10/20/2007 12:00AM

Old Man Buck's preference changes

EmailTrainer Ken McPeek drilled his two Breeders' Cup-bound 2-year-olds, Old Man Buck and A to the Croft, together at Keeneland on Saturday morning, and said that he planned to start Old Man Buck in the Juvenile rather than the Juvenile Turf, which had been listed as his first preference.

Old Man Buck also will race with blinkers on for the first time, and will have a new rider on Saturday, with McPeek switching from Perry Ouzts, who had been aboard for Old Man Buck's last three starts, to Rafael Bejarano.

A to the Croft also may race in the Juvenile Fillies with blinkers on; McPeek said she would gallop in blinkers Monday and Tuesday, after which he'd make a decision.

Old Man Buck's only dirt start produced a distant sixth-place finish behind Juvenile-bound Kodiak Kowboy, but at 4 1/2 furlongs, that race was far too short for Old Man Buck, whose two wins have come on turf.

"I think he needs every bit of a mile and a sixteenth," McPeek said.

Old Man Buck and A to the Croft broke off head and head and stayed together throughout their Polytack breeze, according to McPeek. The pair worked in 59.80 seconds, and was timed galloping out six furlongs in about 1:12.60, McPeek said.

Old Man Buck is one of two top Juvenile Turf contenders now unlikely to start in the race, with the England-based Godolphin colt Ibn Khaldun expected to opt for the Racing Post Trophy Stakes at Doncaster rather than a trip to Monmouth.

The defections, if they hold, could allow two of the 11 horses on the Juvenile Turf also-eligible list into the race. Shore Do sits atop that list, but also is asured a spot in the Juvenile, with that race listed as his first preference. Behind Shore Do comes Your Round - who also breezed Saturday morning at Keeneland - and if Shore Do were to opt for the Juvenile, Globetrotter might also land a spot in the Juvenile Turf.

That would correct a situation that looks at least mildly unjust. Globetrotter is 2-for-2, and is one of the few horses in the Juvenile Turf to have won a graded stakes race. But that win came in the Grade 3 Grey at Woodbine, and Canadian graded stakes count for nothing in terms of Breeders' Cup qualifying points.

"I actually didn't realize the Canadian points didn't count," trainer Graham Motion said this week. "If he gets in, that'd be great. If not, we'd not lose too much sleep over it."

Juvenile will be Wicked Style's dirt debut

The unbeaten Wicked Style, completed his serious training for the Juvenile with a five-furlong work in 1:00.80 on Saturday at Keeneland for trainer Rusty Arnold.

Robby Albarado, who has ridden Wicked Style in all three of his races, was aboard for the drill.

Wicked Style was first and Old Man Buck third in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 6. Wicked Style previously won two races at Arlington, including the Arlington-Washington Futurity. All of his races have been on Polytrack. The BC Juvenile will be his first race on a conventional dirt surface.

Wicked Style is scheduled to fly from Kentucky to New Jersey on Wednesday.

Awesome Gem keeping a low profile

Tiago is viewed as a live longshot in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic following his win in last month's Goodwood Stakes, so what does that make Awesome Gem, who lost to Tiago by a nose?

"We're just flying under the radar," Craig Dollase, who trains Awesome Gem, said Saturday morning from his barn at Hollywood Park. "I like it that way."

Awesome Gem has finished second in three straight races, including the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, and on Saturday at Hollywood Park he completed his serious training for the BC Classic with a six-furlong drill in 1:12.80 on Cushion Track.

Dollase said Awesome Gem worked in company.

"He did everything right," Dollase said. "Finished up nicely, galloped out well."

Awesome Gem will be making his first start outside of California, but he has run well at all three Southern California tracks - Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita.

"He shows up every time," Dollase said.

Awesome Gem is scheduled to be flown to New Jersey on Wednesday.

Hystericalady works for Distaff

Hystericalady, winner of the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth Park in August, completed her preparations for Saturday's $2 million Distaff by working four furlongs in 48.80 seconds Saturday morning at Bay Meadows. The move, with regular rider Craig McGurn in the irons, was the fifth fastest of nine at the distance.

