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Steep fees make BC decisions difficult
ELMONT, N.Y. - It remains to be seen if last weekend's trio of Grade 1 stakes conducted at Belmont Park will have any impact on next month's Breeders' Cup World Championships at Monmouth Park.
The winners of the Ruffian (Ginger Punch), Man o' War (Doctor Dino), and Garden City Breeders' Cup (Alexander Tango) are not nominated to the Breeders' Cup and would have to be supplemented at six-figure sums.
Ginger Punch had already secured a spot in the $2 million Distaff when she won the Grade 1 Go for Wand at Saratoga. That race was part of the Win and You're In series that the Breeders' Cup initiated this year. Owner Frank Stronach would still have to pony up $180,000 to get Ginger Punch into the Distaff.
Bobby Frankel, the trainer of Ginger Punch, said he doesn't think the $180,000 supplemental fee would be a prohibitive factor as much as the possibility of drawing an outside post at Monmouth Park.
"You could draw the 12-hole . . . or the track could come up sloppy," Frankel said.
That's why Frankel's immediate focus with Ginger Punch is the $600,000 Beldame here on Sept. 30. A victory in that race would be her third straight Grade 1 and fourth straight graded stakes win, and would put her in serious contention for championship honors in the older female division along with the undefeated Nashoba's Key.
Miss Shop, who won the Grade 1 Personal Ensign and was second to Ginger Punch in the Ruffian, is nominated to the Breeders' Cup. Take D' Tour, who finished last, is not nominated, and her connections will wait a little while before deciding what to do.
Doctor Dino, who won the Man o' War by a head over Sunriver, is not nominated and it would cost his connections $270,000 to supplement to the $3 million BC Turf. Doctor Dino was scheduled to ship back to Europe on Monday and concentrate on the Hong Kong Cup at the end of November.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunriver's participation in the BC Turf would most likely depend on the condition of the Monmouth turf course in late October. Sunriver is much better on firm ground than he is on good or soft turf.
Grand Couturier, the Sword Dancer winner who finished third in the Man o' War, will be kept under consideration for the BC Turf and the $2 million Canadian International at Woodbine six days earlier, trainer Robert Ribaudo said.
Ribaudo said Monday that he and owner Marc Keller would be most interested in seeing what European-based horses are coming for the Turf before making a decision.
Alexander Tango, winner of the Garden City BC, remained at Belmont Park to point for the Flower Bowl Invitational here on Sept. 29. It would cost her connections $180,000 to supplement to the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf.
James Stack, assistant to and son of trainer Tommy Stack, said Alexander Tango would have to win the Flower Bowl most impressively to even be considered for the Breeders' Cup.
"Most likely, win, lose, or draw in the Flower Bowl, she'll come back,'' Stack said Monday from Chantilly. "She has to do 30 days' quarantine because she stayed there so long. It's a nice problem to have.''
Rutherienne comes back with cuts
Rutherienne, who finished last in the Garden City, came out of the race with several cuts and scrapes, including a significant cut to her right hind ankle, trainer Christophe Clement said Monday.
"She came out of it lame; she had cuts all over the place,'' Clement said. "One of the cuts is a bit worse in her right hind ankle. I think she'll be fine with time.''
Clement said the slow pace of the Garden City meant everyone was bunched together and racing in close quarters, and he believes that's how the cuts came about.
Prior to the Garden City, Rutherienne had won five consecutive races, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Clement said he has no plans with Rutherienne at the moment and did not say whether she could make the Grade 1, $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 15.
"We'll just give her a bit of time and go from there,'' he said.
Tough Tiz's Sis works for Gazelle
Add Tough Tiz's Sis to the list of 3-year-old fillies willing to take on Rags to Riches in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 Gazelle.
Tough Tiz's Sis worked a strong five furlongs in 59.82 seconds Sunday morning in company with the 2-year-old maiden winner J Be K, who was given the same time. According to Tonja Terranova, who is assisting trainer Bob Baffert with his New York string, Tough Tiz's Sis, under exercise rider Simon Harris, continued on in her breeze, getting six furlongs in 1:12 and seven-eighths in 1:24.
"She worked awesome,'' Terranova said. "There were a couple of horses that broke off in front of them at the three-eighths pole, and they split them and were on cruise control. Bob wanted Simon to go out a good three-quarters and seven-eighths, and she did.''
Tough Tiz's Sis won the Grade 2 Hollywood BC Oaks in June before setting the pace and fading to sixth behind Lady Joanne in the Alabama last month at Saratoga.
Tough Tiz's Sis joins Lear's Princess and Le Chateau as those expected to take on Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches in the Gazelle. Lady Marlboro and Humble Janet are both possible.
Curlin works at Saratoga
Preakness winner Curlin has enjoyed training in Saratoga so much this summer that his connections have decided to keep him there for the immediate future. On Monday, Curlin breezed six furlongs in 1:13.16 over the Oklahoma training track as he continues preparations for the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 30.
It was Curlin's fourth work over that track since he finished third in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Aug. 5.
"He worked super,'' said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. "I couldn't ask for him to be doing any better.''
Though officially the breeze is listed over a wet-fast surface, Blasi said he got Curlin's work in early Monday morning before the rains came.
Blasi said that Curlin is thriving in upstate New York, which is why he will most likely have his next work at Saratoga on Monday before shipping to Belmont, where he would likely have his final breeze before the Gold Cup.
"He's in a very good routine right now,'' Blasi said. "He's been a lot smoother since the Haskell.''
Blasi said that Kodiak Kowboy, winner of four straight including the Saratoga Special in his last start, worked four furlongs in 48.63 seconds on Sunday at Saratoga. He is scheduled to ship to Belmont on Wednesday and will run in Saturday's Grade 2 Futurity at seven furlongs.
Violette suspended, fined
Trainer Rick Violette began serving a seven-day suspension on Tuesday and was fined $1,000 after one of horses tested positive for a banned substance.
Joaquin Memphis was found to have the drug Flunixin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, in his system following his victory in the fifth race at Belmont on May 2. The horse was disqualified from first and ruled unplaced in the order of finish.
The suspension was reduced from 15 days after Violette waived his right of appeal. Violette is the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.
Horses from Violette's barn will run in the name of his assistant, Melissa Cohen, through Monday.