LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Eclipse Awards for divisional championships were apparently clinched by the winners of 4 of Saturday's Breeders' Cup races at Churchill Downs.
Gulch is the likely national sprint champion; Miesque appears to have wrapped up the female turf title; Open Mind should be voted the honors for best 2-year-old filly, and Personal Ensign is a cinch to be voted the best older filly or mare.
Winning Colors, despite her loss by a nose to Personal Ensign in the Distaff, should be voted best 3-year-old filly, because of her earlier wins in the Kentucky and Santa Anita derbies.
But the results of other Eclipse divisional elections aren't so clear.
Forty Niner's poor race in the Classic will hurt him in the voting for best 3-year-old colt. Risen Star, who won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and then was retired, is in contention in that category.
Although Is It True won Saturday's Juvenile, Easy Goer might still get votes for best 2-year-old colt because he was second on a muddy track that gave him difficulty. Easy Goer beat Is It True 3 times on fast tracks.
There is still an important 2-year-old race to be run, the $1-million Hollywood Futurity in December, and both Is It True and Houston, his highly touted but inexperienced stablemate, may run.
After his Great Communicator won Saturday's Turf, trainer Thad Ackel thought that the victory should be enough to nail down the male turf title. But Sunshine Forever, who finished second, has won 3 major races this year to Great Communicator's 2 and may still get some support, particularly from the Eastern voting sector.
Before Saturday, many voters were prepared to vote for Shug McGaughey as the year's outstanding trainer. But McGaughey won only 1 race despite starting 3 favorites, and Wayne Lukas won 3 of the stakes. Another contender is Jack Van Berg, who trains Alysheba.
There was a humorous exchange between Van Berg and Clarence Scharbauer, one of Alysheba's owners, after the Classic.
"Are there any more stigmas that this horse has to overcome?" Scharbauer said to newsmen. "He hasn't run on Lasix (a controversial medication given to bleeders) since the Hollywood Gold Cup."
Van Berg smiled. "Clarence, you're the only one who's talking about that anymore," the trainer said.
Gene Klein, who owns 3 of Saturday's Breeders' Cup winners, was unable to sell Lady's Secret, the 1986 horse of the year, for the second time. In foal to Alydar--although the birth isn't expected until May, which is considered a late date--Lady's Secret went through an auction ring in Lexington, Ky., the other night, and Klein bought her back when Peter Brant, the underbidder, dropped out at just over $4 million.
Last year, in another pre-Breeders' Cup sale, Klein expected $6 million or more for Lady's Secret and he wound up still owning her when the bids fell beneath that.
"I'll have a nice Alydar baby, and we'll keep breeding her," Klein said. "Maybe circumstances will turn me into a breeder."
Klein, the former owner of the San Diego Chargers, has been mainly identified as someone who prefers to just race his horses.
Angel Cordero had won with only 1 of 25 Breeders' Cup mounts before he scored with Gulch and Open Mind Saturday. It's been a big year for Cordero, who was elected into the racing Hall of Fame earlier.
"I won that one race in 1985, and now I've won 2 in one day," Cordero said. "I feel like I'm in heaven."
Breeders' Cup Notes
Drawing about 40,000 fewer people than Churchill Downs, Santa Anita almost totaled as much in betting as the Louisville track Saturday. Santa Anita, offering 7 Breeders' Cup races via television and 4 live races, handled $10.7 million with a crowd of about 30,000. At Churchill Downs, for 10 races, a crowd of 71,237 bet close to $11 million. The crowd at Churchill is a record for the Breeders' Cup. . . . Miesque is going to Kentucky, probably to be bred to Mr. Prospector next year. . . . Once Wild, who was injured, was scratched from the Sprint and his owners were returned their $20,000 entry fee because it was a veterinarian's scratch. . . Randy Romero won the Distaff for the second straight year, having ridden Sacahuista to victory last year. . . . Because of his win Saturday and likely Eclipse Award as top sprinter for the year, Gulch's owner, Peter Brant, will receive bonus fees from the partners who bought into the horse's breeding syndicate. . . . Churchill Downs reportedly received $250,000 from an insurance company because it risked $25,000 on a policy that said that a tenth of an inch of rain wouldn't fall at the track by noon Saturday. Race tracks don't bet horses, but they can still get some action.