Updated on 09/18/2011 2:16AM

Scottish invader arrives for Champagne


ELMONT, N.Y. - It is commonplace this time of year for some of the best horses in France and England to come to New York to compete in the prestigious stakes events conducted at Belmont Park.

It is not as common for horses based in Scotland to make the transatlantic journey to New York. But on Saturday, the Scotland-based Big Timer will compete against some of North America's top 2-year-olds in the Grade 1, $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.

Big Timer is a Kentucky-bred gelded son of Street Cry who is 3 for 3, having won all his races on turf in England. He is trained by Ian Semple, who is based at the Belstane Racing Stables in Carluke, Scotland, just outside Glasgow. Gordon McDowall owns Belstane and recently purchased Big Timer from his previous owner, David McKenzie.

Semple, 58, worked eight years as an assistant to John Gosden before returning to his native Scotland to train. He said he sent Big Timer to New York because, as a gelding, Big Timer was ineligible for England's major juvenile stakes. Semple is also hopeful that a good performance in the Champagne could earn Big Timer a shot at the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

Big Timer has won his first three races by a combined 8 1/2 lengths including a 2 1/2-length score in a Group 3 stakes at York on Aug. 22.

"He's very, very athletic he has a big engine and he adapts," Semple said Wednesday outside Belmont's Barn 26 where he has Big Timer and stablemate Defi, who will run in a claiming race here on Saturday. "We've been really amazed how he's traveled; he's never left an oat. He's a strong 2-year-old, we're very hopeful he won't disgrace himself."

Big Timer arrived from Scotland on Saturday night and after clearing quarantine at Aqueduct on Monday, he vanned over to Belmont where he's trained on the main track for two mornings. Tom Eaves, Big Timer's regular rider, has gotten on him here and will ride him Saturday.

"The boys are saying the ground is very slow, but he's handling it," Semple said.

Semple said he's got nothing to lose trying Big Timer in the Champagne, which will feature such highly regarded 2-year-olds as Scat Daddy, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Liquidity and Got the Last Laugh.

"It won't be the end of the world, it's not life threatening, we can always go home," Semple said. "I brought him over and hopefully he'll do himself justice and if not, so what? We came; we tried. There's nothing for him at home. We'd have stood in the barn. He seems in very good form, he's very lively we'd just like to think he'll do himself justice."

Lilly Carson jumps up in class, distance

Matron winner Meadow Breeze will be the most accomplished runner in the field for Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette, but her competition will include some solid maiden winners attempting stakes company for the first time.

Among them is Lilly Carson, who won a 5 1-2-furlong maiden race at Saratoga as the 7-2 favorite in a field of 12. She covered the distance in 1:04.95 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 81, which makes her very competitive in what is shaping up as a wide-open event.

"It was I thought a very impressive race considering the calendar was kind of against her," said trainer Ralph Nicks, who thought his filly could have used another work or two before she ran. "I do think she is a better horse now than she was that day."

Lilly Carson, a daughter of Carson City, will attempt to stretch out to a mile in her second start off a six-week freshening. Nicks said Lilly Carson came out of that maiden win "very tired" which explains why she hasn't run in six weeks. Nicks would have liked to have run Lilly Carson in the seven-furlong Matron here on Sept. 23, but said that race was too close to the filly's debut race.

"The mile is going to be a question until it's done other than that she's pretty professional," Nicks said. "Being a Carson City she's very quick which is probably to her advantage. From Day One, her breezes have been very good and I think she's classy enough."

Cornelio Velasquez, aboard for the maiden win, will be aboard again on Saturday.

Others pointing to the Frizette are Awesome Ashley, Dinner Break, Imperial Reign, Meadow Breeze, Our Fantene, Sutra, and True Addiction.

McLaughlin has two for Jamaica

Million-dollar stakes winners Showing Up is the headliner in Saturday's Grade 3, $300,000 Jamaica Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old turf males, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin may have two potential upset candidates.

McLaughlin is planning to run both Carnera and Spider Power in the Jamaica, scheduled for 1 1-8 miles on the inner turf course. Carnera won the A in Sociology Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 5 before finishing second to Brilliant in the $500,000 Kent Breeders' Cup at Delaware.

"The turf course was very soft, Brilliant loved it," McLaughlin said. "We ran very well, I was pleased. We were second best. It was a good group of horses."

Spider Power finished fourth in the Kent, but was second to After Market in the Hall of Fame and third to Go Between in the Virginia Derby. He finished three-quarters of a length in front of Carnera when the two ran second and third behind Outperformance in the Hill Prince here in June.

Showing Up, who won the Colonial Turf Cup and Grade 1 Secretariat, is the 124-pound highweight for the Jamaica. Carnera carries 116 while Spider Power gets in with 115. Others expected to run include Manchu Prince, Outperformance, Devil's Preacher, Irish Osprey and Kiss the Kid. Green Lemon and Kip Deville are possible.McLaughlin may keep BC horses here

A few weeks ago, trainer McLaughlin was seriously thinking about shipping his Breeders' Cup horses, Invasor and Henny Hughes, to Keeneland to train over that track's Polytrack surface.

But, McLaughlin has had a change of heart, and, if Mother Nature cooperates, he plans to keep his horses in New York as long as possible.

"If the weathers good and they're doing well then they won't move," McLaughlin said. "If things are going well, you'd hate to relocate."

McLaughlin would work both horses here on Oct. 29 and ship as late as Nov. 1.

Levine entry tops feature

The last time Baby Rusch raced six furlongs over a fast Belmont main track, he won a first-level allowance for New York breds and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 104. He is scheduled to run six furlongs again at Belmont on Friday and, provided the track is fast, he will be the horse to beat in a second-level allowance race for New York breds. The race also carries a $30,000 optional claiming tag. Three of the horses are being offered for the tag.

Since winning that allowance race at Belmont, Baby Rusch caught mud in the Mike Lee then ran twice at Saratoga, finishing third and second in two races at this condition. In the race in which he finished second, the first and third place finishers came back to win their next starts.

"Not that he ran bad the last time," Levine said, "but since I brought him back here he's breezed better over Belmont than he does at Saratoga."

Baby Rusch will likely stalk the pace and may get some help from his stablemate, Remorse, who is drawn inside of him. Remorse has not won since taking a first-level allowance race over the inner track in January.

Other contenders in the field include Prince of Peace, who won a division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct in April, Soulshine and Air Race.