For Effinex, Gold Cup is start of money run

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – David Gren­ing – Steve An­der­sen – Marty Mcgee – Jim Dun­leavy

ELMONT, N.Y. – A well-bred horse with five graded stakes wins and more than $3 mil­lion in the bank would fig­ure to be headed to the breed­ing shed at the con­clu­sion of his 5-year-old sea­son. But if Rus­sell Co­hen stays true to his word, his fam­i­ly­owned Effinex will re­turn to the races in 2017 as a 6-year-old.

“He’s sound as a dol­lar bill, the purses are huge, and he’s re­ally tal­ented,” Co­hen said Wed­nes­day at Bel­mont. “From an owner-breeder point of view, you cer­tainly couldn’t pay to have any more run than we’re hav­ing. Why should I re­tire him?”

Effinex, a New York-bred son of Mi­ne­shaft, fin­ished sec­ond to Amer­i­can Pharoah in last year’s Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic and then won the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs.

On Satur­day, he will try to earn a fees-paid berth in this year’s $6 mil­lion Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic, to be run at Santa Anita, when he runs against five ri­vals in the Grade 1, $1 mil­lion Jockey Club Gold Cup at Bel­mont Park.

The Gold Cup is the fea­tured event on a Su­per Satur­day card that in­cludes six other stakes. First post is 12:15 p.m. East­ern.

Effinex drew post 6 and will be rid­den by Mike Smith in the Gold Cup, which will go as race 10 on the 11-race card. From the rail, the Gold Cup drew Pro­ton­ico, Mub­taahij, Hop­per­tu­nity, War Story, Water­shed, and Effinex.

Co­hen said the purses of the BC Clas­sic, the newly cre­ated $12 mil­lion Pe­ga­sus World Cup, to be run Jan. 28 at Gulf­stream Park, and the $10 mil­lion Dubai World Cup in March are more than enough in­cen­tive to keep his horse in train­ing an­other year de­spite of­fers to stand him at stud.

“Now, if he ever goes un­sound or gets a hair out of place, I’ll con­sider it,” he said.

Co­hen said he has been ap­proached by some­one with a slot in the Pe­ga­sus – for which 12 en­ti­ties paid $1 mil­lion each – hop­ing to get a horse in the race. Co­hen de­clined to say who ap­proached him.

Effinex, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, has made 29 starts, win­ning nine and bank­ing $3.04 mil­lion. In ad­di­tion to win­ning the Clark and the Sub­ur­ban twice, he has won the Grade 2 Oak­lawn Hand­i­cap and Grade 3 Ex­cel­sior.

On Wed­nes­day, Effinex blew out three fur­longs in 36.62 sec­onds over the Bel­mont Park train­ing track in prepa­ra­tion for the Gold Cup.

The com­plex­ion of the Gold Cup field changed a lit­tle bit this week. On Sun­day, Jerkens an­nounced that Wood­ward win­ner Shaman Ghost would skip the Gold Cup and train up to the Breed­ers’ Cup.

Sam­raat, who fin­ished sec­ond, beaten a neck by Effinex, in the Sub­ur­ban, was not en­tered in the Jockey Club. Trainer Rick Vi­o­lette said Sam­raat isn’t do­ing “as well as he needs to in or­der to run in a race like this.”

Those two de­fec­tions prompted trainer Todd Pletcher to re­di­rect Pro­ton­ico from the Grade 2 Kelso at a mile to the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. Pro­ton­ico, a four-time graded stakes win­ner, came off a lay­off of more than nine months to win a clas­si­fied al­lowance race by a nose over Ocean Knight on Sept. 11.

“The only thing we’re miss­ing on his ré­sumé is a Grade 1,” Pletcher said. “That would be huge for him if he were able to get that done. With a few of the ma­jor play­ers not show­ing up – Shaman Ghost and Sam­raat – we felt this might be the right spot at the right time.”

Trainer Mark Hen­nig ap­pears to have some nice young horses for Don­ald and Donna Adam’s Court­landt Farm, but it is the 6-year-old mare Strike Charmer who might have given these con­nec­tions their big­gest thrill of the year when she won the Grade 2 Ball­ston Spa at Sara- toga.

Strike Charmer ral­lied from last in the field of seven in the Ball­ston Spa to out­fin­ish Lady Eli, hand­ing that filly her first de­feat. Those two will meet again Satur­day at Bel­mont Park in the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl, a Win and You’re In race for the Breed­ers’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

Hen­nig un­der­stood that the story re­gard­ing the Ball­ston Spa was about Lady Eli, who was mak­ing her first start in 14 months af­ter over­com­ing lamini­tis. He doesn’t feel Strike Charmer got over­looked, even af­ter the win.

“If any­thing, maybe she got more at­ten­tion be­cause she beat Lady Eli,” Hen­nig said. “Cer­tainly, the hul­la­baloo about Lady Eli was for good rea­son. She was un­beaten, com­ing off a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence that a lot of horses don’t even sur­vive, let alone make it back to the races.”

