10/16/2008 12:00AM

Grand Couturier impresses with drill

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Grand Couturier, winner of the Sword Dancer Invitational and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, will ship to California on Tuesday for the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

ELMONT, N.Y. - On paper, Grand Couturier's half-mile breeze in 51.04 seconds over Belmont Park's inner turf course Wednesday morning in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Turf won't look like much. Visually, however, it may be as impressive a move as any horse will put in for the Breeders' Cup championships.

Forced to breeze about 20 feet off the rail due to the presence of traffic cones on the course to protect the part that is used for racing, Grand Couturier went his final quarter in 24.47 seconds under exercise rider Enrique Garcia. Then, Grand Couturier continued to gallop out strongly, going an additional half-mile in 51.89 seconds. In reality, the work could be considered a mile move in 1:42.93.

"The work is just a starting point," trainer Robert Ribaudo said back at his barn. "It's incredible. He even went further today down the backside then he normally does. After the wire, when the rider drops his hands, it's his cue to take off again."

The work came after Grand Couturier went 1 1/4 miles around the course the wrong way to warm up for the breeze.

Grand Couturier will enter the Breeders' Cup Turf off victories in the Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont. Both races were run over less-than-firm turf courses. But for those who doubt Grand Couturier's ability on firm ground, Ribaudo points to Grand Couturier's victory in last year's Sword Dancer where he beat eventual turf champion English Channel.

"That was as hard a turf course as you'll ever see," Ribaudo said. "The turf course at Santa Anita won't be anything like that turf course. From what everybody tells me, even though it looks like a carpet, there is a little bit of bounce to it, a little bit of give to it."

Wednesday's work was the only one Grand Couturier will have in the four weeks between the Joe Hirsch - a race he won by 10 1/4 lengths - and the BC Turf. Ribaudo said Grand Couturier gets so much out of his morning gallops that he doesn't need a lot of training. In fact, Grand Couturier often alternates days of jogging or galloping.

"He did this more for me than for him," Ribaudo said. "You felt like you needed to do something in four weeks. Everything he does, he does with energy. He's just a natural distance horse."

Ribaudo plans to ship Grand Couturier to Santa Anita next Tuesday. Alan Garcia, aboard for Grand Couturier's last two wins, will ride him in the Breeders' Cup.

No Breeders' Cup for Timber Reserve

Timber Reserve, third in the Meadowlands Cup, was not pre-entered in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Trainer John Kimmel said he may point the 2007 Pennsylvania Derby winner to the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 29 or the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, the previous day.

Kimmel said the Oct. 3 Meadowlands Cup, in which Timber Reserve finished third to Arson Squad after setting the early pace, took a bit of a toll on his 4-year-old colt.

"He was a little out of the feed tub for me to think we could ship and get an A-plus performance out of him," Kimmel said Wednesday. "He's back in the feed tub now, but he's never been like that. The race was pretty hard on him."

Schosberg has capable understudy

Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic would have been an ideal spot for trainer Richard Schosberg to run Giant Moon to end the colt's 3-year-old season. Unfortunately, Giant Moon has only recently resumed light training after foot problems sidelined him since his eighth-place finish in the Preakness in May.

But Schosberg may have a suitable backup in the 3-year-old That'srightofficer, who will meet older horses in the Empire Classic. That'srightofficer has won only twice from 11 starts, but he did finish a strong second to Tin Cup Chalice in the Albany Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 20. He disappointed as the 4-5 favorite in the off-the-turf Allied Forces on Sept. 13, following a pattern of good race, bad race. Schosberg senses That'srightofficer is ready for a good race.

"He runs his best race every other race," Schosberg said. "The last two races there wasn't any pace, and it really took him a little bit out of his game last time. He's best if he can lay back and make a run."

As a 3-year-old, That'srightofficer will get in at 114 pounds, seven less than top-weighted R Clear Victory. Others expected to run include Dr. D.F.C., Lorccan, Love Abroad, Raffie's Treasure, Spanky Fischbein, Stud Muffin, and Tommasi.

As for Giant Moon, Schosberg said that the colt has been galloping at owner Al Fried Jr.'s Bridlewood Farm and could be rejoining his stable in a few weeks.

The Empire Classic is the centerpiece of New York Showcase Day, which features seven stakes restricted to New York-breds, with purses totaling $1 million.

Ouchy Night out of Showcase Day

Ouchy Night, a good second in the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes last month, will be forced to miss Saturday's $100,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes for juvenile fillies due to a knee injury, trainer Tom Bush said.

"She's got a problem in her right knee," Bush said. "She's going to get some time off. I really think if I can get her straightened out in the gate she could be a super nice filly."

Ouchy Night, a daughter of Cactus Ridge, won her debut at Belmont by 4 1/2 lengths in June. She finished eighth in the Grade 3 Schuylerville before suffering narrow losses in two statebred stakes.

Bush will still be represented in the Maid of the Mist with Our Golden Dream, who won her debut on turf at Saratoga before finishing eighth in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo on turf.

"I'm pretty confident she can run on the dirt, too," Bush said.

Bush will have several runners on Saturday's card, including Banrock, the probable favorite in the $150,000 Ticonderoga for males on turf; Might Eros, third in her return off a 19-month layoff, in the $125,000 Iroquois for female sprinters; and Fiddler's Afleet, a recent 6 3/4-length maiden winner, in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for juvenile colts.