Ginger Punch likely to race in '08
OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- Ginger Punch, winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff and leading contender for an Eclipse Award in the older filly and mare division, will most likely remain in training next year, her connections said Wednesday.
"As long as she's doing well, we'll probably keep her in training," Dan Hall, bloodstock consultant for owner Frank Stronach, said Wednesday. "That's the way we're leaning right now."
Ginger Punch is currently stabled at Belmont Park, but will soon be leaving for Southern California where she will join trainer Bobby Frankel's Hollywood Park barn. Frankel had previously said that if Ginger Punch remains in training her first objective next year would be the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff, to be run at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26. The Sunshine Millions, a brainchild of Stronach's, pits Florida-breds against California-breds in a series of eight races run on the same day at Gulfstream and Santa Anita.
Ginger Punch's victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff capped off a season in which she won the Go for Wand and Ruffian - both Grade 1 events - as well as the Grade 2 First Flight Handicap.
Ginger Punch, a 4-year-old daughter of 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, has won 7 of 14 career starts and earned $1,901,679.
Royal Highness heads Long Island
The Grade 1 winner Royal Highness, who will be retired at year's end, will look to cap her career on a winning note in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct. She finished second in this race last year.
Royal Highness won the Grade 1 Beverly D. on Aug. 11 at Arlington Park, a victory that guaranteed her a spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. But her connections were never really contemplating that race - she would have had to supplement for a fee of $180,000 - and instead were pointing to the $2 million E.P. Taylor at Woodbine on Oct. 21.
Royal Highness, however, came out of a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont a little sore, according to trainer Christophe Clement.
"Just now, in the last week or 10 days, she started training as well as she should,'' Clement said.
Javier Castellano will ride Royal Highness, who will be the 122-pound highweight.
Clement said that he will also start Green Girl in the Long Island. Green Girl, a 5-year-old French-bred, comes out of a sixth-place finish against males in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational. She was trained by John Hammond for that race.
"She's done very well since she's been with us," Clement said. "We stood her a lot in the gate because she was bad at the gate Turf Classic Day. She's training very well - she looks great."
Green Girl gets in with 115 pounds. Others expected to run in the Long Island are Pictavia, Rising Cross, Dalvina, Miracle Moment, My Rachel, and Mary Louhana.
Gio Ponti may head to Generous
Clement hopes that his two Long Island fillies get better trips than his 2-year-old Gio Ponti received in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last Friday at Monmouth. Gio Ponti was blocked behind a wall of horses through most of the stretch and finished eighth, beaten four lengths by Nownownow, a horse Gio Ponti had defeated in the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland earlier in the month.
"You look at the replay - everybody's all out and it's soft turf," Clement said. "You see my horse, he's on the bridle. You see Ramon [Dominguez], he's looking left, right, and he keeps on looking, but he's got nowhere to go. Usually in a stakes you got a wall of two or three horses. There was a wall of eight horses."
Clement said Gio Ponti came out of the race in good order and may be sent to Southern California to run in the Grade 3, $100,000 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23. While Clement said Gio Ponti would not remain in Southern California, he is planning to ship several horses out West for the winter.
Meribel and Naissance Royale shipped to California on Wednesday for Sunday's $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap at Hollywood Park. Soon to head West are Vacare, In Summation, and Quietly Mine.
On Wednesday, In Summation worked four furlongs in 49.14 seconds over Belmont Park's main track. In Summation could run in either the $100,000 Underwood Stakes on Cushion Track on Dec. 2 or the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express on Nov. 23.
Pletcher zeroing in on own mark
Despite missing the first 41 days of the year because of a suspension, trainer Todd Pletcher is very likely to eclipse his own record for earnings in a single year.
Before Wednesday, Pletcher's purse earnings for 2007 were $26,219,940, a figure that includes $460,000 earned by Friendly Island and Bishop Court Hill in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night. That's $600,303 shy of his record $26,820,243 set last year.
"I would hope with a little bit of luck in the next two months we should be able to do it," Pletcher said.
While Pletcher said he most likely will not have a horse to run in the $350,000 Cigar Mile - this circuit's last big-purse stakes of the year - he will be represented in several big stakes at Churchill Downs and Hollywood Park this fall. Wait a While, who was scratched out of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, is targeting the $500,000 Matriarch at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25. Panty Raid, winner of the Spinster, is likely to run in the $300,000 Falls City at Churchill on Nov. 22.
Chatain works toward Cigar Mile
Chatain, who scratched out of Saturday's Sport Page Handicap because of the sloppy track conditions, worked four furlongs in 47.46 seconds Wednesday over the Belmont main track. It was the fastest of 29 works at the distance.
Angel Penna, the trainer of Chatain, said he is pointing the horse to the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile here on Nov. 24. Penna said he would like to get a race into Chatain before then if possible, as Chatain has not run since winning a third-level allowance race on Aug. 6.
"I'm looking around,'' Penna said. "I'd rather run in a race than train up to it. I could go cold turkey into it, but that would not be ideal."
Chatain was forced to scratch out of the Grade 1 Forego on Sept. 1 because of a bruised foot.
Prado named on Friday mount
Jockey Edgar Prado, sidelined since breaking his ankle in a spill at Saratoga on Sept. 1, is named on one mount Friday at Aqueduct. Prado will ride Giant Chieftain for Stanley Hough in the day's last race, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up on the turf.
That race is one of just two in the condition book that filled. The other seven races on the card were extras.
* Country Star, winner of the Alcibiades at Keeneland, worked four furlongs in 48.48 seconds Wednesday morning at Belmont.