Cigar Mile: Pinch-hitter for Tasteyville
OZONE PARK, N.Y. -- The Cigar Mile lost one of its major players on Wednesday when trainer Pat Kelly said that Tasteyville would not be running in the Grade 1 race because of an ankle injury. Kelly said he would substitute Naughty New Yorker instead.
"He wrenched an ankle,'' Kelly said of Tasteyville. "You can't run if you can't train.''
The front-running Tasteyville would have been an intriguing alternative to heavy favorite Midnight Lute in the $300,000 Cigar, the last Grade 1 of the year to be run in New York. Tasteyville was coming off a 9 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap over a sloppy Aqueduct surface, a performance that earned him a 112 Beyer Speed figure. Prior to that, Tasteyville had run second to Any Given Saturday in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont.
"I thought he'd be right there,'' Kelly said. "I can't worry about who he was running against; I just know he likes Aqueduct and had been doing good.''
In Naughty New Yorker, Kelly runs a 5-year-old New York-bred who has won 10 of 38 starts and banked $845,639. He has run some of his best races under the one-turn mile scenario, including back-to-back victories in the General Douglas MacArthur Handicap at Belmont. He earned a 102 Beyer in both races. Naughty New Yorker earned his career-best 103 Beyer over this track in April when he finished second to Magna Graduate in the Excelsior Handicap.
In his most recent start, Naughty New Yorker finished fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the $250,000 Empire Classic at Belmont. Though the track was labeled fast, it had plenty of moisture in it, Kelly said.
"It was a crappy track that day; I probably shouldn't have run him,'' Kelly said. "None of the highweights ran their race.''
Kelly scratched Naughty New Yorker out of last weekend's Stuyvesant Handicap in part due to moisture in the track and also because he was getting an inkling Tasteyville might not be ready.
Meanwhile, Midnight Lute, the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, was due to arrive in New York by mid-afternoon Wednesday following a cross-country flight from Southern California. He will bed down in trainer John Terranova's Belmont Park barn.
Bob Baffert, trainer of Midnight Lute, was scheduled to be here to saddle the horse. Baffert has won three of the last seven runnings of the Cigar Mile with El Corredor (2000) and Congaree (2002-03).
Others expected for the Cigar Mile are Daaher, Diamond Isle, and Xchanger. Sir Greeley is possible.
Pletcher close to his own record
With action in a bevy of stakes from coast to coast this weekend, trainer Todd Pletcher is poised to break his North American single-year earnings record.
Last year, Pletcher set the record of $26,820,243. Entering action Wednesday, Pletcher's North American starters in 2007 have earned $26,178,276, leaving him $641,967 shy of the mark. It's worth noting that Pletcher was not the trainer of record for his stable from Jan. 1-Feb. 10 while he was serving a suspension.
Pletcher, who has won the last three Eclipse Awards as North America's leading trainer, will be represented in at least nine graded stakes between Thursday and Sunday. On Thursday, Pletcher was scheduled to run favorite Panty Raid in the $300,000 Falls City at Churchill. On Friday, Pletcher will run A. P. Arrow, Fairbanks, and Magna Graduate in the $500,000 Clark at Churchill; The Leopard in the $100,000 Generous at Hollywood Park; and Mini Sermon in the $150,000 Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct.
Saturday, Pletcher has Sea Chanter in the $100,000 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park. At Aqueduct on Saturday, Pletcher is expected to run Sunday Elegance in the $200,000 Demoiselle and Atoned in the $200,000 Remsen. In addition to stakes, Pletcher will have plenty of starters in other races.
If he doesn't get the record by Saturday, Pletcher will most certainly do it Sunday when he starts Wait a While in the $500,000 Matriarch and Twilight Meteor in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park.
Prado joins $200 million club
Jockey Edgar Prado became the seventh jockey in history to surpass the $200 million mark in career purse earnings, accomplishing the feat last Sunday with a three-win day at Aqueduct. Entering Wednesday's action, Prado, 40, has amassed $200,071,207 in purse earnings.
Prado is also closing in on 6,000 career victories. With three more wins on Wednesday, Prado has 5,964 career victories.
Prado, 40, became the second jockey this year to surpass the $200 million mark. Earlier in the year, Alex Solis also did it. The all-time leader in purse earnings is Pat Day, who accumulated $297,912,019 before retiring in 2005.
Kent Desormeaux is closing in on the $200 million mark as well. Through Tuesday, Desormeaux's career earnings were $199,154,677.
Shopton Lane takes shot in Discovery
Shopton Lane, who has won all four of his starts in 2007, will make his stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Discovery Handicap.
Shopton Lane, a son of Quiet American, won his seasonal debut at Delta Downs in January when trained by Tom Amoss. He was later transferred by owner Maggi Moss to Bruce Levine and Shopton Lane won a $50,000 claiming race by 11 3/4 lengths in March over Aqueduct's inner track.
A short time later, Shopton Lane was found to have popped a splint bone, necessitating time off.
Off a five-month layoff, he won a second-level allowance race by 5 3/4 lengths at Monmouth Park, and two months later he took a third-level allowance by three lengths at the Meadowlands.
"I wish I could have run him back a little sooner,'' said Levine, noting the two months between allowance scores. "Two overnight stakes didn't fill and I had no place to go. He won that [third-level allowance] pretty easy but it's a merry-go-round at the Meadowlands. I can't tell you how good the race was.''
Though the Discovery will be Shopton Lane's first start at 1 1/8 miles, Levine said he doesn't believe the distance will be an issue.
"It never looks like he gets tired to me,'' Levine said.
Those pointing to the Discovery include Buffalo Man, Now a Victor, Dr. V's Magic, Pink Viper, and Merchant Marine.
Anakim's career in jeopardy
Anakim, a promising 2-year-old trained by John Kimmel, sustained a fractured sesamoid in his left foreleg and is only 50-50 to run again.
Anakim, a son of Giant's Causeway, won his maiden by three lengths over Cool Coal Man at Belmont in September before finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Champagne and third in the Grade 3 Nashua. Cool Coal Man, trained by Nick Zito, has won two straight and will be one of the favorites in Saturday's Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.
Anakim was injured in a half-mile breeze at Belmont on Nov. 12 as Kimmel was hoping to get him to Saturday's Remsen Stakes.
"They give him about a 50-50 chance to come back,'' Kimmel said.
* Home Crowd, preparing for a start in Saturday's Demoiselle Stakes, worked a half-mile in 49.02 seconds in between races Wednesday over Aqueduct's main track. Herb McCauley, who rode Home Crowd in her maiden win on Oct. 24, was aboard for the work.