Maktoum a $180,000 supplemental fee, and he already has Music Note for the race, but Mettee said the Ladies' Classic would give Maktoum an idea of what to do with the filly next year.

Lemon Drop Mom, third in the Beldame, will not run in the Breeders' Cup. Trainer Tim Ritchey said Lemon Drop Mom hit herself in the left foreleg and though she is not seriously hurt, she will get 60 to 90 days off and be pointed for a 2008 campaign.

Fabulous Strike hopes to make Sprint field

Fabulous Strike, beaten a head by Black Seventeen in the Grade 1 Vosburgh after injuring his hoof, had less damage to his left front foot than expected, and his connections still hope to make the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Fabulous Strike's left front shoe came out of alignment in the paddock and could not be reset properly for the race. Still, he ran gamely, setting the early pace while being hounded by J Be K and First Defence. He put those two away, but could not hold off Black Seventeen late.

Speaking from Penn National, trainer Todd Beattie said he used some patch material to rebuild part of the hoof enough to where Fabulous Strike could get a new shoe put on Monday. Beattie said Fabulous Strike was to ship to Presque Isle Downs on Tuesday and return to training Wednesday. With one minor stakes win and a second in the Vosburgh this year, Fabulous Strike would need to be chosen by the selection committee to get into the Sprint field in the event it overfills.

"I sure hope we get the opportunity to run there," Beattie said.

Black Seventeen was to have shipped back to the Santa Anita barn of his trainer Brian Koriner on Tuesday. Koriner said that provided Black Seventeen continues to train well over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface, he would run in the Sprint.

Lucky Island, who finished sixth in the Vosburgh as the favorite, will not run in the Sprint, said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who added that his horse would get a break.

Clement seeks firmer turf for Mauralakana

Disappointed but not dismayed by Mauralakana's second-place finish to Dynaforce in the Flower Bowl, trainer Christophe Clement said he is looking forward to running his mare on firm ground in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

"On that ground, the winner was the best horse," Clement said of Dynaforce, who beat Mauralakana by four lengths over yielding turf. "I think [Mauralakana] might be a better horse on firm turf. She could not sustain her move on softer ground."

Velazquez wins 4,000th

After winning two Grade 1 stakes Saturday at Santa Anita, jockey John Velazquez reached a milestone victory in a $25,000 claiming race Sunday at Belmont. Velazquez earned his 4,000th career victory when he guided Rogue Agent to a six-length win in Sunday's opener at Belmont.

Velazquez, 36, became the 53rd jockey to reach the 4,000-win plateau.

"This was probably the hardest 10 winners of my career," said Velazquez, who reached career win 3,990 on Sept. 1. "It feels great to put it behind me and move on to other things. As you get closer to a big number, it seems harder and harder to get there. I had a great weekend and rode some really nice horses. Every one of my wins was memorable to me. Every one counts to get to 4,000."

Velazquez added 4,001 when he took Sunday's second race aboard Be Glorious.