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PREPPING FOR BREEDERS' CUP PREPS.

Byline: KEVIN MODESTI Horse Racing

Tiznow's owner and trainer have been trying to choose between the Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 7 and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park a day earlier as a steppingstone to a Breeders' Cup Classic title defense at Belmont on Oct. 27. Here's a factor they might consider:

In 17 runnings of the Classic - main event of the eight-race Breeders' Cup program - horses who prepped at California tracks have won five times and horses who prepped at New York-area tracks have won five times. It's a toss-up as far as that goes.

But California-prepped horses have proved far more reliable than their New York-prepped opponents. Ferdinand warmed up in the Goodwood, started as the favorite in the 1987 Classic at Hollywood Park and won. He's the only California-prepped horse to be favored in the Classic. By contrast, 16 horses have warmed up in New York races and gone into the gate as favorites in the Classic - and an embarrassing total of 12 of those have suffered upsets. The disappointments include Skip Away, Behrens and Fusaichi Pegasus the past three years.

For whatever reason, Classic horses seem to come out of New York underprepared for battle and overrated by bettors.

You'd think there'd be an advantage in prepping at Belmont when the Breeders' Cup will be held at Belmont. Yet only Cigar did that and won the Classic (in 1995). Proud Truth prepped across town at Aqueduct before his Classic victory (1985) - while Belmont-produced favorite Chief's Crown ran fourth. Unbridled tuned up at the Super Derby in Louisiana before winning the other Classic held at Belmont (1990) - while Belmont-produced favorite Rhythm was eighth.

Nothing above says Tiznow definitely shouldn't head back east for the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Then again, nothing says he should.

Even if Tiznow owner Michael Cooper and trainer Jay Robbins don't pay attention to this history lesson, then handicappers ought to.

Although almost all of the major-track stakes races the next two weekends will be advertised as Breeders' Cup preps, few have earned the description by producing reliable contenders over the years. Santa Anita will run eight graded stakes, Belmont nine in this window three and four weeks before the Breeders' Cup. Here are the U.S. preps that experience suggests fans should pay the most attention to:

--Classic - Goodwood, Jockey Club Gold Cup and last Saturday's Super Derby at Louisiana Downs (won by Outofthebox).

The Goodwood's quality depends on Tiznow's decision, which is expected to be made after weight assignments are announced early next week. The Gold Cup looks like the tougher spot this year, with Classic contenders Albert the Great and Aptitude among those likely to run a week from Saturday. The Super Derby has sprung three Classic winners - Sunday Silence (1989), Unbridled (1990) and Concern (1994).

--Juvenile - Norfolk Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday; Champagne Stakes, Belmont, Oct. 6; Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, Keeneland, Oct. 6.

California has produced five winners and only one beaten favorite in the 2-year-old males race. The Norfolk got more interesting when unbeaten Came Home and jockey Chris McCarron drew the tricky No. 1 post in a field of eight for the 1-mile race.

--Juvenile Fillies - Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes, Keeneland, Oct. 5, and Frizette Stakes, Belmont, Oct. 6.

Kentucky has produced six winners (one beaten favorite), New York seven (five), California three (three) in the 2-year-old females race. The Alcibiades is coming up lighter than usual. The Frizette should have You, Cashier's Dream and Bella Bellucci. The division's big race this weekend is Sunday's Oak Leaf at Santa Anita (Habibti, Ayanna).

--Turf - Turf Classic, Belmont, Saturday.

Always-close King Cugat heads the eight-horse field that will run the 1 1/2-mile course that will host the Turf. Opponents include Bobby Frankel- trained Timboroa. Frankel also has Senure in Sunday's Clement Hirsch Memorial at Santa Anita.

--Mile - Oak Tree Mile, Santa Anita, Oct. 7, and Kelso Handicap, Belmont, Oct. 6.

European horses dominate the results of the Breeders' Cup's shorter turf race, but California has starred the past two years with Silic ($16.40) and War Chant ($9) going from the Oak Tree Mile to glory.

