The colts may have to step aside this year at the Breeders' Cup, where upsets and injuries have opened the door for the fillies.
With nearly three weeks left before racing's $10-million day at Belmont Park on Oct. 27, all but the $1-million Juvenile Fillies race was wide open.
Breeders' Cup officials expect the $3-million Classic, the highlight of the seven-race program, to draw one of the largest fields ever. That's because no horse has dominated racing this year, leaving the chase for Horse-of-the-Year wide open.
"If you look up and down the field and you think you can beat most of them and there are just a couple you're worried about, it's a lot easier," said trainer Billy Badgett, who might send the 3-year-old filly Go for Wand in the Classic.
Also on the program will be the $2-million Turf, and the Juvenile, Distaff, Sprint and Mile, each offering $1-million purses.
Only one female--Triptych in 1986--has ever run in the Classic, and she finished sixth. That number could double this year with Go for Wand and Bayakoa, a 6-year-old mare.
Go for Wand won the 1 1/8-mile Beldame on Sunday at Belmont in 1:45 4/5, only one-fifth of a second off the track record of the great Secretariat.
How tough a decision would it be to run in the Classic against colts instead of the Distaff?
"I think after today, it might be a little easier than it has been," Badgett said after the Beldame.
Bayakoa's connections are thinking of the Classic, too, after her three-length victory over archrival Gorgeous in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday.
"Sure, it's a possibility," trainer Ron McAnally said.
The decision carries a heavy price tag. Bayakoa wasn't nominated for the Breeders' Cup, so it would cost $600,000 to supplement her to the Classic, $200,000 to the Distaff.
A win in the 1 1/4-mile Classic is almost a prerequisite for winning Horse-of-the-Year--except for the 5-year-old stallion Criminal Type, winner of four straight Grade I stakes until he was sixth in the Woodward on Sept. 15. After the Woodward, he came up with a tender left foreleg that sidelined him for the rest of the year.
He could win the honor if none of the big horses emerges from the Classic.
Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and Summer Squall, the Preakness winner who goes on Friday in the Meadowlands Cup, would need Classic wins to be considered for Horse-of-the-Year. So would Izvestia, the Canadian Triple Crown champion upset by Flying Continental in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday.
NATIONAL THOROUGHBRED POLL
The National Thoroughbred poll for 1990 conducted by Thoroughbred Racing Communications, Inc. (TRC), covering racing performances through Oct. 7. Rankings based on the votes of 37 sports and thoroughbred racing media representatives, with first-place votes in parentheses, 1990 record, total points and last week's ranking (C-colt, G-gelding, H-horse, F-filly, M-mare):
1. Go for Wand (15) 3-F 8-7-1-0 318 2 2. Criminal Type (17) 5-H 11-7-2-0 286 1 3. Summer Squall 3-C 6-4-2-0 254 3 4. Bayakoa 6-M 9-6-2-0 231 5 5. Housebuster 3-C 11-9-1-0 176 4 6. Golden Pheasant 4-C 5-3-0-1 136 7 7. Meadow Star 2-F 6-6-0-0 123 8. Dispersal (2) 4-C 8-6-0-0 94 8 9. Flying Continental 4-C 6-3-1-1 72 10. Beau Genius (1) 5-H 12-9-1-1 61 9
Other horses receiving votes: Izvestia 50, Unbridled 43, Best Pal 28, Gorgeous 17, Steinlen 13, With Approval 6, Cacoethes 5, Fly So Free 3, Quiet American 3, Safely Kept 3, Eastern Echo 1, Rhythm 1, What a Cooker 1.