07/23/2009 11:00PM

Stardom Bound targets Ladies' Classic

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Benoit & Associates
Stardom Bound has resumed training with Richard Dutrow Jr. and is targeting this fall's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Before there was Rachel Alexandra, there was Stardom Bound.

Last year's champion 2-year-old filly, Stardom Bound won the first two starts of her 3-year-old season - both Grade 1 races - and appeared headed for a showdown with Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks. But then Stardom Bound finished third in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in April - ending a five-race winning streak - and emerged from that race "completely wiped out," according to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

Following the Ashland, Stardom Bound was turned out for several weeks at a Kentucky farm. She was returned to Dutrow's Aqueduct barn at the beginning of July and has been in training for three weeks. Dutrow's ambitious goal with Stardom Bound is to get her to the Breeders Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita in November, quite possibly without a prep race.

Stardom Bound is 4 for 4 at Santa Anita, all Grade 1 races, including last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"With Rachel not looking to run in the Breeders' Cup, and with Zenyatta looking to run in the Classic, if she trains good and is ready, that could leave the door open," Dutrow said Thursday at his Aqueduct barn.

Dutrow said he didn't think he could fit a prep race in for Stardom Bound because he's afraid she could run too big of a race off a long layoff and not have enough time to recover for the Breeders' Cup.

"I'm not in a hurry to get her ready to run in a prep," Dutrow said. "If she gets there, it's not anything I'd be doing special, it'd be all up to her. Right now, that's what we're hoping for, that's what our goal is. If she doesn't take us there, we can always regroup."

As a 2-year-old, Stardom Bound raced for owner Charles Cono and trainer Christopher Paasch. Stardom Bound went through the auction ring last November and was bought for $5.7 million by a group headed by the IEAH Stable.

In addition to welcoming Stardom Bound back to his barn, Dutrow also has picked up two other graded stakes winners - Anak Nakal and Court Vision - from other trainers.

Anak Nakal, who won the Pennsylvania Derby at 3 and the Kentucky Jockey Club at 2 when trained by Nick Zito, has not run since finishing 14th in the Dubai World Cup on March 28. On Thursday, Anak Nakal, owned by Four Roses, worked three furlongs in 39.99 seconds at Aqueduct, his first work since coming to Dutrow.

"He's really good right now," Dutrow said. "I've had him probably 25 days. We started from scratch, jogging, galloping, I can't believe he was ready to breeze so quickly, but he was and we were very happy he was."

The Grade 1 winner Court Vision, meanwhile, has been in Dutrow's care since July 15 after IEAH Stable/WinStar Farm transferred him from trainer Bill Mott following five subpar performances.

Dutrow has placed Court Vision in the stall right outside his office door and hasn't liked what he's seen from the 4-year-old colt.

"He doesn't seem like he's the happiest thing in the world; he should have more to say," Dutrow said while sitting back in his chair and staring at the lifeless Court Vision.

Court Vision worked five furlongs in 1:05.20 on July 19.

"We breezed him on the grass the other day and he went good," said Dutrow of the work. "But he hasn't been eating everything. I think something's bugging him somewhere. He doesn't look comfortable to me. I don't know what's going on."

Meanwhile, Dutrow has liked what he's seen from Kip Deville and Benny the Bull and is pointing both for races at Saratoga. Kip Deville could run in the Fourstardave on Aug. 2, while Benny the Bull is possible for either the Alfred G. Vanderbilt on Aug. 9 or the Forego on Sept. 5.

Dry Martini aimed at Whitney

With his solid victory in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap earlier this month, Dry Martini is a logical candidate for the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at the same 1 1/4 miles here Oct. 3. What to do with the 6-year-old in the three months between those races was a dilemma that trainer Barclay Tagg has apparently resolved.

Dry Martini is being pointed to the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 8, Tagg said earlier this week. On Monday, Dry Martini worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, the fastest of 16 works at the distance.

The Whitney actually provides Tagg with more time than he originally thought between races. Dry Martini will have five weeks from the Suburban to the Whitney and eight weeks from the Whitney to the Gold Cup.

"I'd like to have five or six weeks between each one," Tagg said. "He's doing really good right now."

Tagg also has taken over the training of Just Ben, who was purchased privately by Lael Stables following his blowout 13 3/4-length allowance win on Belmont Day. Just Ben, who was previously trained by Zito, unsuccessfully attempted to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the Dwyer, fading to sixth after setting the pace.

On Wednesday, Just Ben worked four furlongs in 49.45 seconds and will most likely make his next start in the Amsterdam, a 6 1/2-furlong race Aug. 3. That race is expected to mark the return to the races of Quality Road, who on Thursday worked five furlongs in 59.88 over Belmont's main track.

Dominguez ties Cordero record

Ramon Dominguez won two races on Thursday's card, giving him 92 for the meet, which ties the modern-day record for wins by a jockey at a Belmont Park spring/summer session. Angel Cordero won 92 races in 1982.

Dominguez won the opener aboard Inter Galactic and the fourth on Mine or Who's, two of five favorites that won on the card. Dominguez, who has three days to break the record, is riding this meet full-time for the first time this year.

Lezcano suspended, then injured

Thursday wasn't a good day for jockey Jose Lezcano.

First, he received a careless riding suspension for an incident that happened during the running of Wednesday's seventh race. In an effort to be ready for opening day at Saratoga, Lezcano did not appeal the suspension, which in turn was reduced to three days (Friday through Sunday).

Adding injury to insult, Lezcano was thrown from his mount, Il Senatore, in the fifth race and had to be taken to North Shore University Hospital after complaining of a bruised left arm. Efforts to reach Lezcano's agent, Jason Beides, for further updates, were unsuccessful late Thursday afternoon.

Lezcano finished the meet with 42 victories, good for third in the standings, with three cards left. Only Rajiv Maragh (67) and Dominguez (92) are ahead of him, but Cornelio Velasquez (40), John Velazquez (38), and Alan Garcia (37) are right behind him.

NYRA starts Hirsch writing award

The New York Racing Association announced the creation of the Joe Hirsch Memorial Writing Award to recognize outstanding print and Internet coverage of the Belmont Stakes.

Open to any member of the print/Internet media who covered the 141st Belmont Stakes, the inaugural Joe Hirsch Writing Award will accept entries in two categories: Belmont Stakes feature/advance, and Belmont Stakes wrap-up.

Entries (hard-copy only) must be accompanied by a cover letter, signed by the author, stating their wish to enter the contest. The cover letter must also include contact information, publication information, and the entry category. The deadline to enter is Sept. 30.

The award is named in honor of Joe Hirsch, the longtime executive columnist for Daily Racing Form who died Jan. 9.