07/21/2010 2:56PM

Vineyard Haven resumes hunt for Breeders' Cup start


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Will a Breeders’ Cup race finally be in Vineyard Haven’s future this year? The first step towards answering that question comes Friday at Saratoga when the three-time Grade 1 winner makes his long-awaited 2010 debut in the $75,000 James Marvin Stakes, a seven-furlong overnight event that drew a very talented field of older horses.

Also lined up for the race are multiple graded stakes winners such as Friesan Fire and Le Grand Cru, Grade 2 winner You and I Forever, Discreet Treasure, Cool Coal Man, Flat Bold, Silver Edition and Half Metal Jacket.

Vineyard Haven has not started since finishing third after setting a contested pace in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap on Nov. 28. Five weeks earlier, Vineyard Haven added the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial at Laurel to a pair of Grade 1 wins at 2 in the Hopeful and Champagne. He was also disqualified from first and placed second here last summer in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop.

Despite all his success, Vineyard Haven has yet to participate in the Breeders’ Cup. Trainer Bobby Frankel opted to pass the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Vineyard Haven because the race was run over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita. His present connections, Godolphin Stable and trainer Saeed bin Suroor, echoed those same sentiments when they opted for the Cigar Mile instead of the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last fall.

“With the Breeders’ Cup on dirt this year at Churchill Downs, it changes things,” said bin Suroor’s New York-based assistant, Rick Mettee. “We’d have liked to have started him back a little earlier, but there are only so many races and we didn’t want to run him at six furlongs. Seven is a good distance, and while he probably won’t be as fit as he was for the King’s Bishop, he’s done enough work and has trained well enough to be ready.”

Several of Vineyard Haven’s main rivals in the James Marvin are coming off layoffs of their own.

Friesan Fire, who swept Fair Grounds’ trio of Kentucky Derby preps last year, has not started since finishing a distant eighth in Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Alysheba on April 30 and has not run at any distance less than a mile since finishing third in Belmont’s Grade 2 Futurity at 2.

Discreet Treasure will make his first start since being transferred to trainer Bruce Brown’s barn and first since winning a high-priced optional claiming race at Belmont in July of 2009.

Cool Coal Man, who won an overnight stakes by a dozen lengths here last summer, exits his best race of the season, a two length victory in Monmouth Park’s Skip Away.