Friday, October 17, 2008
DALE CAPUANO TO SADDLE FIRST BREEDERS’ CUP STARTER
LAUREL, MD. 10-16-08---The pre-entries for the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships were announced this morning. The 25th annual event kicks off with five stakes races on Friday, October 24 with another nine added money races Saturday, October 25. Laurel Park will have special noon post time on Saturday.
Dale Capuano, who has won 30 training titles at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park during his career, will saddle his first Breeders’ Cup starter when Laurel Park-based Heros Reward races in the $1 million Turf Sprint in Saturday’s second race (1:50 p.m. post EST).
“We will be facing the top turf sprinters in the country so it will be a tough task,” said Capuano, who saddled Wind Splitter to an 11th place finish in the 1989 Kentucky Derby. “He deserves a chance to compete. I feel good about the horse because he always shows up. All I can ask is that he shows up and runs his race. If he can get a good trip and run the race he is capable of running I think he’ll have a good showing.”
Capuano indicated he and Heros Reward will leave for California Sunday. Regular rider Javier Castellano retains the mount.
Chip Van Hassel has been riding Rouse the Cat since April but the 29-year-old has lost the mount on the son of Sir Cat to Edgar Prado. Trained by Ollie Figgins at Charles Town, the four-year-old has finished in the money six times in seven turf tries, all with Van Hassel, including a win in the James McSorley Stakes at Monmouth Park. His only off the board finish on the grass this year was a troubled seventh in the Old Mutual. In his last start, the gelding missed by a nose in the Grade II Nearctic at Woodbine with Heros Reward fourth, just one length from victory.
“I am very confident this horse is going to win,” said Van Hassel, who has been a member of the Maryland colony since 2004. “I wish they would have stuck with me. I know the horse better than any other jockey and he responds to me. The campaign has unfolded like a dream. He just went through his conditions but had lost to Heros Reward three times before the trip to Canada. He is blossoming at the right time.”
The Nearctic was won by True to Tradition, who finished a neck behind Heros Reward in the Old Mutual. The Delaware Park-based gelding, who is conditioned at by Scott Lake, defeated Heros Reward and Rouse the Cat in the Turf Monster Stakes at Philadelphia Park on Labor Day. Lake also has a barn full of horses at Laurel Park.
“It should be fun,” added Capuano. “We’ll be there and so will Lake and Ollie. We have been beating up each other all year.”
Heros Reward beat nine rivals including Rouse the Cat in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap at Penn National on August 1.
The Turf Sprint could also include Diabolical, who won the 2007 Maryland Sprint Handicap and was second in the 2006 De Francis Dash, and Salute the Count, who was off the board in the 2007 Turf Sprint.
Seven other horses who have raced at Pimlico or Laurel during their careers are also nominated, including Curlin (2007 Preakness Stakes winner) and Student Council (2008 Pimlico Special victor), who are expected to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Fair Hill-based Better Talk Now, who won the 2006 Dixie Handicap, will run in his fifth consecutive Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Graham Motion trainee won the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2004.
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