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Wild Spirit now likely for Distaff
ELMONT, N.Y. - It now appears trainer Bobby Frankel will take two shots at Azeri in the Breeders' Cup Distaff later this month at Santa Anita.
Frankel on Tuesday gave every indication that Wild Spirit, the Chilean-bred mare who is 3 for 4 in this country, will be supplemented by her owner, Oussama Abou-Ghazale, to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff at a cost of $400,000. Wild Spirit, who won the Grade 1 Ruffian in her last start, would join Sightseek, a four-time Grade 1 winner, as Frankel's representatives in the Distaff.
"I got a feeling they're going to put up the money," Frankel said Tuesday at Belmont after Wild Spirit worked five furlongs in 1:00.68 under jockey Aaron Gryder.
According to Frankel, Abou-Ghazale "said if she's doing well, run her." Calling the Distaff "the opportunity of a lifetime," Frankel noted that the owner "might not ever get another chance.''
Wild Spirit would add depth to an already terrific renewal of the Distaff. Azeri, the defending Distaff winner and Horse of the Year, is expected to run, as are Got Koko, Take Charge Lady, Adoration, Elloluv, and Lady Tak.
Wild Spirit was a multiple Group 1 winner in Chile when she came to Frankel early this year. She was dominant winning the Grade 2 Shuvee at Belmont in May and the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in July. After losing by a nose as the 1-5 favorite in the Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga, Wild Spirit rebounded with a dominant 3 1/2-length win in the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont on Sept. 13. Over all she has nine victories and four second-place finishes from 14 career starts.
"If anything, she'll be coming into the race fresher than Sightseek," Frankel said. "I don't know which one's better. I think the horse everybody's forgetting about is Got Koko. She ain't too bad, and she runs good over that track."
Frankel said that Jerry Bailey would ride Sightseek and that he has not finalized a rider for Wild Spirit.
Meanwhile, Frankel worked Midas Eyes six furlongs in 1:13.14 Tuesday over Belmont's main track in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Frankel said John Velazquez would ride Midas Eyes, who has not run since finishing second by a nose to Posse in the Grade 3 Riva Ridge Stakes on June 7. Before that, Midas Eyes won the Swale at Gulfstream in March and the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs in April.
"With his style of running, he might have a great shot," said Frankel, who will also start Aldebaran in the Sprint. "He's not a horse that needs the lead, he's going to be forwardly placed, and one thing about him - at six furlongs he's pretty gutsy.''
Wild Spirit, Sightseek, Midas Eyes, Aldebaran, and Heat Haze were part of a 14-horse contingent that was scheduled to leave New York for California on Wednesday. Spoken Fur was also part of that load, but was to stop in Lexington, Ky., where she will run in Saturday's Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup on the Keeneland turf.
On Friday, Frankel is scheduled to send another dozen horses back to California. Frankel said he would leave about six horses in New York, including Betty's Wish, who is expected to run in Monday's $100,000 Pebbles Handicap here. Frankel said El Gran Papa and Sindbad will be trained by Tom Bush, while Tau Ceti will be left with Lisa Lewis and is expected to run in the Knickerbocker Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 1.
Kicken Kris heads Realization field
Kicken Kris, winner of the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August, will be a strong favorite in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Lawrence Realization Handicap for 3-year-olds at 1 1/2 miles on turf.
Kicken Kris, trained by Michael Matz, is the only stakes winner among the seven horses expected for the race. Kicken Kris is coming off a second-place finish to Stroll in the Grade 2 Jamaica Handicap here on Sept. 21. Trainer Michael Matz felt his horse was undone by the combination of being close to a fast pace and getting a wide trip.
"We had an outside trip and we got beat two lengths and [Stroll] had an inside trip and really went well," Matz said. Kicken Kris will be the 121-pound highweight in the Lawrence Realization. Others expected to run, and their weight assignments, are Go Deputy (115), Ramillus (115), Saint Stephen (115), Carrier (113), Devils Peak (113), and Fortune Writers (113).
Evening Attire's Classic status up in air
On Tuesday, Evening Attire worked for the first time since finishing third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 27. After covering six furlongs in 1:12.94 over the main track, the fastest of seven works at the distance, Evening Attire's status for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic is still undecided.
Last year, Evening Attire, who is trained by Pat Kelly, finished fourth in the Classic at Arlington Park. Kelly, who must decide by next Tuesday, the deadline for pre-entries, said the chances of running in the Classic are "50-50."
"This work had nothing to do with the Breeders' Cup," Kelly said. "He needed to stretch his legs, because he didn't do anything since he ran. We'll see what everyone else is doing. Obviously, Mineshaft retiring has people rethinking the situation."
Evening Attire, who has won two allowance races this year, will probably work again early next week.
Buy the Sport going to Falls City
Buy the Sport, third in last Saturday's Grade 1 Beldame, will not run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Instead, Buy the Sport, who won the Grade 1 Gazelle in her start before the Beldame, will be pointed to the $250,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27.
In the Beldame, Buy the Sport broke from the rail and was beaten 9 1/4 lengths by the winner, Sightseek.
"The 1 post really hurt her," Barbara said. "She wanted to run a little more than she could. We didn't want to make the whole leap to the Breeders' Cup to run against some very tough, tough fillies. I would love to run her two turns in the Churchill race, because I think she will enjoy that."
Trademark leads exodus to Dubai
Trademark, who finished sixth in last Saturday's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, will leave New York soon for Dubai.
Kiaran McLaughlin, who has trained Trademark for the Maktoum family's Darley Stable, said Trademark, State Shinto, Northern Rock, and Orchestrated would enter quarantine for a 30-day stay before traveling to the Middle East. Trademark is the most accomplished member of that quartet, with wins this year in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch and Grade 2 Fourstardave.
Last month, McLaughlin announced he would not be returning to Dubai this winter as he had done for the last several years as a private trainer for the Maktoums. McLaughlin is now operating a public stable and plans on having divisions in New York and Florida this winter.
"Sheikh Mohammed's son wants to see these horses race in Dubai, so I kind of anticipated it," McLaughlin said. "I hope to get some new horses and these back next year."
Last Saturday, McLaughlin won the Grade 3 Safely Kept Breeders' Cup Handicap at Pimlico with Randaroo, the first horse he saddled for one of his new owners, Joe Allen. McLaughlin hasn't decided on a next start for Randaroo, but said the 3-year-old filly most likely will spend the winter in New York running in stakes.
Pretty Wild staying in allowance ranks
Trainer Stanley Hough said that Pretty Wild, who finished fourth as the favorite in a second-level allowance race here on Saturday, would be pointed to another allowance at Aqueduct.
On Saturday, Pretty Wild was making his third start following an extended layoff to recover from surgery for the removal of a knee chip. In his first two starts, Pretty Wild won a Saratoga allowance race and was third in the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap.
"I thought he would run better," Hough said of Saturday's race. "Maybe that first race off the layoff took off more than he showed. We'll go back to another allowance race, where I would like to try to stretch him out."
Last year, Pretty Wild finished second in a pair of Grade 1 races, the Futurity and the Hopeful.
- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson