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Out West, This May Be High Chaparral Turf

The 4-year-old, who has 10 victories in 13 starts, will be the first repeat winner of the $2-million race if he finishes first today.

October 25, 2003|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

High Chaparral will be trying to accomplish what four horses before him couldn't do: repeat in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Lashkari, the inaugural winner at 53-1 in 1984; Fraise, who surprised at 14-1 in 1992; Chief Bearhart, the prompt 19-10 favorite in 1997, and Buck's Boy, who went wire to wire at 7-2 in 1998, all came up short a year later.

Buck's Boy fared the best. He was third, behind Daylami and Royal Anthem, in 1999 at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. Lashkari, Fraise and Chief Bearhart all finished fourth.

What fate awaits High Chaparral will be determined today when the 4-year-old son of Sadler's Wells seeks his 10th victory in 13 starts.

Owned by Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, High Chaparral, with a bankroll that already tops $4.56 million, is facing a stronger field today than he did at Arlington Park a year ago.

Over a yielding course, the Irish-bred looked to be in trouble around the far turn as the 9-10 favorite, but his class told in the final quarter of a mile, and he won by a little more than a length over With Anticipation.

He will be on firm ground in Arcadia, on a turf course that has baked under months of hot weather.

His trainer, Aidan O'Brien, who has a pair of Breeders' Cup victories, isn't concerned about the conditions.

"We used to think he needed some ease in the ground, but he's handled fast ground much better this year," O'Brien said. "He's only been beaten three times in his life, and all three times he's been beaten have been [over] right-handed [turf courses]. It's very possible he's better going left. He's able to change leads much quicker and quickens much better going left."

A horse familiar to High Chaparral and O'Brien will be among the eight trying to prevent a repeat. Falbrav, who has four Group 1 wins this year in England and France, was second, a neck behind High Chaparral, in the Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 6.

An Irish-bred son of Fairy King, Falbrav was also pre-entered in the Classic, but his connections decided to stay on a surface where he has won half of his 24 starts and earned more than $4.2 million.

The 5-year-old, who will be ridden by Breeders' Cup rookie Darryll Holland, will be trying to give trainer Luca Cumani his second Breeders' Cup win. He won the Mile with Barathea in 1994.

Among trainers, only Wayne Lukas and Shug McGaughey have had more winners in the Breeders' Cup than Neil Drysdale. One of his six victories was provided by Prized, who made a successful turf debut, taking the 1989 Turf at 8-1 under a brilliant ride by jockey Eddie Delahoussaye.

Grass was a novel surface to Prized but Storming Home, Drysdale's entrant in 2003 and the 5-2 morning-line favorite, is a seasoned veteran with a home-court advantage.

A winner of eight of 23, the 5-year-old Machiavellian horse won the Clement Hirsch here three weeks ago.

"He's the most gifted turf horse I've ridden," said jockey Gary Stevens, who was injured when Storming Home veered out near the finish of the Arlington Million. "If he was a dog, I would take him home and put him in my backyard. He really doesn't have a mean hair in his body.

"He's very, very intelligent. He's very alert with things that go on around him, and the reason he is so alert is because he's such a natural athlete.

"I came back sooner than I should have, knowing that I was going to have to come back soon to be 100% for the Breeders' Cup. I felt I was 95% last week. If I'm not 100% right now, if I'm 95%, he'll make up the other 5%. Obviously, I like this horse a lot."

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