Trainer Bobby Frankel's barn is so full of talent leading up the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships that he can just move contenders from division to division, not only best suiting the horses' talents but also maximizing his chances for victory.
And so the California-based Brooklyn native announced after winning Saturday's Arlington Million with Beat Hollow that Beat Hollow will start not in the $2 million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf, but rather will point to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Mile.
This year's Championships will be run Oct. 26 at Arlington Park near Chicago.
"I think he's a little too keen to go a mile and a half," Frankel said Sunday from his Saratoga base. "A mile and an eighth is his best distance. But a mile is going to be very good, too. He's got a lot more speed than people realize."
Instead of Beat Hollow, Frankel said, he will send Sword Dancer runner-up Denon to the 1 ½-mile Turf. "He likes a little cut in the ground," Frankel said of Denon. "When I first got him, I never thought he would run as well on firm turf as he has his last two starts."
The 20th running of the Million produced one of its most exciting finishes. At the end, Jerry Bailey got Beat Hollow past pace-setting Forbidden Apple a sixteenth from the wire and just held off Sarafan's late run to win by a head. Forbidden Apple was a nose farther back in third, with English hurdles specialist Ulundi only another head back in fourth, Falcon Flight a nose behind him in fifth and German invader Paolini a neck back of him in sixth.
Any of the six could have won and Falcon Flight and Paolini, especially, were the victims of mid-stretch traffic jams.
"I was a little concerned when I got hung three wide into the first turn but I didn't want to use him that early in the race to get position," Bailey said of Beat Hollow. "Luckily for me, (pace factor) Mystery Giver backed out of it and I as able to draft to the outside."
Andre Suborics, who rode Paolini, said he "got within a length of the winner and had no place to go. I couldn't jump over them." Ulundi, who might have jumped over something, didn't need to as he made a run on the outside. "Two more strides and we might have won," said his rider, Richard Hughes.
Rene Douglas, aboard Falcon Flight, said, "I had nowhere to go. I was looking for any kind of move. I was hoping to go through everyone."
While Frankel moves Beat Hollow to the Mile, he will have to consider what to do with his other winner in Saturday's International Festival of Racing at Arlington. Chiselling, a son of Woodman, caught Jazz Beat in the final strides with a perfectly timed ride by Kent Desormeaux to win the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds by a nose. Extra Check, who led the way, held on for third.
Chiselling got the 1 ¼-mile distance in 2:04.16, just a tad slower than the 2:04.16 Beat Hollow needed in the Million.
Desormeaux said he can't see why Chiselling couldn't run in the Turf. "If he stays at this rate of improvement, and given how he loves to go long, I can't sit here and tell you he doesn't deserve a shot in that race," he said.
Going into the weekend's racing, Frankel already had three of the 10 top-rated contenders in the Classic division in Medaglia d'Oro, Lido Palace and Milwaukee Brew; two of the top 10 in the Turf division in Beat Hollow and Denon; and the No. 1-ranked contender in the Sprint division in Squirtle Squirt (tied with Xtra Heat). By moving Beat Hollow into the Mile, he is likely to have at least one horse in the top 10 in each of four divisions.
Losing out through the switch are those who bet on Beat Hollow to win the Turf in the Breeders' Cup WTC Future Bet. In Period 2, Beat Hollow was 5-1 to win the Turf, with $5,175 bet on him.
Frankel, of course, remains due in the Breeders' Cup Championship races. From 42 starters, he has exactly one winner -- Squirtle Squirt in last year's Sprint.
In other races with implications for the Oct. 26 championships at beautiful Arlington Park:
$1 million Mile (turf)
Frankel's barn struck in California, too, on Saturday. Inesperado, a French-bred colt by Zayyani, got past pari-mutuel favorite Regiment to win the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds by 1 ½ lengths. Mountain Rage was third. With Eddie Delahoussaye up, Inesperado ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:43 4/5. "Bobby won a couple in the Midwest and he won one in the west," said Delahoussaye. "I'm just glad I got to fide the one in the west."
