Montauk would add intrigue
Free Drop Billy and Firenze Fire certainly established themselves as contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by virtue of their Grade 1 victories last weekend. However, it was another 2-year-old who could be an intriguing player in the race if – and it’s a big if – his connections choose to run.
Montauk, a son of Medaglia d’Oro trained by Todd Pletcher, was most impressive winning a seven-furlong maiden race by 11 1/4 lengths last Saturday at Belmont Park. He covered the distance in 1:22.97 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 87.
While jumping from a sevenfurlong maiden race at Belmont on Oct. 7 to the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run around two turns at 1 1/16 miles Del Mar on Nov. 4 would be quite daunting, the idea has not been dismissed.
John Panagot, racing manager for Robert LaPenta, who owns Montauk along with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creeks racing, said Wednesday: “All options are on the table . . . . Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll formulate a plan based off what Montauk is telling Todd.”
New Year’s Day (2013) and Action This Day (2003) both won the Juvenile in their third start and coming out of maiden wins in their second out. Both horses were based in Southern California in years when the Breeders’ Cup was held at Santa Anita.
“I think it’d be a lot to do, but it hasn’t been ruled out completely,” Pletcher said. “He was very impressive, but shipping to Del Mar for his second start, running against more seasoned horses, the favorite’s already run twice there and is based in California, you’re kind of taking all the worst of it in that situation.”
The favorite is Bolt d’Oro, who is 3 for 3 including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and a most impressive victory in the Grade 1 FrontRunner on Sept. 30 at Santa Anita.
Meanwhile, trainer Dale Romans said he intends to send Breeders’ Futurity winner Free Drop Billy and Iroquois runnerup Hollywood Star to Southern California from Kentucky on Monday. They will be based at Santa Anita, and each will have one work there and one work at Del Mar leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. The Del Mar backstretch doesn’t open until Oct. 22.
Romans said sending the colts early to California will allow them to acclimate to the weather.
“I just think there’s no downside to it,” Romans said Wednesday.
Romans said that Robby Albarado will ride Free Drop Billy, while Joel Rosario has picked up the mount on Hollywood Star.
Romans said Tiz Mischief, an impressive maiden winner on last Saturday’s card at Keeneland, would skip the Breeders’ Cup to focus on the Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs. Eddie Kane, racing manager for Calumet Farm, said Breeders’ Futurity runner-up Bravazo also would skip the Breeders’ Cup to await the Kentucky Jockey Club.