11/25/2009 1:00AM

Munnings appears unlikely for Cigar

Email

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - While a decision on Quality Road's status for Saturday's $300,000 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile at Aqueduct was not going to be made until at least Wednesday, his stablemate Munnings will most likely miss the Grade 1 race due to a foot problem.

Todd Pletcher, who trains both horses, said Tuesday that Munnings has a "foot issue" that has prevented him from being able to get a final workout in before Saturday's one-mile race. Pletcher said that if Munnings was not able to breeze Wednesday - and he was not optimistic about getting the workout in - then Munnings will not run. Instead, the talented 3-year-old sprinter would likely be pointed to a 4-year-old campaign that would begin in sprint races at Gulfstream Park.

Meanwhile, Pletcher said he wanted to wait until after Quality Road returned to the track on Wednesday and had another gate-schooling session at Belmont before discussing Quality Road's status with owner Ed Evans and farm manager Chris Baker.

"I haven't seen anything since this horse came back that would say we can't run," Pletcher said Tuesday. "But I've never been in position where I've had to factor in a 3,000-mile van ride either."

Quality Road was scratched from the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 after becoming unruly at the gate and cutting himself on a leg that required stitches. After balking at getting on a plane on Nov. 9, Quality Road was vanned cross-country with a two-day layover at Churchill Downs. Quality Road had a successful gate-schooling session at Aqueduct on Saturday and breezed an easy half-mile in 50.88 seconds on Monday at Belmont. Typically, Pletcher breezes his horses five furlongs six days out from a race.

"I don't think he needed it," Pletcher said of an extended workout. "He was fit to go a mile and a quarter. The last thing I wanted to do after a long trip like that was knock him out any."

Pyro confirmed for Cigar

While Munnings is likely out of the Cigar Mile, the Grade 1 winner Pyro was confirmed as a starter for the race on Tuesday by Godolphin assistant trainer Rick Mettee. Pyro, who won the Forego at Saratoga, will be making the final start of his career in the Cigar.

Pyro is coming off a last-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, confirming yet again his disdain for synthetic surfaces. His three starts on synthetic surfaces - and the Kentucky Derby - were the only times he finished worse than third in 16 career starts.

"Johnny [Velazquez] said he never showed a lot of interest," Mettee said regarding the Dirt Mile. "Heading up the backstretch, he really wasn't putting out for him."

On Sunday, Pyro worked a strong five furlongs in 1:00.02 over Belmont Park's main track with Richard Migliore in the irons. Migliore will ride Pyro, who at 120 pounds is the co-highweight in the Cigar with multiple Grade 1 winner Kodiak Kowboy (Shaun Bridgmohan). Pyro will be coupled in the wagering with Vineyard Haven (Alan Garcia), a 3-year-old who will carry 118 pounds.

Bribon (Rajiv Maragh, 119 pounds) and Driven by Success (Ramon Dominguez, 118) are the other confirmed starters.

Justwhistledixie back in Top Flight

Justwhistledixie, unraced since finishing second in the Grade 1 Acorn on June 6, will return to the races in Friday's Grade 2, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap. The Top Flight will mark Justwhistledixie's first start for her new trainer, Bill Mott.

Mott took over the training of Justwhistledixie after her previous trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, and the West Point Stable, part-owner of the filly, split in September. Under McLaughlin's tutelage, Justwhistledixie won 5 of 8 starts, including the Grade 3 Davona Dale and Grade 2 Bonnie Miss last March at Gulfstream Park.

Justwhistledixie missed the Kentucky Oaks due to a bruised foot. Following the Acorn, she was being pointed to the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga but missed that race after suffering minor injuries while getting cast in her stall. She was off the work tab for two months. Justwhistledixie has breezed six times since Sept. 30 for Mott.

"She doesn't really wow you in the morning," Mott said Wednesday from Florida. "Her works have been useful without wowing you. But they've been good and steady. Our understanding is that's how she worked before."

Justwhistledixie will be ridden by Jose Lezcano under 117 pounds. The top weight is fellow 3-year-old Sara Louise, who was assigned 118 pounds and will be ridden by Edgar Prado. Others expected to run, with known riders, include Porte Bonheur (Channing Hill, 116), Spritely (Velazquez, 116), Skylighter (Ramon Dominguez, 115), Cuvee Uncorked (114), and Granted Tiger (112). Weathered (112) is a possibility.

Citrus Kid staying home for Remsen

After receiving the stakes-winning 2-year-old Citrus Kid following a private purchase, trainer John Terranova was torn between keeping him home to run in Saturday's Remsen or shipping to Churchill Downs to run in the Kentucky Jockey Club. In the end, Terranova decided there's no place like home. Thus, Citrus Kid will take on Champagne winner Homeboykris and Nashua victor Buddy's Saint in the Grade 2, $200,000 Remsen.

"This is a better spot for him, it's a mile and an eighth, it's a track that he knows already," said Terranova, noting that Citrus Kid trained at Aqueduct when in the barn of trainer Gary Contessa. "I think he'll really love the mile and an eighth; the further the better. He's still a colt that's developing. He's got a lot of room to go forward."

For Contessa, Cirtus Kid won 2 of 3 starts, including the Dover Stakes on Oct. 16 by five lengths at 1 1/16 miles at Delaware Park. Following that race, he was purchased privately by a group that included Gary Tolchin, James Cavello, and bloodstock agent Nick Sallusto.

On Monday, Citrus Kid breezed four furlongs in 49.12 seconds over Belmont's training track.

"He looks great, he's feeling really well," Terranova said.

On Tuesday, Homeboykris worked four furlongs in 48.57 seconds over Aqueduct's main track.

Others possible for the Remsen include Grand Rapport, Peppi Knows, Fudge Truffle, and Turf Melody.

Negligee gets rest; 'Franny' to Calif.

Terranova said that Negligee, the Grade 1 Alcibiades winner, would not run again this year and would soon be shipped to south Florida to begin gearing up for a 3-year-old campaign.

Meanwhile, Terranova shipped his other stakes-winning 2-year-old filly Franny Freud to Southern California on Tuesday, where she will be pointed to the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 16. Trainer Bob Baffert will oversee Franny Freud's training in California, though the filly will run in Terranova's name. For years, Terranova and his wife Tonja have overseen the training of Baffert's horses when they are stabled in New York.

Franny Freud is coming off a five-length victory in the Fifth Avenue Division of the New York Stallion Stakes here Nov. 15. Though she has won three races on dirt, she appears to be faster on synthetic surfaces as she proved when she defeated Negligee in the Ontario Debutante at Woodbine in August. The Santa Ynez is run over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.

"She ran with real fillies up in Canada and her numbers even show it," Terranova said. "It looked like California was the right move to go with her at this point. She came back great out of the Stallion Stakes."