$1 million Filly and Mare Turf
All four top finishers from Saturday's $700,000 Beverly D. at Arlington Park are likely to return for the Championship event on Oct. 26. Golden Apples won the Beverly D. in classic fashion, moving toward pace-setting England's Legend in mid-stretch, gaining command a sixteenth out an then holding off Astra to win by ¾ length. England's Legend held third and Volga was fourth. Golden Apples "ran pretty easy and had more kick than anybody else," said winning rider Patrick Valenzuela. The Filly and Mare Turf, however, might depend on the state of the Arlington turf course in late October. "I wouldn't want any more give in the ground than there was today (officially firm)," said Astra's trainer, Laura de Seroux. But Christophe Clement, who trains both England's Legend and Volga, said, "I will meet them again in the fall on softer ground and we might have a different result." Winning trainer Ben Cecil could afford to think about his filly rather than the grass. "I've always thought we had the best grass filly in the country and now she's proven it," he said.
Wonder Again rolled by Miss Marcia turning for home in Sunday's $150,000 Lake Placid Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, then repelled a late bid by Riskaverse to win by 2 ¼ lengths. Miss Marcia held third and the favorite, Kirtle, could do no better than fourth. Wonder Again, a daughter of Silver Hawk, needed 1:49.24 for the 9 furlongs on yielding turf. "She has a lot of class and ability," said winning rider Edgar Prado. Trainer Jimmy Toner said his goal is the Oct. 12 Queen Elizabeth at Keeneland.
Defending Filly and Mare Turf champ Banks Hill was well within herself in winning Sunday's Group 1 Prix Jacque le Marois at Deauville in France. Domedriver was about two lengths back at the finish, with Godolphin's Best of the Bests third.
$4 million Classic
Cat's At Home scored a major upset in Sunday's $350,000 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, rating kindly on the lead and holding off Bowman's Band by ¾ length at the end. Runspastum completed a $672.60 trifecta, swelled by the next-to-last finish of heavy favorite Include, who never ran a lick. Cat's At Home, a 5-year-old son of Tabasco Cat, finished the 9 furlongs in 1:49.10. "No one pressured me, so I was able to set the pace the way I wanted," said winning rider Jose Velez Jr. Jerry Bailey, who rode Include, wasn't talking. "No comment," he said. "You can ask me any question you want and I'll say, 'No.'"
--At Saratoga on Saturday, Evening Attire closed stoutly in the stretch to collar pace-setting Abreeze and win the $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap by 1 ½ lengths. The 4-year-old son of Black Tie Affair ran 1 ¼ mile in 2:02.95 on a "good" track. The favorite, Dollar Bill, was far back in third. "He's very good at the longer distances," said winning trainer Patrick Kelly. "The mile and a quarter was a big factor today. And there's a race in a couple of month from now at a mile and a quarter in Chicago. We'll consider whatever options are out there." Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Abreeze might try the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park for his next start.
$2 million Distaff
Kentucky Oaks winner Farda Amiga returned to the races for the first time since her Churchill Downs triumph -- and promptly won Saturday's $750,000 Alabama at Saratoga, arguably the second-most-important event of the year after the Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. With Pat Day up, Farda Amiga caught pace-setting Allamerican Bertie in deep stretch to win by ¾ length. The favorite, You, tried hard but couldn't get to the leaders over a drying-out track rated as "good." Farda Amiga, a daughter of Broad Brush, ran the 1 ¼ mile off the long layoff in 2:04.68. "Our major goal now is the Breeders' Cup," said winning trainer Paulo Lobo. "I think the farther she goes, the better. She was bred for the distance." Lobo laid the filly up after the Oaks because of a high white-cell count in her blood work. Bella Belluci was scratched from the Alabama at mid-afternoon because trainer Neil Drysdale was uncomfortable with the track condition. You's trainer, Bobby Frankel, said his filly is done for the year. "She's fine but she's through for the year," he said Sunday. "I'm not going to go to the Breeders' Cup with her."
--At Monmouth Park on Saturday, Magic Storm upset the $250,000 Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks, running down Alternate in the late going to score by ½ length. Bronze Autumn was third. "This filly has run some nice races in the past," said winning jockey Eddie King Jr. "She has a lot of talent but she hasn't been able to put it together yet." The daughter of Storm Cat, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, finished 9 furlongs in 1:51.
