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BREEDERS' CUP NOTES

European Entrants Might Not Be a Hot Tip

October 22, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

Whether the European horses adjust to the hot Southern California weather will be a handicapping factor for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita on Saturday.

European horses have won four grass races in the five Breeders' Cups run in California, but the last time the races were held at Santa Anita, in 1993, the only European winner was the French Arcangues, a surprise on dirt in the Classic. In 81-degree heat, the Euros were blanked in the Turf and the Mile.

The temperature at 10 a.m. Tuesday was 90 degrees, and it rose to nearly 100 later in the day. The forecast for Saturday is for temperatures ranging from 77 to 82 degrees.

Several European horses, having cleared quarantine, went to the track about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, when the temperature was still under 70. But the Daily Racing Form, in its daily report, noted that Falbrav, one of the favorites in the Turf, was lathered with perspiration around the neck and in the kidney area as he made his way from the track to the paddock.

Two Arc de Triomphe winners have failed to win the Turf in California. Dancing Brave, at 1-2 odds, finished fourth at Santa Anita in 1986, and Trempolino was second the next year at Hollywood Park.

The same years, Sheik Mohammed's Sonic Lady ran seventh and third as the favorite in the Mile.

The French import, Miesque, won the Mile in 1987 at Hollywood and in 1988 at Churchill Downs. Other European winners in California have been Lashkari at Hollywood in 1984 in the first running of the Turf; Last Tycoon in the 1986 Mile; and Spinning World in the 1997 Mile at Hollywood.

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Joe Hirsch, the premier turf writer in the U.S. and a fixture at the Breeders' Cup since its inception in 1984, said Tuesday he would retire from the Daily Racing Form at the end of the year.

"It's time to hang 'em up," Hirsch said from New York, where he will watch Saturday's Breeders' Cup on TV. "I still love the game as much as ever, but the traveling is getting to be too much, and you have to travel in order to keep up with the game."

The award-winning Hirsch, 75, is an executive columnist at the Racing Form. He recently marked his 55th anniversary at the newspaper.

Hirsch, who has covered every Triple Crown race since 1956, plans to write a weekly column for the Form.

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Deeliteful Irving, who finished second to Sulamani in the Belmont Turf Classic, won't be shipping from Maryland to run in the Turf. ... English jockey Frankie Dettori has arrived early to get used to the Santa Anita layout. Dettori will ride Sulamani in the Turf, and Mezzo Soprano in the Filly & Mare Turf, which is being run at a California track for the first time. ... There will be superfectas on all eight Breeders' Cup races. The California Horse Racing Board gave the Breeders' Cup permission to use a superfecta in the Distaff, even though the defection of Azeri reduced the field to seven horses. To cash a superfecta, a bettor must correctly pick the first four finishers.

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