07/30/2009 11:00PM

Turf an unknown for Mr. Foricos Two U


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Catherine Day Phillips has two wins in the Breeders' Stakes in her portfolio, having sent out A Bit O' Gold to win as the second choice in 2004 and Jambalaya to prevail the following year as the favorite.

But Day Phillips will find herself in a different position Sunday, when she saddles Mr. Foricos Two U for the $500,000 Breeders', the 1o1/2-mile turf race that is the final leg of the Triple Crown for Canadian-bred 3-year-olds.

"With A Bit O' Gold, the turf was new for him, but the quality of the efforts he put forth was well known," Day Phillips said.

"Jambalaya, we obviously knew he loved the turf. He was an emerging star at the time."

A Bit O' Gold came into the Breeders' with impeccable credentials, having won the Coronation Futurity as a 2-year-old and with his successes in the Plate Trial and Prince of Wales being interrupted by a close second-place finish in the Queen's Plate.

Jambalaya was making his stakes debut in the Breeders' after winning his maiden at 1 1/16 miles and a first-level allowance at 1 3/8 miles in his first two outings on turf.

Mr. Foricos Two U also ran in both the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales, finishing second here but fifth of six at Fort Erie. He remains eligible for an open first-level allowance.

The Ontario-sired gelding also will be trying turf for the first time, and last weekend's rains deprived him of an opportunity to work on the surface.

Day Phillips, however, remains optimistic.

"Pedigree-wise, he should like the turf and the distance," said Day Phillips, who trains Mr. Foricos Two U for owners Rocco d'Alimonte and Frank Annecchini.

Mr. Foricos Two U found himself as an unlikely early leader in the 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate and battled to the wire only to be beaten a neck by Eye of the Leopard, who came back to finish third in the Prince of Wales and is the Breeders' favorite.

In the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, Mr. Foricos Two U figured to be prominent from the outset under returning rider Mike Smith.

But Mr. Foricos Two U never really entered serious contention and wound up seven lengths behind the winner, Gallant, who also is in the Breeders' lineup.

"I didn't think he looked comfortable in the race at any point," Day Phillips said. "He didn't relax and ended up ramming between horses. It looked like he was okay when Mike asked him at the quarter pole, but he had no interest. Nothing went right that day."

After watching those contrasting efforts, Day Phillips is loath to predict how Mr. Foricos Two U will be positioned through the early stages of the Breeders'.

"I thought in the Plate he'd be off the pace and that in the Wales he'd be on the lead," Day Phillips said. "Foricos does what he wants to do, not what I think he should be doing at the time."

Patrick Husbands, who rode Mr. Foricos Two U to win his maiden over seven furlongs here May 27, was aboard for his five-furlong tune-up in 1:01 here last Sunday and has the call for the Breeders'.

Husbands won the Breeders' with Wando in 2003, Royal Challenger in 2006, and Marchfield in 2007.

A Bit O' Gold retired in 2006 and is currently on the Day Phillips farm in Ocala, with a life as a stable pony possibly in his future.

Jambalaya, meanwhile, is back in training and has not seen action since winning the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Aug. 11, 2007.

"He's pretty fit; he gallops a strong two miles every day," said Day Phillips, who has seen Jambalaya fall prey to various setbacks during his absence from the races. "If we can get him into a regular breezing pattern, he should come to hand pretty quickly."

Marlang back on Poly for Seagram Cup

Marlang, last year's Breeders' winner, is slated to make his second start of the season in Monday's Grade 3, $150,000 Seagram Cup.

The Seagram Cup, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, could mark Marlang's first venture on Polytrack since he finished fifth in a first-level allowance over 1 1/8 miles here last May 24.

"I definitely think he's better on the turf, but he did run well on Polytrack," said trainer Debbie England, who had sent out Marlang to win a "B" maiden race over seven furlongs in his 2008 bow. "When we ran him back around two turns we were thinking about the Queen's Plate. He wasn't quite right that day; he came back with a little bit of mucus."

Marlang made the remainder of his starts last year on the turf, also winning the one-mile Charlie Barley here in June and Saratoga's Grade 3 Saranac at 1 3/16 miles in his race after the Breeders' for his owner and breeder Gustav Schickedanz.

After running last of 10 in the Canadian International, Marlang was sent to the Schickedanz farm in South Carolina before returning to England here this spring.

Entered in the June 27 King Edward, Marlang scratched in favor of an optional $100,000 claiming/fourth-level allowance race the following day, but finished third as the even-money choice over one mile of good going.

"I think he would have run a bit better if the turf was fast," England said. "He just doesn't handle it; he punches into it."

The turf was soft for Marlang's next scheduled engagement in last Sunday's Nijinsky, and again the colt was scratched.

England also nominated Marlang to the Grade 2, $150,000 Fourstardave, a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Saratoga on Sunday.

"I don't really think it's a good thing to ship after one race," England said.

England also nominated Marlang to the With Approval, a 1 1/8-mile turf stakes for Ontario-foals. But as an overnight stakes, the With Approval would require at least five entrants to be carded and the prospect of off turf always is a possibility.

"I can't keep putting everything off," England said.

Marlang also will have a new pilot in Jono Jones. Richard Dos Ramos had been Marlang's only rider to date but committed to Palladio for the Seagram.