Byline: Mike Farrell
SO The Record, Northern New Jersey (REC)
Edition: All Editions.=.Four Star B. Three Star P. Two star One Star
LP THE $1 MILLION SPRINT (six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up) The Sprint is the first Breeders^ Cup race of the day and shapes up as a wide-open contest. Each year, it is a very difficult race to handicap. At only three-quarters of a mile, the best horse doesn't always get the job done. Any spot of trouble, like a slow break from the gate, is deadly. There just isn't time to recover. "I think our race will be the best betting race on the card," said trainer Alan Goldberg, who sends out Safely Kept.
TX The favorite, On The Line, was rated a lukewarm 7-2 choice in the field of 14. On The Line is the first of a parade of 11 D. Wayne Lukas-trained entrants in the BC. Lukas owns a record nine BC victories including three last year, but he'll need a heaping helping of luck to win this race. On The Line was a very dull fifth in the Oct. 21 NYRA Mile at Aqueduct. The shorter distance might help. With a vulnerable favorite, price handicappers can go on a shopping spree. There will be a number of viable contenders going postward at tempting prices. The New Jersey-bred Sewickley is razor sharp and is a very generous 6-1. He's won two of his last three and was beaten by a nose in the NYRA Mile. His trainer, Scotty Schulhofer, has a strong track record in this event having won with Smile in 1986. Dispersal, the NYRA Mile winner, is also a good price at 8-1. Also worth a look is Safely Kept, the only filly in the race. She dominated her own sex this year with an 8-for-8 mark. It will be Safely Kept's first try against the colts, but if you think she's up to the challenge, the oddsmaker predicts a 6-1 return. There is a strong Meadowlands Racetrack flavor to the Sprint. Norquestor, winner of the Pegasus Handicap Sept. 22 at the Big M, is 20-1 with Julie Krone aboard. Flourescent Gem, another New Jersey-bred, is a two-time Big M winner this fall and has the services of Jorge Chavez. Krone and Chavez rank No. 1 and No. 3, respectively in Big M rider standings. THE $1 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES (1 miles for 2-year-olds) _ As usual, Lukas figures to dominate. Last year, he swept the board, finishing in the top three spots with Open Mind, Darby Shuffle, and Lea Lucinda. This time, Lukas sends out three more: Stella Madrid, the 5-2 favorite; Special Happening, and Voodoo Lilly. With separate ownerships, they will run uncoupled in the wagering. Stella Madrid is the one to beat on the basis of three straight Grade I victories coming into the race. Trumpet's Blare could attract some betting attention. Listed at 6-1, the huge filly is being cautiously prepared for the race by Jimmy Croll of Bet Twice fame. Croll is convinced that she's a natural distance horse and the mile and a sixteenth distance around two turns will be an advantage. THE $1 MILLION DISTAFF (1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds and up) _ Lukas holds three aces, but Ron McAnally has the trump card. The Lukas trio of Open Mind, Winning Colors, and Wonders Delight demands respect, but Bayakoa is the clear-cut leader of the division. McAnally, who developed the legendary John Henry, has the 5-year-old Argentina-bred mare at the top of her game. Bayakoa has won 8-of-10 starts and chalked up six Grade I victories this year. "She's a bit of a basket case," McAnally said. "She needs to be pampered. She likes to stand on the track for 10 minutes before she gallops. John was the same way." Bayakoa is the 6-5 favorite with the Lukas entry next at 5-2. The best Lukas hope rests with Open Mind, the greatest New Jersey-bred of all time. She won the Juvenile Filly last year and swept through the Filly Triple Crown this year. One of racing's most dynamic closers, Open Mind lacked her patented punch in her last two starts and might be tailing off after a very arduous campaign. Winning Colors is a shell of her former self. She has won only two of 11 starts since her front-running victory in the 1988 Kentucky Derby. The possibility exists that Winning Colors^ role will be that of a sacrificial pace-setting rabbit. "It would be virtually unheard of to use a Kentucky Derby winner as a rabbit," McAnally said. "But he [Lukas! hopes to set it up for Open Mind." THE $1 MILLION MILE (for 3-year-olds and up on turf) _ An oddity this year in that the field for the Mile is considered much stronger than the $2 million Turf. The presence of Zilzal makes this race special. Considered the finest miler in Europe, Zilzal is the 9-5 favorite. Unbeaten in five starts this year in England, Zilzal is an extremely high-strung colt who breaks out in a lathery sweat before each race. That's normally a sign of distress, but it doesn't seem to hamper the 3-year-old. THE $1 MILLION JUVENILE (1 miles for 2-year-olds) _ Always an interesting race as a preview of next year's Triple Crown contenders. Unfortunately, injuries to several of the top 2-year-olds, including Summer Squall and Red Ransom, robbed this year's Juvenile of the cream of the crop. Shug McGaughey, Easy Goer's trainer, sends out the talented duo of Adjudicating and Rhythm, the 5-2 favorites. They finished a neck apart in the Grade I Champaign on Oct.14 at Belmont. Lukas hopes for a fourth consecutive Juvenile victory rest with Grand Canyon, a colt he's called "perhaps the best 2-year-old I ever had." A winner of two of five starts, Grand Canyon is the 4-1 second choice. THE $2 MILLION TURF (1 1/2 miles for 3-year-olds and up) _ This is usually a European showcase event and the foreigners should dominate again in this very poor year for American grass specialists. The inconistent El Senor is 3-1 favorite. Herb McCauley, the all-time riding leader at the Big M, will be in the irons. * Behera, owned and bred by the Aga Khan, will be making her American debut and is the 4-1 second choice. THE $3 MILLION CLASSIC (1 1/4 miles for 3-year-olds and up) _ The Breeders^ Cup traditionally saves the best for last. This year's Classic features Easy Goer vs. Sunday Silence with Horse of the Year honors at stake. Historically, the Classic has been one of the most contentious of the seven BC races. Considering the presence of such standout winners as Alysheba and Ferdinand, the widest margin in the five previous runnings has been only a length and a quarter. The prospects for another tight finish are excellent. Easy Goe and Sunday Silence hit the wire nostrils apart in the Preakness. That was the only time in their three meetings they competed at a distance comparable to the Classic over a dry track. The oddsmaker also expects a close contest with Easy Goer the 6-5 favorite and Sunday Silence rated next at 2-1. It's hard to see any of the other six horses in the Classic pulling off an upset. A number of trainers have rated Present Value, 6-1, as a possible contender. After running a dismal seventh in the Aug.26 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, the 5-year-old horse bounced back to win a pair of Grade III Handicaps at Santa Anita. "I'd be very careful about writing off a horse like Present Value," said rival trainer Lukas. "He's a horse coming into the race very well." Lukas will be represented in the Classic by Slew City Slew, one of three outsiders in the Classic who last raced in the Oct. 13 Meadowlands Cup at The Meadowlands Racetrack. Neither Slew City Slew, Mi Selecto, the Meadowlands Cup winner, or Blushing John look capable of challenging Easy Goer or Sunday Silence. "Those two horses are definately the class of the handicap division and it should turn out that way," Lukas admitted. The selection here is Easy Goer. He's in peak form, carrying a string of five straight Grade I victories into the Classic. The chestnut colt should collar Sunday Silence in the stretch and even their series at two victories each.
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