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Premium Tap's year not done?
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - John Kimmel is quite pleased with how Premium Tap came out of his third-place finish in last weekend's Breeders' Cup Classic, but the trainer has not yet decided whether to run the horse again this year or point to a 2007 campaign.
Kimmel said he has kept Premium Tap eligible to the Grade 1, $500,000 Clark Handicap to be run at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24 and also plans to nominate him to the Grade 1, $300,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, which is run the following day. Kimmel said if Premium Tap were to run again in 2006, the Clark is the more likely spot because "it's for more money."
"We'll see," Kimmel said Friday from Florida. "I'm certainly not committing to anything. I've never seen too many horses that ran well in the Breeders' Cup run very well after that."
Kimmel said if he opts not to run Premium Tap again this year, he would most likely send him to Payson Park, a training center in Florida, to gear up for a 2007 campaign that could begin in the Hal's Hope at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 6. The Hal's Hope could be a prelude to the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 3 and then, perhaps, the $6omillion Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba on March 31.
Kimmel said it was no surprise to him that Premium Tap, who won the Woodward at odds of 31-1, ran well in the Classic.
"I've always liked him," Kimmel said. "I think he was one of the few horses anywhere close to a legitimate pace that finished with any enthusiasm. In hindsight, Edgar [Prado] could have sat a little bit on him or taken him back a little bit further, but you certainly can't criticize the ride. He got beat by two champions in their respective divisions."
Despite Premium Tap's third-place finish, Kimmel didn't think the horse ran his best race.
"I don't think he ran his 'A' race - he can do better," Kimmel said. "He stumbled a little at the start, and I don't know that he was that crazy about the track."
Premium Tap is back at Kimmel's Belmont Park barn and was scheduled to return to training for the first time on Saturday morning.
"He needs to go back to the track before he kills somebody," Kimmel said.
Ouija Board making stop at Belmont
Ouija Board, who won her second Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in three years, was scheduled to make a short stop at Belmont Park over the weekend before shipping back to England on Sunday.
Ouija Board was scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park from Churchill Downs during the late afternoon hours Friday. She was scheduled to train over Belmont's main track Saturday morning before flying back to England on Sunday.
Ouija Board is scheduled to run two more times this year before being retired and bred early next year. Ouija's Board remaining two races are the Japan Cup and the Hong Kong Vase.
G City Gal heads Sunday feature
Provided that showers don't wash out Sunday's card as forecast, the day's feature will be the $65,000 Top Secret Stakes, a six-furlong heat for 3-year-old fillies that have not won an open stakes race in 2006.
G City Gal, trained by Todd Pletcher, is strictly the one to beat in this five-horse field. A daughter of Elusive Quality, G City Gal has finished second or third in five consecutive stakes. She may have run her best race in last month's Grade 3 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup at Laurel Park, where she made the lead at the quarter pole but was defeated by three-quarters of a length by Wild Gams. Wildcat Bettie B, a Grade 1 winner, finished a head in front of GoCity Gal.
G City Gal came back with a best-of-62 half-mile breeze in 48 seconds on Monday at Belmont and will break from post 4 under Edgar Prado.
G City Gal figures to stalk a contested pace between Any Limit and May Day Vow. G City Gal finished a decent second in her only start on an off track.
Any Limit is the 123-pound highweight, coming off a front-running victory against only two rivals in the restricted My Flag Stakes here on Oct. 26.
Sir Greeley, Afrashad eye Fall Highweight
Sir Greeley and Afrashad, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, in the Gradeo3 Sport Page Handicap, are likely to meet again in the $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap on Thanksgiving Day, their connections said.
After stumbling badly at the start, Sir Greeley rallied to just run down Afrashad for second behind Silver Wagon in what was Sir Greeley's first start since running sixth in the Metropolitan Handicap on Memorial Day.
Jimmy Jerkens, the trainer of Sir Greeley, said he was pleasantly surprised the horse did not come back with any physical issues.
"I thought for sure he'd rip his foot off," Jerkens said.
Jerkens said he likely wouldn't run Sir Greeley back in the $300,000 Cigar Mile on Nov. 25 because the race is coming up too tough.
The undefeated Discreet Cat will be the favorite in the Cigar Mile. He is a stablemate of Afrashad, who was part of a strong pace in the Sport Page before tiring in the final furlong.
"If he was coming off a peak race I probably wouldn't run him back," said Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin's New York runners. "But even in a race that doesn't set up for him going six furlongs, he's still going to run."
Mettee said the Sport Page didn't set up for Afrashad after Blazing Purrsuit stumbled at the start and ran off, and Bishop Court Hill and Kazoo put pressure on Afrashad early.
"He put all the pacemakers away, but he just didn't have anything left for the closers," Mettee said.
Expensive buy Ever Shifting near debut
Before there was The Green Monkey, there was Ever Shifting.
When The Green Monkey sold for a record $16 million at Fasig-Tipton's select 2-year-olds-in-training sale earlier this year, he smashed the previous mark of $5.2 million for a 2-year-olds-in-training auction. That previous record-holder was Ever Shifting, a son of Tale of the Cat, purchased by Godolphin Racing in 2005.
Initially training under the Godolphin banner, Ever Shifting has been transferred to Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable and put under the care of trainer Tom Albertrani.
Ever Shifting has been credited with four workouts since Oct. 17, including a five-furlong move in 1:00.84 on Monday at Belmont Park.
"It's too soon" to know what kind of horse he is, Albertrani said. Albertrani added he is hopeful that Ever Shifting could make his debut by the end of this year.
Last year, when in the care of Mettee, Ever Shifting breezed three times before Mettee had to stop on him in late June.
Velazquez begins three-day suspension
Jockey John Velazquez will begin serving a three-day riding suspension on Sunday for an infraction that occurred at Del Mar on July 22. Velazquez must serve three racing days, and thus will not be able to return to action until Friday.
He was given the suspension by the Del Mar stewards for an infraction that occurred in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap, in which Velazquez rode Fourty Niners Son. That horse was disqualified from fourth and placed fifth. In a racing rarity, one of the Del Mar stewards, Scott Chaney, disagreed with the call, and the word "dissented" appeared parenthetically next to his name on the ruling. Chaney said he agreed with the disqualification, but added he didn't think Velazquez deserved days.