09/30/2008 11:00PM

Weekend should clarify the picture


Street Hero, a maiden, won the Grade 1 Norfolk. Vineyard Haven, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful, has an owner/trainer who is lukewarm at best on the Breeders' Cup. Run Away and Hide, the undefeated Midwest-based colt, has breezed only twice in seven weeks.

To say the makeup of the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile field is in flux would be putting it mildly. Perhaps there will be some order following this weekend's final round of prep races that include Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and the $400,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont - both Grade 1 events - and Sunday's $250,000 Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes at Woodbine. The winners of the Breeders' Futurity and Champagne gain an automatic berth into the Juvenile by virtue of those races being part of the Win and You're In program guaranteeing Breeders' Cup spots.

Much of the focus in the Champagne will be on Cribnote, who managed to finish second in the Hopeful despite bearing out badly around the turn and into the stretch. Jockey Rajiv Margh was able to straighten him out in upper stretch, and the horse closed well to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths behind Vineyard Haven.

That he was able to finish second either spoke volumes of his talent or was a negative statement on the remainder of the Hopeful field. Based on Cribnote's impressive 13 1/2-length maiden win in a New York-bred race - from which three horses returned to win - trainer Rick Violette believes the horse is "freakishly talented."

Violette believes that Cribnote simply got startled by horses being inside of him in the Hopeful. Violette has trained Cribnote with horses on the inside of him since that race and has seen no sign of the horse wanting to bear out. He also put blinkers on Cribnote for a six-furlong workout in 1:13.61 on Sept. 25, and the horse will likely wear them in the Champagne.

"He's galloped next to horses, his last breeze he was lapped onto another horse, and we've had him with the pony," Violette said. "I played with blinkers and I might enter with them and decide what kind of cup I want to put on based on what kind of draw I get."

Violette said Cribnote is not a lock to go to the Breeders' Cup even if he wins the Champagne. After the race, Violette does plan to ship Cribnote to the Fair Hill training center in Maryland, which has a synthetic surface. If Violette likes how Cribnote handles that surface, he may give the Breeders' Cup a try.

"To be honest with you the main goal is the Champagne," Violette said. "If that's what we accomplish and that race is a tough race on him, we don't have to go to the Breeders' Cup."

Bobby Frankel, the primary owner and trainer of Vineyard Haven, is not committing his horse to the Breeders' Cup either. He would have to supplement his horse to the race for a fee of $180,000. Like Violette, Frankel's focus is on the Champagne.

The Champagne figures to determine the Breeders' Cup fate of Munnings and Break Water Edison, the third- and fourth-place finishers of the Hopeful. Gone Astray and Girolamo had difficult trips in the Belmont Futurity run over a wet track. Hello Broadway and Ventana enter the Champagne off sharp debut wins at Saratoga and Belmont, respectively. A.P. Cardinal won his debut at Monmouth.

Terrain, who was moved up from third to first in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity, is the most accomplished of the 11 runners entered in Saturday's Breeders' Futurity. Notonthesamepage, who set a Churchill track record for 4 1/2 furlongs, tries to rebound from a disastrous summer in stakes company. Reynaldothewizard and Majestic Blue are other contenders in a deep race.

In Sunday's Grey Stakes, Southern Exchange, a two-time stakes winner at Woodbine, Stimulus Plan, and Bear's Conductor will seek to earn their tickets to the Juvenile.

Run Away and Hide, undefeated in three starts including two stakes wins, worked five furlongs in 59 seconds Wednesday over Keeneland's Polytrack. Trainer Ronny Werner said a longer work next week - perhaps a mile - will determine whether the colt can make the Breeders' Cup.

Charitable Man, the Futurity winner, worked four furlongs in 48.23 seconds Tuesday at Belmont and will point straight to the Breeders' Cup.