It was the first and only work Hystericalady will have between her second-place finish in the Lady's Secret on Oct. 7 and the Distaff.

"Since the race was so close I haven't had to be very hard on her," Hollendorfer said Saturday from Bay Meadows. "It was just a nice, easy breeze; she did it very much in hand."

Hollendorfer said he has been pleasantly surprised with how well Hystericalady came out of the Lady's Secret, in which she was beaten a nose by Tough Tiz's Sis.

"For as difficult as it was and as fast as they ran she came out very well," Hollendorfer said. "Better than expected."

Hystericalady will ship to Monmouth Park on Tuesday. Eddie Castro, aboard for her victory in the Lady's Secret, will be aboard for the Distaff.

Xchanger 'good to go' for Dirt Mile

Xchanger, one of nine projected starters and likely the only 3-year-old in the BC Dirt Mile, had his final pre-race work Saturday when breezing a bullet half-mile in 47.20 seconds over the Tapeta surface at the Fair Hill training center in northeastern Maryland. Regular exercise rider Anissa Butler was aboard the colt.

"He was well within himself," said trainer Mark Shuman. "He went a little faster than I wanted, but he's a good horse, he's fit, and we're good to go."

Xchanger is one of 11 pre-entries in Friday's BC Dirt Mile, but two horses, Commentator and 3-year-old Forefathers, have the BC Sprint as their first preference.

Shuman said Xchanger will ship to Monmouth after training Wednesday morning at Fair Hill.

* California-based Jockey Joe Talamo has picked up the mount on Lewis Michael for the Dirt Mile, according to Talamo's agent, Ron Ebanks.

Talamo has never ridden Lewis Michael, who finished fourth in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in his last start on Sept. 29.

New BC wagers this year

Advance wagering at Monmouth Park for the Friday and Saturday Breeders' Cup programs will begin on Thursday at noon, when wagering opens for all 11 Breeders' Cup races, three on Friday and eight on Saturday.

Several new wagers will be offered at this year's Breeders' Cup, including 10-cent superfectas on all 11 Breeders' Cup races, and wagers combining races on Friday and Saturday.

There are two daily doubles spread over two days, with one bet linking the Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday and the Sprint on Saturday, and another linking the Dirt Mile on Friday with the turf Mile on Saturday.

A $3 million-guaranteed pick six on Saturday will conclude with the Classic, and two pick fours on Saturday will carry $2omillion guarantees.

Monmouth will run 10 races on Friday and 11 on Sunday. First post Friday is 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, and first post Saturday is 11 a.m.

Monmouth will have a special four-day meet, beginning Wednesday. There will be a 50-cent pick five on the first five races all four days.

Oprah Winney on Oprah Winfrey

The New York-bred filly Oprah Winney, who is running in Friday's Filly and Mare Sprint, will be profiled on Tuesday's Oprah Winfrey talk show.

According to owner Michael Dubb, who purchased Oprah Winney after her second career start, the segment will include an interview with the woman who named the horse. That woman has a debilitating immune-system disease and, according to Dubb, named the horse Oprah Winney because she was inspired by Oprah Winfrey.

Also, Dubb said, 10 percent of any money Oprah Winney earns in the race will be donated to the Anna House, the daycare center on the property of Belmont Park that Dubb helped build.

Dubb said there has been a lot of interest in Oprah Winney to the point where a fan club has spawned. Information on the fan club can be obtained at www.oprahwinney.com

* Tasha's Miracle tuned up for the BC Juvenile Fillies by working six furlongs Saturday in 1:12, handily, at Santa Anita.

Tasha's Miracle, trained by John Sadler, won the Grade 3 Sorrento at Del Mar before finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf behind Cry and Catch Me and Izarra, two of her prospective Juvenile Fillies opponents. An overflow cast of 16 is pre-entered in the Juvenile Fillies.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen, David Grening, Marty McGee, and Jay Privman