$1 million Sprint
Disturbingthepeace scored his sixth straight win, including both top sprint events at Del Mar, by besting Hot Market after a race-long duel in Sunday's $150,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap. The son of Bold Badgett, trained by Darrell Vienna, earlier won the Bing Crosby at the seaside track. Only three other horses have swept the two events. I Love Silver made a move toward the leaders as the field turned for home in the Pat O'Brien but flattened out and settled for third. The 7 furlongs took 1:21 4/5.
$1 million Juvenile
Zavata had trainer Patrick Biancone smelling roses after Wednesday's $150,000 Saratoga Special. The Phone Trick colt rated behind the early runners, then took total control in the stretch drive to win by 7 ¼ lengths, finishing 6 ½ furlongs in 1:17.65. Lone Star Sky was second after experiencing traffic trouble on the turn and Spite the Devil third. "He is just so much superior at this stage for the competition," said Biancone. "I know it is a long time to the Kentucky Derby but, hopefully, he can stay sound and he will stay like that as long as possible."
--At Ellis Park on Saturday, Private Gold got the lead a furlong from home in Saturday's $100,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile and went on to win by 1 ¼ lengths over Echeverria. Captain Amour was third. Winning for the second straight time, Private Gold is trained by Patrick Byrne.
--And at Woodbine on Sunday, Wando remained undefeated in two starts, winning the $150,000 Vandal Stakes by 7 ¾ lengths over Snake Pit. The son of Langfuhr ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.90. "He's a beautiful moving horse and he looks like a 3-year-old rather than a 2-year-old," said winning rider Richard Dos Ramos.
$1 million Long John Silver's Juvenile Fillies
Awesome Hunter led almost all the way to a 1 ¼-length score over Stellar in Monday's $150,000 Adirondack at Saratoga. The Distorted Humor filly, with Pat Day aboard, ran 6 ½ furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.75. "We've got championship on our mind," said winning trainer Elliott Walden. He said the Spinaway at the Spa on Aug. 30 or the Matron at Belmont on Sept. 15 might be a next step. Trainer Patrick Biancone said Stellar is headed for the Spinaway. "These are babies and next time is next time," he said.
--Ruby's Reception, a $12,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland, ripped off a 7 ¾-length victory in Saturday's $100,000 Anna M. Fisher Debutante Stakes at Ellis Park. The gray Rubiano filly now has won three of her four starts, the only blemish being a third-place finish in the Prairie MeadowsGold Juvenile. "We've already turned down $250,000 for Ruby's Reception," said winning trainer Larry Jones. "I would imagine the price will go a lot higher now. She did it very easily."
In other racing:
Textbook Method was headed by Shopping for Love halfway through Friday's $75,000 Yaddo Handicap, but regained control and drew off to win by 4 ½ lengths. Indy Mood for Luv was along late to finish second, with Shopping for Love third. Textbook Method, a 4-year-old Mr. Greeley filly, ran 9 furlongs in 1:51.42. The race came off the turf.
Erica's Smile, stretching out for the first time in her career, upset favorite Lasting Code in Sunday's $100,000 Washington Breeders' Cup Oaks. Erica's Smile broke running, took the lead and battled through most of the 9 furlongs with Lasting Code before just winning. "It was a big jump from 6 furlongs to 1 1/8 mile," said winning trainer Jeff Bonde. "We worked really hard to harness her speed." Jockey Roberto Gonzalez said he was worried turning for home. "But in the middle of the stretch, the favorite got tired and we just kept going."
Zone Judge came from off the pace under a well-judged ride by Constant Montpellier to win Saturday's $150,000 Play the King Stakes by 2 lengths over Waltzin' Storm. Gone Fishin was third. Zone Judge, a son of Judge T C, finished 7 furlongs on the E.P. Taylor turf course in 1:20.42, just 1/5 of a second off the course record. "When I chirped at him, he just took off," said Montpellier.
Also Saturday, Sky Chariot picked up his second straight win, besting Sam-Son Farm stablemate Follow the Piper, in the $100,000 With Approval Stakes. The son of Sky Classic ran 9 furlongs on the turf in 1:47.30.
