Updated on 09/15/2011 1:16PM

Turf: Distance question for Hap


ELMONT, N.Y. - There will be an element of suspense attached to Hap's start in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 27. Unlike leading contenders for the Turf - Sakhee, Timboroa, and With Anticipation - Hap is unproven at the race distance of 1 1/2 miles.

With most of the races in his career ranging from a mile to 1 1/8 miles, Hap has made only one start at 1 1/4 miles, finishing second to Silvano in the Arlington Million in August. Owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust and trained by Bill Mott, Hap was cross-entered in the Turf and $1 million Mile, but is being pointed to the Turf, Mott emphasized on Thursday.

"I don't think a mile is to his liking," Mott said. "If there was a race at a mile and a quarter, we'd be very pleased. We're stepping into unknown territory."

As a result, Hap is likely to be 10-1 or higher in the Turf, which has a probable field of 14. Most recently, Hap won the Shadwell Keeneland Mile by a comfortable 1 1/2 lengths. Even though the Keeneland Mile was Hap's 10th win in 16 starts, and his first start since the Arlington Million, it did little to support any theories that Hap can be effective going another half-mile.

"I wouldn't have any indication from that race," Mott said. Mott says he is more comfortable assessing Hap's ability over longer races at 1 1/8 miles and 1 1/4 miles. "I thought his race in the Arlington Million was a good race," Mott said. "He didn't like the soft going and that's something we may have to deal with. If we have any rain in the week of the race, we'll probably have soft turf. Firm is better. It will help get the distance."

While Mott is hoping for a firm turf course, one of his Canadian counterparts, Phillip England, is hoping for a softer course to suit his longshot, Lodge Hill. Likely to be one of the highest prices in the fields, at odds of 50-1 or higher, Lodge Hill is winless in seven starts this year. In the Grade 1 Canadian International on Sept. 30, Lodge Hill was fifth at 48-1, but placed third after the disqualifications of Zindabad and Daliapour, the original third and fourth-place finishers. The promotion was worth $165,000 and was Lodge Hill's biggest payday since he won the 2000 Breeders' Stakes, part of the Canadian Triple Crown, while being trained by Todd Pletcher.

Lodge Hill joined England's stable last winter. He was second in the Grade 3 Connaught Cup at Woodbine last May and second in an allowance race at Saratoga on Aug. 12. The Connaught Cup was run on a yielding course. "He does need the turf a bit soft," England said. "We're trying to get a bit lucky. He loves the distance. There are a few things that could happen that could make it interesting."

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