10/06/2008 11:00PM

McLaughlin's Cup hopes take a hit

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - When it comes to this year's Breeders' Cup, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin may be in need of an equine stimulus package.

On Monday, McLaughlin said that two of his main hopes for Breeders' Cup races would not make the event: Charitable Man, among the favorites for the $2 million Juvenile, is out for the year due to a saucer fracture in his left shin. Abraaj, a multiple-stakes-winning sprinter, is sidelined after being diagnosed with a chip in his left front ankle.

This news comes after McLaughlin spent the last two weekends watching his juvenile colts Regal Ransom, Majestic Blue and Girolamo disappoint in graded stakes.

McLaughlin's two best Breeders' Cup hopes are Shakis, who could run in the BC Mile after finishing second in the Shadwell Mile, and Habaya, a 2-year-old filly who is running in Thursday's JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland in hopes of earning a berth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Shakis could skip the BC Mile and point to the Grade 1 Citation at Hollywood Park in November.

Charitable Man, owned by William Warren, won his first two starts, including the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 13. On Sept. 30, he breezed a half-mile in 48.23 seconds over Belmont's training track. The day after he breezed, McLaughlin noticed something was wrong. Charitable Man has been shipped to Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky., where Dr. Larry Bramlage was to insert a screw to repair the fracture.

"Hopefully, he's only away 45 to 60 days,'' McLaughlin said. "It's not a long time. It's just bad timing. Hopefully, we'll bring him back at the first of the year and he can make the Triple Crown trail one way or the other.''

After disappointing efforts by Regal Ransom in the Norfolk, Majestic Blue in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, and Girolamo in the Champagne, they were removed from BC Juvenile consideration. Plans for those three Darley Stable-owned colts have not yet been finalized.

Abraaj, winner of the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 26, will have surgery to remove the chip from his ankle "in hopes of bringing him back next year for racing,'' McLaughlin said.

Abraaj is owned by Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Stable, which also owns the graded stakes winner Lucky Island, who is being freshened for a return to racing perhaps later this year.

Lieutenant Ron to try going longer

There was some good news emanating from the McLaughlin barn as Lieutenant Ron, a 3-year-old whom he has been extremely high on, won a second-level allowance race Sunday by 8 3/4 lengths in the slop. He ran seven furlongs in 1:23.02 and earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Lieutenant Ron, a son of Graeme Hall, is now 3 for 4 in his career. McLaughlin said he would consider stretching the colt out in distance in the Grade 3, $100,000 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 22. The Discovery is run around two turns at 1 1/8 miles. McLaughlin said the Grade 1, $300,000 Cigar Mile a week later is also possible.

"It was a confidence boost for us and the horse,'' McLaughlin said. "We need to figure out what we're going to do now. The Discovery is a possibility. We think he wants to go further.''

Vineyard Haven may wait until 2009

Bobby Frankel, majority owner and trainer of Champagne winner Vineyard Haven, said he has not changed his mind about skipping the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He is, however, leaning toward not running the colt again until next year while possibly keeping him on the East Coast.

Frankel has several reasons for skipping the Juvenile. First, he and owners Joe Torre, the Los Angeles Dodgers manager, and Louis Lazzinnaro, would have to pay a $180,000 supplemental fee. Second, the race is being run over a synthetic surface. Third, the Juvenile is in three weeks.

Frankel, who has shipped several horses from New York to Southern California already, is leaving Vineyard Haven at Belmont Park while he contemplates where to run the colt as a 3-year-old.

"He's trained so good on the East Coast's sand racetracks, he's been 100 percent [sound], knock wood,'' Frankel said Monday from California. "I'm not sure whether I'll keep him in Florida or take him to California.''

Frankel believes Vineyard Haven got sufficient seasoning as a 2-year-old and he hopes to bring him back to the races in February or March to begin a run at the Kentucky Derby.

"I'm very excited,'' Frankel said. "Joe Torre and Louis, to get to the Derby for them I know that's what they're dreaming about.''

Vineyard Haven became just the ninth horse to win the Hopeful and Champagne. Vineyard Haven became just the 10th horse to win the Hopeful and Champagne. The last to do it was First Samurai in 2005.

Sky Diva aims for Juvenile Fillies

Trainer Steve Klesaris said Sky Diva came out of her 3 3/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Frizette in "great order'' and will be pointed to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 24.

Klesaris said that he would most likely ship Sky Diva from his Maryland base to California as late as possible.

"My initial feeling is to go later than sooner," Klesaris said. "They've had significant heat out there. As late as early last week it was well into the 90s.''

Klesaris said what impresses him most about Sky Diva is that while she's built like a distance filly, "she has the agility of a sprinter. Those two things right there make for a tremendous horse.''

When Klesaris was informed that Charitable Man was out of the Juvenile, he said that Forty Thieves would likely start in that race. Forty Thieves, a son of Read the Footnotes, has won a pair of sprint races by a combined 13 1/4 lengths for Klesaris and owner Jeffrey Puglisi.

Dancing Tin Man tries again

Dancing Tin Man may have finally found the right field to handle in Wednesday's $53,000 starter allowance, the featured event on Belmont's nine-race card. The 1 1/16-mile turf race is for horses that have started for a claiming price of $50,000 or less.

Dancing Tin Man won a $35,000 claimer at Belmont in May, and has two fourth-place finishes and two seconds in this condition since. Dancing Tin Man ran second to Big Jerome last out. Big Jerome has 2 wins and 3 seconds from his last 5 starts.

Trainer David Donk said Dancing Tin Man will appreciate the give in the turf course, but added he feels the horse is better going two turns. This race is run around one turn.

Miracle Hill, a winner of a $35,000 claiming event in July off a 13-month layoff, returns off a two-month freshening here for trainer Chad Brown.