11/05/2008 12:00AM

Questions raised by the Breeders' Cup


PHOENIX - The mainstream horseracing media has focused rightly on the significance of the main track surface for this year's Breeders' Cup and the ramifications of the success of the Europeans. But other items may have been lost in the shuffle. Such as:

* What happens now with the CashCall Futurity next month at Hollywood Park?

Vineyard Haven skipped the Breeders' Cup and is resting on his laurels until 2009 before cranking up for a run at the Kentucky Derby. Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman may go to Dubai for the winter. Runner-up Square Eddie is reportedly done this year, though his owner, J. Paul Reddam, is the owner of CashCall, the sponsor of the Futurity. BC Juvenile third Street Hero could still have a go. Believe in Hope, third in the Grade 1 Norfolk, missed the Juvenile with an illness so his status for what is often a benchmark race for 2-year-olds remains in limbo.

* Daytona surged to the lead turning for home in the BC Mile like he was going to be a big player in the seventh and eighth furlongs, and then faded to finish 10th of 11. Surely he wasn't going to defeat eventual winner Goldikova with a headstart, but the severity of his brake job was disturbing. It turns out we now know why - he bled. Trainer Dan Hendricks said it was significant, and that he'll give his turf star plenty of time to recover. Despite that, the fireplug chestnut had a helluva year, winning three graded stakes.

* I'm curious as to why the diehard Curlinites groan how this year's BC Classic should have no championship implications since it was run on synthetic footing, which may have favored some runners over others, but have no problem giving last year's Classic every bit of legitimacy despite it being run on a terribly sloppy track that certainly favored some runners over others.

And for a horse who couldn't handle the track, Curlin sure seemed to handle it pretty well on the far turn when he circled the field. (I'm unbiased in this regard; I'm still voting for Curlin for Horse of the Year.)

* Reports of the decline of Bob Baffert barn are obviously premature. Baffert, who has already carved his niche in the game, gave everyone a reminder of his tremendous horsemanship by getting Midnight Lute to run the way he did in winning the BC Sprint off one race in 11 months. This ranks alongside Michael Dickinson's work with Da Hoss and Ross Fenstermaker's work with Precisionist.

* Speaking of Baffert, is he still as averse to synthetic track racing?

* Albertus Maximus and Well Armed drew the most attention in the BC Dirt Mile for their win and flop, respectively, but third-place finisher Two Step Salsa is a budding star. He ran a half-mile in 45.02 and held on to finish third. To go that fast against all that other speed and keep going was quite impressive.

The Grade 1 Malibu at seven furlongs at Santa Anita opening day Dec. 26 may be next for Two Step Salsa - though that race may also attract Into Mischief (a stakes winner in his comeback on the BC undercard) and El Gato Malo, who recently returned to the work tab.

* Champs Elysees came to the U.S. and trainer Bobby Frankel to be a top turf horse, maybe an Arlington Million type. He flashed talent in that regard but should owner Juddmonte Farms opt to keep him in training perhaps 2009 can be the year he makes a splash on synthetic tracks. He tried it twice, both times at Santa Anita. He was an excellent third, finishing powerfully despite trouble in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March. Then, in the BC Classic, he was last early and made decent headway to finish eighth. He was beaten just 5 1/4 lengths - with blinkers added to his equipment. Consider this: Duke of Marmalade, Fairbanks, Student Council, and Casino Drive, four pretty nice horses, finished behind him.

* A 2-year-old filly named Treasure Trail rallied nicely to finish fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, in her debut at Belmont Oct. 26 for trainer Shug McGaughey. The reason for my interest in this filly, who cost $550,000 at auction last year? She's the little sister of monster Zenyatta, by Pulpit (Zenyatta is by Street Cry).

w Persistently wasn't going to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, not with the way Stardom Bound ran. But Persistently had no chance to finish better than fifth when she got fanned out about 10 wide into the lane, a crucial juncture considering she was rallying at nearly the same pace as the eventual winner, albeit a few lengths behind her.