Calder Race Course
Tour of the Cat repulsed a late bid by Built Up and hung on to win Saturday's $75,000 Groomstick Handicap by ½ length. Groomstick Stock's was third as the favorite. Tour of the Cat, a 4-year-old son of Tour d'Or, got the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.99 under Abad Cabassa Jr. "He had the look today in his eye," said winning trainer Myra Mora. "I knew he wasn't going to let that horse by him." Mora said there are no specific plans for Tour of the Cat other than to keep him sprinting.
Make the Bend came from last in a field of six, nearly 25 lengths behind the leader, to win Saturday's $75,000 Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 length over Mazoolian Ghost. Boca Flyer was third. "I was thinking that the pace-setter had to be either a great horse or he was coming back to me," said winning rider Brent Bartram. Make the Bend, a son of Fastness, finished the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:54.88.
City Sharpster was sharp enough Saturday to win the $100,000 Larry R. Riviello President's Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds by 8 ¾ lengths over Trump Marina. Foolish Gamble was third while favorite Saratoga Blues faded badly and was eased. City Sharpster, a son of Carson City with Tony Black up, ran 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:42.05.
Night Caller rallied past pace-setting True Passion and went on to win Saturday's $75,000 DonaldLeVine Stakes by 1 length. Ticket to Freedom was second and Sea of Green was third. Night Caller, a 6-year-old son of Phone Trick, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.80.
Compendium got home first by a neck in Saturday's $75,000 Evangeline Mile Handicap only to be DQ'ed and placed second for bumping rival Oak Hall in the stretch run. Oak Hall was elevated to first. L.A. Spider Legs was a distant third. Oak Hall is a 6-year-old, Louisiana-bred gelding by Olympio. The race went in 1:39.
Supposedly closed on the front-runners a furlong out in Saturday's $60,000 Pearl Necklace Stakes and went on to win by 2 ½ lengths over Quoit Quick. No Halos Here was third. Supposedly, a daughter of Polish Numbers, ran the 1 1/16 mile on the green course in 1:42.97, picking up her first stakes victory. Assistant trainer Alberto Torres said the filly is destined for the Maryland Million festivities on Sept. 21.
Sunday, Ghostly Numbers scored a front-running win in the $50,000 Mister Diz Stakes for Maryland-breds. Ghostly Numbers, with Mario Pino aboard, ran the 5 ½ furlongs on the grass in 1:03. Access Agenda was a head back in second with a late rush.
Delray Dew got an easy lead in Saturday's $50,000 Central Iowa Stakes and went on to win by 3 ½ lengths over Sharky's Review. Persimmon Ridge was third. Delray Dew, a 4-year-old daughter of Devil His Due, finished in 1:43 1/5. "She got the easy lead, got the half in 47 (seconds). That helped," said winning trainer Dick Clark.
Due to Win came from off the pace to win Saturday's $50,000 Sangue Handicap over her younger half-sister, Due To Win Again. Wild Squaw led the way before fading to finish third. Due to Win finished in 1:44.61 over a turf course rated "good." "I think at the distance, Due to Win is a little better," said Edward Ruiz, who trains both. "But at a mile, I don't think she could beat Due to Win Again."
Sunday, That Tat beat Honor Me by a neck in the $40,000 Folklore Handicap. Unrullah Bull was third. Honor Me led early but gave way to the winner in the final strides. The 6 ½ furlongs went in 1:15.95.
Bay Meadows Fair
A B Noodle dueled down the stretch with Lindsay Jean in Saturday's $40,000 Lady Morvich Handicap before prevailing by a head. Monrow was third, 2 lengths farther back. A B Noodle, an aptly named daughter of Alphabet Soup, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:43.06. "This filly does everything right," said winning trainer Chuck Jenda, who is pointing the 3-year-old to the $60,000 Carmel Handicap on Sept. 14.
Ninebanks outfinished Suspicious Minds to win Sunday's $40,000 San Matean Handicap by 1 ½ lengths. Pace-setting Dr. Park held on to take third-place money. NInebanks, a 4-year-old Smokester colt, ran 1 1/16 mile on firm turf in 1:42.10 under Ron Warren Jr.