09/28/2008 11:00PM

Zanjero's BC flight booked


FLORENCE, Ky. - Zanjero, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 and a berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile with his 1 1/2-length triumph Saturday in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park, will be flown next Monday to Santa Anita, said trainer Steve Asmussen.

Although Asmussen was otherwise occupied with Curlin, who was just a few minutes away from becoming the all-time North American earnings leader by winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, Asmussen was able to sneak a peek at the Turfway simulcast.

"I did get to see it,"said Asmussen. "That horse ran great."

Ron Winchell, whose family owns Zanjero, accepted the winner's trophy at Turfway and confirmed afterward that the BC Dirt Mile Oct. 25 at Santa Anita will be next for the 4-year-old colt.

Clearly the disappointments in the KC Classic were Honest Man and Stream Cat, the 8-5 co-favorites. Honest Man set an unhurried pace before fading to fourth, while Stream Cat never appeared very comfortable before finishing last of six.

Baker's duo quite impressive

Reade Baker hardly could have scripted a better day. The 61-year-old Canadian trainer soon will head off to the Breeders' Cup from his Woodbine base with a couple of viable contenders in Fatal Bullet for the Sprint and Bear Now for the Ladies' Classic.

Both horses were sensational Saturday at Turfway. Fatal Bullet earned an eye-popping Beyer Figure of 108 with his track-record victory in the KC Sprint, while Bear Now, the easiest kind of winner in the KC Distaff, got a 93 Beyer.

Fatal Bullet, said Baker, "is just an amazing kind of horse," as reflected in his 7 for 8 record on synthetic surfaces.

Bear Now, 10 for 20 lifetime overall, "is very good on the Poly, but I really think the best race she ever ran was on the dirt, when she won the Cotillion last fall at Philadelphia Park," said Baker.

Fatal Bullet and Bear Now are both owned by the Bear Stables of Danny Dion. Baker said he and Dion initially had agreed to send the two to California on the latest possible flight from Toronto, "but it's possible we might go earlier now."

Bigwigs all smiles

Keeneland's president, Nick Nicholson, spent much of Saturday watching the Kentucky Cup races near the winner's circle alongside Turfway's president, Bob Elliston. Both were nearly bursting with pride: Elliston because with all five of the Kentucky Cup races being run over Polytrack, the series was very meaningful toward the Breeders' Cup, where most of the championship races will be run Oct. 24-25 over the synthetic Pro-Ride surface, and Nicholson because more of the same should be on tap this coming weekend at Keeneland.

"It's really gratifying to see it all come together like it did," said Elliston. "Obviously it helps a lot that trainers wanted to get Polytrack races into their horses before they head out West. One good thing is we'll be here again next year to do the same thing," with the Breeders' Cup headed back to Santa Anita in 2009.

The other two Kentucky Cup winners, Sugar Mom (80 Beyer) in the KC Juvenile Fillies and West Side Bernie (85 Beyer) in the KC Juvenile, also appear headed to their respective divisional races at the Breeders' Cup.

At Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., the 17-day fall meet begins Friday with the annual FallStars weekend. Nine stakes, five of them Grade 1, will be run during the first three days.

Perfect Drift celebrated

Perfect Drift went out the right way Saturday. The 9-year-old gelding was showered with gifts from Turfway and deep appreciation from his many fans before serving in a ceremonial role as post-parade leader for the KC Classic.

In a winner's circle presentation, Turfway officials gave framed photo collages to the gelding's connections, breeder-owner William A. Reed and longtime trainer Murray Johnson, and also gave Perfect Drift a bushel basket filled with apples, carrots, and mints.

Perfect Drift was recently retired after earning more than $4.7 million in a career that included two key victories at Turfway in the 2002 Lane's End Spiral and the 2003 KC Classic.

* Turfway will end its 22-day meet just the way that horseplayers want it - with huge fields. A 10-race Wednesday card has a whopping 123 entries, including six also-eligibles, while a 10-race closing-night card on Thursday drew 114 entries with six also-eligibles.