Updated on 09/15/2011 1:56PM

Mayakovsky hitting on all cylinders


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Most horses need some time and some experience or seasoning to learn their job. Mayakovsky, a quick study, had it figured out before he made his first start. When he debuted here on opening day last month, he won smartly and set a track record of 1:03.32 for 5 1/2 furlongs, surprising few after training sensationally on the West Coast.

Judging by his preparation since that sharp performance, he continues to progress and looks very much the one to beat in Saturday's $200,000 Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs. Virtually all his morning works have been notable, and clockers were particularly impressed last week when he breezed six furlongs in 1:12, with every furlong in 12 seconds. His trainer, Patrick Louis Biancone, addressed the stamina of the Matty G colt and later pronounced him ready for the Hopeful.

"I've travelled extensively," Biancone said at the barn, "and I believe Saratoga is the best place in the world to train a horse. Mayakovsky appears to have benefited considerably from his time here and should run well. Of course, the Hopeful is a Grade 1 race and no Grade 1 has ever been easy."

Biancone knows a good horse when he sees one. He trained one of the best of our time in the filly All Along, who beat the finest male horses in Europe in the Arc de Triomphe of 1983. Two weeks later, All Along was in Toronto to beat the males again in the Rothman International. Two weeks after that, All Along was in New York to beat male grass stars in the Turf Classic. Two weeks later, All Along was at Laurel in Maryland to beat males in the Washington D. C. International. Her brilliant visit to the U.S. earned her Horse of the Year honors in this country. England's Michael Tabor, whose Thunder Gulch won the 1995 Kentucky Derby and who is a partner in the ownership of the remarkable and undefeated European 3-year-old, Galileo, acquired Mayakovsky at the Ocala Breeders sale for $210,000 and appears to have a celebrated bargain. A good effort in the Hopeful will earn Mayakovsky a shot at Belmont Park's $500,000 Champagne Stakes on Oct. 6, and the Champagne, in turn, is expected to serve as a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Speaking of Tabor, he has a chance for another memorable afternoon Saturday. His Left Bank is one of the leading prospects for the Grade 1, $250,000 Forego Stakes at seven furlongs, which is a secondary feature on the attractive card highlighted by the Hopeful. Left Bank, a 4-year-old colt by French Deputy who was purchased for $600,000, won six of 10 start last year and was regarded as a top sprinter. He had trouble handling a muddy track for the Metropolitan Mile, but was freshened by trainer Todd Pletcher and responded with an outstanding race here three weeks ago. Left Bank won the six-furlong dash by almost eight lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 114.

New York planning gala Cup weekend

Extensive plans have been drawn up by New York Racing Association officials to make Breeders' Cup weekend of Oct. 26, 27, and 28 at Belmont Park a special occasion.

On Friday, four stakes will be offered, designed to attracted overseas horses shipped here for the Breeders' Cup but unable to participate. An all-star group of leading race-callers from tracks throughout the country will each call one race on the 10-race program. The casts of several Broadway shows are also scheduled to attend and give a brief presentation on the apron of the track, a summary of their show's highlights as Broadway salutes the Breeders' Cup.

Saturday's opening ceremonies are set for 11 a.m. Jockeys riding in the Breeders' Cup will come out in colors and assemble on the apron in front of the stands, carrying flags of the countries involved in the Cup. Buglers from tracks represented by Breeders' Cup horses will also perform. The first race is scheduled for noon, and NBC will begin its five hours of live coverage at 1 p.m.

Other highlights will be presented Sunday, and the card will offer two stakes, with overseas participation expected for these events.