10/06/2009 11:00PM

To prep or not to prep is the question


Richard's Kid, Einstein, Rail Trip, Parading, and Colonel John were the first five across the wire in last month's Pacific Classic at Del Mar, and all are still in the running for the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. But their final preparation will differ greatly, with two of the horses - Einstein and Rail Trip - being brought to the Classic without a race in between.

In contrast, Richard's Kid, Parading, and Colonel John - along with Mine That Bird and Tiago - were among those scheduled to run in the Grade 1, $350,000 Goodwood Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita. The winner of the Goodwood receives an automatic berth to the Classic through the Win and You're In program.

Colonel John had a dreadful trip in the Goodwood, finishing fifth after encountering severe traffic trouble on the final turn. The Goodwood is a significant race for him, because it will be only his third start of the year, and he needs a strong prep. He is fresh, which, after the setbacks of earlier this year, may prove beneficial.

"We don't have a crystal ball to say how knocked out or not knocked out he would have been had he raced all year, but the needle certainly isn't in the red zone," Eoin Harty, who trains Colonel John, said Wednesday morning. "He's doing super, training super. There's no reason to think he's not going to run his race. It was very unfortunate what happened at Del Mar."

Tiago is also hoping to use the Goodwood as a critical springboard to the Classic following an abbreviated 2009 campaign. Though third in last year's Classic, he has raced just twice since then, and only once since February. He was sixth and last in the Brubaker Stakes in his turf debut at Del Mar last time out.

"I don't chalk it up to him not liking the turf," said Tiago's trainer, John Shirreffs. "I chalk it up to him running off down the backside."

Einstein and Rail Trip have had aggressive campaigns this year, and that is why they are skipping this last round of preps and will head into the Classic off a two-month rest. Einstein won the Santa Anita Handicap earlier in the year. He currently is at Churchill Downs, but will head to Santa Anita about 10 days before the Classic, trainer Helen Pitts said.

Rail Trip won the Hollywood Gold Cup, then trained up to the Pacific Classic. Ron Ellis, his trainer, said the strategy mapped out between himself and owners Mace and Samantha Siegel after the Gold Cup was to run in the Pacific Classic or the Goodwood, but not both, before the BC Classic.

"He's done a lot this year," Ellis said Wednesday. "Skipping the Goodwood was the lesser of two evils. To try and jam in another race would have been too much. Being as the Pacific Classic was a $1 million race, I think it made more sense to go in that race."