In the Flower Bowl, Strike Charmer will be at­tempt­ing 1 1/4 miles for the first time. She has three vic­to­ries at 1 1/8 miles.

“She was clos­ing well those days,” said Hen­nig, not­ing that the added dis­tance “can al­ways have an ef­fect on them.”

“You don’t know till you try,” he said. “It cer­tainly seems more log­i­cal than go­ing [shorter].”

Ju­nior Al­varado rode Strike Charmer in the Ball­ston Spa, but he is at Keeneland on Satur­day. Javier Castel­lano has picked up the mount on Strike Charmer, who will break from post 2.

Lady Eli drew post 5, and a sta­ble­mate, Bev­erly D. win­ner Sea Cal­isi, drew post 6. Others en­tered in­clude Ame Bleue, It­sonly­act­ing­dad, and Sen­tiero Italia.

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito may not be the pres­ence in the big races that he once was, but he hopes to be a fac­tor in Satur­day’s Grade 1, $500,000 Cham­pagne with Lookin At

Bless­ing.

Zito has won the Cham­pagne five times, in­clud­ing in 2003 with Bird­stone and in 2007 with War Pass.

Lookin At Bless­ing, a son of Lookin At Lucky, is com­ing off a 2 1/4-length maiden score go­ing a mile here Sept. 11, his third start.

“I think the horse is cer­tainly get­ting bet­ter,” Zito said. “He won at a mile, which has got to be good, and did it pretty im­pres­sively. I think that was a good field be­hind him. Cer­tainly, a horse that looks like that has got a fu­ture. I got to try to see what it is. If you don’t take your shot, you can’t score.”

Lookin At Bless­ing drew post 4 and will be rid­den by Irad Or­tiz Jr. Or­tiz was taken off Prac­ti­cal Joke, the Grade 1 Hope­ful win­ner, who will be rid­den by Joel Rosario from the rail in the Cham­pagne.

Thirst for Vic­tory and Syn­der­gaard, both trained by Todd Pletcher, drew posts 2 and 3. Fa­vor­able Out­come is in post 5, fol­lowed by Big Gray Rocket in post 6.

Trainer Rick Vi­o­lette said the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette is a race he’s al­ways wanted to win, and he’ll take a swing at it on Satur­day with Sky Ges­ture, a de­but win­ner at Saratoga on Aug. 28.

Sky Ges­ture was one of six 2-year-old fil­lies en­tered in the Frizette, which will go as race 4 on Satur­day’s 11-race pro­gram at Bel­mont Park.

Sky Ges­ture beat Cur­sor by 1 3/4 lengths on Aug. 28 at Saratoga, and Cur­sor came back to win her maiden Wed­nes­day at Bel­mont Park.

Vi­o­lette said Sky Ges­ture’s speed in her de­but sur­prised him.

“She’s a big, unas­sum­ing filly,” he said. “She doesn’t show off a whole lot in the morn­ing, al­though her breeze out of the gate be­fore she ran was pretty im­pres­sive.”

That day, Sky Ges­ture worked in com­pany with Mar­ket Sen­ti­ment, who also came out of that work to win his de­but.

Sky Ges­ture, a daugh­ter of Tiznow, will at­tempt to stretch out from six fur­longs to a mile in the Frizette. She will break from the rail un­der Mike Smith.

Out­side of her, in post-po­si­tion or­der, will be Libby’s Tail, Nonna Mela, Yel­low Agate, Star Su­per, and Col­or­ful Cha­rades.

Though he rerouted Pro­ton­ico to the Jockey Club Gold Cup, trainer Todd Pletcher still has the tal­ented duo of Tommy Ma­cho and An­chor Down for Satur­day’s Grade 2, $350,000 Kelso Hand­i­cap at Bel­mont Park.

Tommy Ma­cho is mak­ing his first start since win­ning the Fred Hooper at Gulf­stream in Fe­bru­ary. He un­der­went surgery to re­move a chip from a knee and has come back a bit sooner than Pletcher an­tic­i­pated.

“Ev­ery­thing has gone as well as we could have hoped,” Pletcher said. “He hasn’t missed a beat since he’s come back. We’re happy to have him back.”

An­chor Down, who won the Grade 3 Westch­ester here in May, missed a sched­uled start in the Grade 1 Forego due to a quar­ter crack, Pletcher said.

Others en­tered in the Kelso in­clude Ocean Knight, Point Piper, Ta­markuz, and Up­start. In other stakes Satur­day:

In­spec­tor Lyn­ley, the win­ner of the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga in his most re­cent start, drew post 5 in a field of 10 for the Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. He will take on a field that in­cludes three from trainer Chad Brown – An­nals of Time, Camelot Kit­ten, and Beach Pa­trol – as well as Con­quest Dad­dyo, Amer­i­can Pa­triot, Dressed in Her­mes, Mon­ster Bea, Ber­liner, and Strike Mid­night.

