10/09/2005 11:00PM

Singletary sparkles in BC prep

Email
Horsephotos
Singletary's victory in the Oak Tree Mile, off a nearly three-month break, was clearly last weekend's most impressive BC prep performance.

NEW YORK - Notes on some of last weekend's final major preps for the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup:

Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile - Of all the winning performances over the weekend, Singletary's in the Oak Tree Mile was the most impressive. Part of the reason is that Singletary had not started since July 24, and the last four times he raced off a layoff of seven weeks or more, he lost. He had been much more effective second start back off a layoff, as evidenced by his upset victory in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile and his win earlier this year in the Arcadia Handicap. But Saturday, there was no rust on Singletary. He rallied three wide on the far turn and four wide into the stretch. He moved into the fastest part of the race, running his last quarter-mile in approximately 22.50 seconds. He inhaled his field, going from last to first to score by daylight. And he did it with nothing more than a mild hand ride from jockey David Flores. It is quite possible that Singletary has never run better, even when he won the

BC Mile. With the presence of Leroidesanimaux and who knows what from Europe, this year's BC Mile will not be a stroll through the park. But given what he did in the Oak Tree Mile, Singletary's chances for a defense have suddenly improved, and by a great deal.

Champagne: The early fractions of 21.63 for the opening quarter and 43.67 to the half were so insanely fast that they stretch credulity. After guiding First Samurai to yet another decisive victory, jockey Jerry Bailey did comment on a fierce tailwind down the backstretch. But if they were really going that fast early, you would think that it would have been a lot more than just 2 1/2 lengths between the first five runners after a quarter of a mile, and more than just three lengths between the first four runners after the half. In any event, even if the posted fractions were merely in the ballpark, this was a case where you can't really take issue with the final quarter-mile in the one-mile Champagne taking 27.54 to complete. Considering the reserves spent early, it was amazing they finished even that well. And there is certainly nothing to take issue with concerning First Samurai. He is now 4 for 4, and after mastering an obviously talented colt in Henny Hughes, who seemed a lot more formidable Saturday than he was when he lost to First Samurai for the first time in the Hopeful, it is clear First Samurai will be not only a strong favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but also very difficult to beat.

Lane's End Breeders' Futurity: I'm going to go out on a limb here (not really) and say that if you're searching for a threat to First Samurai on Breeders' Cup Day, this might not be the place to look. In a year when the Breeders' Cup is at Belmont Park, and with the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile being run around one turn, a two-turn prep like this figured to suffer because it makes little sense to prep around two turns and then cut back to one. But the suspect group in this race was thoroughly exposed by an unlikely source: the previously unheralded Dawn of War. With his only two previous wins coming in a small stakes at Canterbury Park and in an allowance race at River Downs, Dawn of War was understandably dismissed at 36-1. But he benefited from a heady ride from the also previously unheralded John Jacinto, who gunned his colt to the front from an outside post and got him over to the inside before reaching the first turn, making this race a carbon copy of the . . .

Darley Alcibiades: Run on opening day at Keeneland on Friday, She Says It Best and jockey Eddie Martin Jr. provided the blueprint for success to Dawn of War when she shot to the lead from an outside post, quickly got over to the rail, and led her field on a merry chase to upset this prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. But as a colleague of mine commented, it seemed that on Friday at Keeneland, if a Shetland pony turned for home with the lead, he would have gone on to beat Secretariat.

Frizette: This race pretty much confirmed the notion that if you're looking for the strength going into the Juvenile Fillies, you have to start with the top two New York-based fillies, Adieu and Folklore. Folklore won last month's Matron Stakes by 14 lengths in what remains the fastest juvenile filly Breeders' Cup prep by far (99 Beyer Speed Figure) in this division. But Adieu beat Folklore in 2 of their 3 meetings, and in winning this race, she enhanced the impression that she is not the type to run off and hide like Folklore did in the Matron, but instead is the type of individual who loves a battle. If there was anything unsatisfying about Adieu's score Saturday, it is that her final time of 1:38.07 for the mile suffers in comparison to First Samurai's time of 1:36.29 in the Champagne 38 minutes later.