--Fillies & Mares Turf - Yellow Ribbon Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday, and Flower Bowl Invitational, Belmont, Saturday.

Tranquility Lake attempts to be the Yellow Ribbon's first repeat winner when she faces seven. Frankel-trained Starine faces Lailani in the Flower Bowl.

--Distaff - Overbrook Spinster Stakes, Keeneland, Oct. 7.

Nine winners of the main-track race for fillies and mares prepped in Kentucky, the highest geographical concentration in any Breeders' Cup division. Beautiful Pleasure and Pompeii are aiming for the Spinster. Frankel's exciting 3-year-old filly Flute is aiming for an early meeting with elders Gourmet Girl and Serra Lake in the Beldame at Belmont on Oct. 6.

--Sprint - Ancient Title Handicap, Santa Anita, Oct. 6, and Vosburgh Stakes, Belmont, last Saturday (won by Left Bank).

Kona Gold last year became the seventh Ancient Title graduate to win the Sprint (while only three have been favored and lost), and he'll try to follow the same pattern this year. The 7-furlong Vosburgh has produced seven Sprint winners - but also nine beaten favorites.

Breeders' Cup preps will be televised Saturday (including the Norfolk) at 5 p.m. on CNBC; Oct. 6 (Champagne, Lane's End Futurity) at 1 p.m. on CNBC, and Oct. 7 (including the Goodwood, Oak Tree Mile and Spinster) at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

OUT OF THE GATE

FAIRPLEX STANDINGS

Final

Jockeys Wins

Martin Pedroza 29

Tyler Baze 24

Matt Garcia 23

Isaias Enriquez 13

Goncalino Almeida 12

Trainers Wins

Jeff Mullins 11

Paul Aguirre 8

Barry Abrams 7

Juan Garcia 6

Craig Lewis 6

Doug O'Neill 6

PINCAY WATCH

Laffit Pincay pledged his earnings from Wednesday's opening Oak Tree races to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Pincay will donate $1,845 after winning the eighth race aboard Love Lane to extend his record career-victories total to 9,217.

THE STAKES SCHEDULE

Santa Anita

Today

--$100,000 California Sires Stakes, 2-year-old fillies bred in California, 7 furlongs.

Saturday

--$500,000 Yellow Ribbon, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/4 miles on turf

--$250,000 Norfolk, 2-year-olds, 1 mile

--$150,000 Lady's Secret Handicap, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles.

Sunday

--$300,000 Clement Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/4 miles on turf

--$250,000 Oak Leaf, 2-year-old fillies, 1 mile.

Belmont Park

Saturday

--$750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/4 miles on turf

Sunday

--$750,000 Turf Classic Invitational, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/2 miles on turf

Woodbine

Sunday

--$1.5 million Canadian International, 3-year-olds and up 1 1/2 miles on turf

Thistledown

Saturday

--$300,000 Ohio Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles

MILESTONES

Nobody hit the pick-six in the first two days of the Oak Tree meet, leaving a $364,237 carryover for today's 1 p.m. card. A pool of more than $1 million is projected. ... Martin Pedroza won his fourth jockey title at the Fairplex Park meet that ended Monday, and Jeff Mullins won his second trainer title. Pedroza, the winningest rider in Los Angeles County Fair history, padded his total in Pomona to 322 victories. ... Fairplex business held steady, with a 2 percent downturn in wagering, not bad considering the Sept. 11 card was canceled and the Sept. 12 betting from out of state was minimal. ... Popular California sprinter Big Jag had to be euthanized in Dubai, never having recovered from a sesamoid fracture suffered in February as he tried to defend his title in a race called the Golden Shaheen. Tim Pinfield-trained Big Jag won 13 of 30 starts and earned $1.8 million. ... Macho Uno, who had a minor case of colic a few days ago, heads the Ohio Derby, with Gary Stevens riding. ... The California Horse Racing Board approved 15 proposed regulations for public notice, another step toward the beginning of account wagering in January.

- Kevin Modesti

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

no caption (Laffit Pincay)

Box: OUT OF THE GATE (see text)
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 28, 2001
Words:1352
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