Own­ers-breed­ers Frank and Pa­tri­cia Gen­er­azio have a po­tent one-two punch of Pure Sen­sa­tion and Disco Part­ner en­tered in a field of 10 for the in­au­gu­ral $150,000 Bel­mont Turf Sprint In­vi­ta­tional. Pure Sen­sa­tion, trained by Christophe Cle­ment, won the Jaipur and Parx Dash in his two most re­cent starts and is re­turn­ing from a foot in­jury. Disco Part­ner, trained by James Ry­er­son, is com­ing off a neck win in the Troy Stakes.

Santa Anita: City of Hope Mile

ARCADIA, Calif. – The mul­ti­ple graded stakes win­ners Ob­vi­ously and Om will dom­i­nate the bet­ting in Satur­day’s $200,000 City of Hope Mile on turf at Santa Anita.

Ob­vi­ously won the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Bel­mont Park on June 18 in his lat­est start. Om, a three-time stakes win­ner in 2015, re­turned from a six­month lay­off to fin­ish sec­ond in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile on turf Aug. 21.

They are part of a field that is ex­pected to in­clude Ed John­son, Frank Con­ver­sa­tion, Pa­tri­ots Rule, Per­fectly Ma­jes­tic, and Vy­jack.

Satur­day’s rich­est race is the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Cham­pi­onship at six fur­longs, which is ex­pected to have a small field. Lord Nel­son, the win­ner of the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes here in June and the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar in July, will be a heavy fa­vorite.

Keeneland: Breed­ers’ Cup preps

LEX­ING­TON, Ky. – Tepin has been as­signed post 2 as the heavy fa­vorite for the Grade 1 First Lady, one of five graded stakes set for a block­buster Satur­day card at Keeneland.

With Julien Leparoux rid­ing for trainer Mark Casse, Tepin will be mak­ing her fi­nal start be­fore try­ing for a re­peat vic­tory in the Nov. 5 Breed­ers’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old Tepin is un­beaten in six starts in three coun­tries this year.

The First Lady leads into two other Grade 1 races, the Breed­ers’ Fu­tu­rity and Shadwell Turf Mile, the lat­ter of which drew a stel­lar lineup as the rich­est race of the 17-day fall meet. Here’s a quick run­down:

Grade 1, $1 mil­lion Shadwell Turf Mile (race 9): Mon­di­al­iste and Kasaqui, the onetwo fin­ish­ers in the Ar­ling­ton Mil­lion, are part of an out­stand­ing field of 11 that also in­cludes Grand Arch, Iron­i­cus, Ring Weekend, and Tourist. Miss Tem­ple City, who de­feated males in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile in the spring, will dodge Tepin by run­ning here.

Grade 1, $500,000 Breed­ers’ Fu­tu­rity (race 8): Graded stakes win­ners Bi­tu­men, Gun­n­ev­era, and Clas­sic Em­pire are among the 12 2-year-olds en­tered in this 1 1/16-mile race.

Grade 1, $400,000 First Lady (race 7): Per­haps the chief op­po­si­tion for Tepin in this one-mile turf race will come from Ce­les­tine, the win­ner of the Just a Game in June. Ten fil­lies and mares are en­tered.

Grade 2, $250,000 Thor­ough­bred Club of Amer­ica (race 6): Stone­tas­tic will break from post 2 in a six-fur­long race that also has Bend­able, Sarah Sis, and Spelling Again in a field of eight fil­lies and mares.

Grade 3, $150,000 Wood­ford (race 5): An over­sub­scribed field of turf sprint­ers in­cludes Mon­go­lian Satur­day, the win­ner of the BC Turf Sprint here last year.

Charles Town: West Va. Clas­sic

Long­time West Vir­ginia horse­man James W. Casey cer­tainly is stay­ing busy at age 86. He has trained 45 win­ners this year and is only four away from 1,000. He also op­er­ates Tay­lor Moun­tain Farm in Charles Town, which stands four stal­lions.

On Satur­day night, Casey will at­tempt to win the $450,000 West Vir­ginia Breed­ers’ Clas­sic with Char­i­ta­ble An­nu­ity for the sec­ond straight year. His re­cently re­tired 10 -yearold Rus­sell Road is sched­uled to lead the post pa­rade for the Clas­sic, a race he won three times for owner Mark Rus­sell, who also races Char­i­ta­ble An­nu­ity.

In last year’s Breed­ers’ Clas­sic, Char­i­ta­ble An­nu­ity ral­lied from off the pace to win by 2 3/4 lengths, while Rus­sell Road tired to fin­ish ninth af­ter bleed­ing dur­ing the race.

Casey said Char­i­ta­ble An­nu­ity is ready to de­fend his ti­tle.

“He’s do­ing won­der­ful,” Casey said. “It’s not go­ing to be a walkover, though. It’s go­ing to be a nice race. He re­ally likes the 1 1/8 miles.”

West Vir­ginia Clas­sics night at Charles Town will con­sist of nine stakes for state­breds. To­tal purses for the nine races will be $1.17 mil­lion. First post is 7 p.m. East­ern.

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