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Prospects Are Looking Good for Free House in Goodwood

Oak Tree: Running against Silver Charm on a friendly track, he'll try to rebound from Woodward disappointment.

October 15, 1998|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There is one advantage Free House has over Silver Charm going into their seventh meeting in the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap on Saturday.

Their first encounter since the 1997 Belmont Stakes is at Santa Anita, where Free House has beaten Silver Charm twice in three races.

After finishing second in their first meeting in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 8, 1997, Free House won the San Felipe Stakes, going 1 1/16 miles on March 16, then came back and won a thrilling Santa Anita Derby three weeks later at 1 1/8 miles.

Trying to rebound after an uncharacteristically bad performance in the Woodward Stakes last month at Belmont Park--he finished fourth, more than 16 lengths behind Skip Away--Free House worked half a mile in 47 4/5 Wednesday morning, his final prep before the Goodwood. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00 2/5.

"I'm very pleased," trainer Paco Gonzalez said after the workout under regular rider Chris McCarron. "It was exactly what we were looking for."

In all likelihood, the Goodwood, which is run at 1 1/8 miles, will be the final race of 1998 for Free House. There is only a small chance he will be supplemented into the Breeders' Cup Classic, since owners John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery will have to put up $800,000.

Silver Charm, who will carry 124 pounds, the same as Free House, had his final workout Monday, going six furlongs in 1:10 2/5. The Breeders' Cup Classic could still be in his future.

"He's doing very well," trainer Bob Baffert said. "I'm very confident. Right now, I think he's back and better than he's ever been."

Score Quick, Sovereign M.D. and Don't Blame Rio are also expected to be entered this morning in the Goodwood, and Cantbetouched and Albaha are possible.

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Kona Gold, who was dominant in three victories at Del Mar, will make his stakes debut on Saturday when he takes on as many as nine rivals in the $150,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Trained by Bruce Headley, the 4-year-old Java Gold gelding won his three races at Del Mar by a combined 28 1/2 lengths, and a win Saturday would guarantee him a spot in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Nov. 7 at Churchill Downs.

The beaten choice in the Autumn Days Handicap on the turf Sept. 30, filly Advancing Star will take on the boys in the six-furlong Ancient Title. The field is also expected to include Old Topper, Gold Land, A.P. Assay, another filly, The Barking Shark, The Exeter Man and Swiss Yodeler. Young At Heart and Emailit are possible entrants.

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Apprentice rider Ariel Smith, 16, won the first race of his young career with 4-1 shot Never Miss in Wednesday's fourth race at Santa Anita.

An Arcadia resident and the son of former jockey Alfredo Smith Jr., who still works as an exercise rider locally, Smith won with his sixth mount. He has been exercising horses at Santa Anita and began riding on opening day after he turned 16, the legal age to compete as a jockey.

Breaking from the outside post, Smith won by eight lengths on Never Miss, a 4-year-old Aras An Uachtrain filly who scored in her second start for owner Shane Bess and trainer Walter Greenman. She paid $10.80 in the $25,000 maiden claimer.

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Joyeux Danseur, who proved himself the best turf horse in the country earlier this year, will return to action on Saturday, taking on a small field in the $250,000 Keeneland Breeders' Cup Mile.

The race, which will serve as the 5-year-old's prep for the Breeders' Cup, will be Joyeux Danseur's first start since he romped in the Early Times Turf Classic on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

Defending champion Wild Event and 1997 horse of the year Favorite Trick, who will be making his first start on turf, are among those scheduled to challenge Joyeux Danseur.

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Trainer Julio Canani, who racked up five stakes victories at Del Mar with Ladies Din and Tuzla, will try for a couple of prestigious wins in Canada this weekend.

Tuzla, who won the Osunitas Stakes and Palomar Handicap down south, arrived at Woodbine Tuesday to prepare for the $400,000 E.P. Taylor on Sunday. Canani will also be represented by Astarabad, a Group I winner in France earlier this year, in the $1-million Canadian International Championship at the Toronto track.

Corey Nakatani will ride both Tuzla and Astarabad. Gary Stevens and Kent Desormeaux also have mounts in both races. Stevens has the call on Royal Anthem in the International and Zomaradah in the Taylor. Desormeaux will ride Storm Trooper in the International and Midnight Lace in the Taylor.

The likely favorite in the International is Chief Bearhart, the defending champion who went on to win the 1997 Breeders' Cup Turf as well as the Eclipse award as the top male turf performer.

Horse Racing Notes

Career Collection, who won three stakes as a 2-year-old and ran second to Countess Diana in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, will make her first start this year and first for Bob Baffert in Friday's $72,000 Cascapedia at 6 1/2 furlongs. Gary Stevens will ride the General Meeting filly, who won the California Cup Juvenile Fillies by nine lengths the last time she ran at Santa Anita. . . . Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. has ridden at least one winner in the last nine programs at Oak Tree after guiding favored Sunday Stroll to victory in Wednesday's first race. Pincay leads the standings with 11 wins, two more than Chris McCarron. His lifetime mark is 8,648; that's 185 fewer than all-time leader Bill Shoemaker's 8,833. . . . There is a pick six carry-over of more than $84,000 for today.

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