Updated on 09/16/2011 8:24AM

Sarafan uses Hirsch as Japan Cup prep


ARCADIA, Calif. - Not all horses starting in major stakes this weekend have the Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 as an autumn goal.

In Sunday's $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship at Oak Tree at Santa Anita, Sarafan, who is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, is using the race as a prep to the Japan Cup in late November.

For The Tin Man, however, the Hirsch could be a springboard to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf. The Tin Man is the likely second betting choice.

Run over 1 1/4 miles, the Hirsch has not drawn a strong field. Sarafan is the only Grade 1 winner in the eight-horse lineup. The Tin Man won the Grade 2 American Handicap in July, while Skipping (Jim Murray Handicap), Nazirali (San Luis Obispo Handicap), and Night Patrol (Inglewood Handicap) have won stakes this year.

Sarafan drew the rail and will be coupled in the betting with Hawkeye, who is winless in four starts in four countries this year. The entry will be favored.

Sarafan upset Beat Hollow in the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar on July 28 and was second to Beat Hollow in the Arlington Million at Arlington Park on Aug. 17, missing by a head with a late rally.

"He was a little unlucky on the turn at a critical time," said John O'Donoghue, assistant to trainer Neil Drysdale. "He got shuffled back."

The Tin Man, a 4-year-old, has been tried in distances of one mile and longer on turf this year, and will focus on marathon distances this fall, trainer Richard Mandella said.

The Tin Man was second in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Sept. 1, and must run well in the Hirsch to convince Mandella to try the Breeders' Cup.

"I'm not saying he'd have to win, but he'd have to run very well," Mandella said. "This sets him up well. I think it's a better way to prep, especially with the short period of time to the Breeders' Cup."

There are others capable of pulling an upset. Trainer Julio Canani has two starters - Myster Kybelee, who was sixth in the Del Mar Handicap in his U.S. debut last month, and Nazirali, who was sidelined after the San Luis Obispo.

Night Patrol and Skipping were second and third, respectively, behind the well-regarded Denon in the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park in June but have not won since.

They would need to win on Sunday to justify a trip to the Breeders' Cup Turf.

for entries.

Subscribers: to purchase Santa Anita past performances.

Non-subscribers: to purchase Santa Anita past performances.