Friday, October 25, 2002

Bad start to Baffert's day



By Rick Gano
The Associated Press

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - A traffic jam got Bob Baffert's day off to a bad start.

Then, things got even worse Thursday for the high-profile trainer of War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.

"I left my downtown hotel at 6:30 a.m., and it took me an hour and a half to get here," Baffert said of the 25-mile trip from Chicago to Arlington Park.

"Then I was coming back from the track with War Emblem and they locked the gate on us," he said. "We had to go down and around on the pavement. I wanted to get my car and drive through the fence."

Baffert has seven horses entered in Saturday's eight-race World Thoroughbred Championships.

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JOCKEYING FOR POSITION: Pat Day and Jerry Bailey, who share the Breeders' Cup record with 12 victories each, will be busy again during the championships at Arlington Park.

Day will ride in six of eight races and Bailey will be aboard seven mounts Saturday.

Day, the only jockey to have ridden in all 18 previous Breeders' Cups, won the Distaff last year aboard Unbridled Elaine. His BC mounts have earned $21.7 million.

Bailey is third in Breeders' Cup earnings with $13.7 million and is riding Medaglia d'Oro, one of the favorites in Saturday's $4 million Classic. He has ridden at least one Breeders' Cup winner the last four years.

Mike Smith has a claim of his own. He's the only rider to have taken six different Cup races, even though he hasn't been in the winner's circle since 1997. And of 10 jockeys who have won five or more Breeders' Cup races, Smith has the highest winning percentage (8-for-42 or 19 percent).

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WAR EMBLEM'S FUTURE: Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem will leave trainer Bob Baffert's barn for good Saturday.

After the colt runs in the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he's the lukewarm 3-1 early favorite, War Emblem will head to quarantine in preparation for a stud career in Japan.

War Emblem was sold last month for $17 million. He will stand at the same farm as Sunday Silence, the 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who died in August.

The Shadai Stallion Station farm, located on the island of Hokkaido, lost two other stallions recently and was looking for a replacement.

Baffert said War Emblem is nominated to a race in Japan in late November, making it possible he could run once more before heading to the farm.

He's the horse many of the 45,000 people expected to attend Saturday want to see.

"There's a lot of buzz. A lot of people want to watch him. It's his last race in the States," Baffert said.

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ON THE ROAD: Getting to Arlington Park can be an adventure, well before the start of the Breeders' Cup.

Perfect Soul finally arrived Thursday after a delayed van ride from Canada.

"We were due in about 5 o'clock, but we were held up at the border for a few hours," said exercise rider Paul O'Sullivan. "We'll take him to the track Friday."

Falcon Flight took a different route to the Chicago suburbs - a Federal Express flight after working out Wednesday in California.

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HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Before Bobby Frankel became a Hall of Fame trainer, he was a dominant figure in claiming races.

But he didn't make his mark until he started winning with top horses.

"All of those claiming races you win don't mean anything," Frankel said while visiting with retired trainer Gary Jones at his barn. "They don't trust you until you get some good horses and win some big races.

"Juddmonte helped me because they gave me good horses early. The other people came along later."

Jones said the claiming experience is irreplaceable because it affords a young trainer the opportunity to get a feel for horses, their personalities and characteristics.

"You just don't want to get caught in a rut and labeled a "claiming trainer,"' he said.

Jones stood in Wednesday night for retired jockey Chris McCarron, who was given the Mr. Fitz Award by the National Turf Writers Association.

McCarron couldn't attend because he's filming the movie "Seabiscuit."

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IN LOVE WITH LOUIE: Chopinina is entered in Saturday's Filly & Mare Turf, but she has other things on her mind these days.

Trainer Alec Fehr says his filly has "fallen in love" with his stable pony, Louie.

"The problem now is that she won't go anywhere without him," Fehr said. "She won't even go to the track without him. And when you're out there, she never wants to leave his side. When we're working, I have to break her off and try to get her encouraged or interested in her competition.

"When she's done, she rushes back to the pony."

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IVANAVINALOT OUT: Ivanavinalot won't race in Saturday's Juvenile Fillies because she's not feeling well. She didn't even make the trip to Arlington Park.

"She did not eat up yesterday and she never misses an oat," said trainer Kathleen O'Connell.

O'Connell said some blood tests showed that the 2-year-old filly has a high white cell count.

"We can't send her out if she isn't 110 percent," O'Connell said. "It's disappointing to get this close and not be able to make it. She will be OK."

Ivanavinalot would have been O'Connell's first Breeders' Cup starter.

Ocean Drive wins Green River Stakes at Keeneland

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ocean Drive caught Sand Springs with a quarter-mile left and drew away to a 43/4-length victory Thursday in the $111,500 Green River Stakes at Keeneland.

The daughter of Belong to Me remained undefeated in three starts, covering a mile on the turf in 1:44.30 with John Velazquez aboard.

Sand Springs held on for second, 23/4 lengths ahead of Moonlight Sonata in a field of eight 2-year-old fillies.

With the winner's purse of $69,130, Ocean Drive increased her career earnings to $126,730. She is owned by Bonnie and Sy Baskin's Sybon Racing.

The winner paid $4, $2.60 and $2.40 as the even-money favorite. Sand Springs returned $3 and $2.80, and Moonlight Sonata paid $3.80.



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Bad start to Baffert's day