Trainer H. James Bond confirmed Thursday morning that Behrens
missed his scheduled workout over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga and will be scratched from Saturday's Massachusetts Handicap (gr. II).
Bond said Thursday that Behrens, installed along with stablemate Pleasant Breeze as the morning-line MassCap favored entry, has been ailing from a stone bruise on his left front foot. Bond said the injury is not considered serious enough to threaten Behrens' racing career. The trainer said the horse will have to alter his schedule over the next several weeks.
"I think I did the right thing for Behrens," Bond said. "I feel bad for the MassCap. We'll regroup and go forward now. The Breeders' Cup [Nov. 4] is foremost. The Whitney [Aug. 6] is also very important. Behrens was beaten a nose twice at Saratoga and we'd very much like to win that race. Races with historic significance are important to me. The MassCap, the Whitney, those races are historic. Who knows? If all goes well maybe this time next year we'll bring Behrens back for the MassCap at age seven."
Bond also confirmed that Pleasant Breeze, the other half of his entry, will start in the MassCap. "He galloped a mile and a half, very workmanlike. We're just sharpening him up to get ready to go in the ring on Saturday."
With Behrens scratched, Running Stag will likely inherit the role of favorite in the MassCap. The 6-year-old son of Cozzene got a feel for the track Thursday, breezing three furlongs in :37 1/5 seconds over a surface labeled fast. Running Stag earned a bullet for the work, the fastest of four at the distance Thursday.
Vision and Verse, who will break from post position two under Jerry Bailey, completed his final major preparation for the race Wednesday morning at Belmont Park. The Bill Mott trainee, who won last year's Illinois Derby (gr. II) before finishing second in both the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Travers Stakes (gr. I), breezed a half-mile in :48 3/5 seconds over the fast main track. The work was the fastest of 19 at the distance Wednesday. The 4-year-old son of Storm Cat enters the MassCap off a 3/4-length victory in a Churchill Downs allowance race on May 4. (More, Boston Globe
With the defection of Behrens, who had drawn the inside post position, the other eight horses will move in one position each. There will be no revised morning-line odds posted. The MassCap field consists of:
1. Gander, Shaun Bridgmohan, 110, 15-1
2. Vision and Verse, Jerry Bailey, 113, 6-1
3. The Groom Is Red, Marlon St. Julien, 109, 15-1
4. Makeyourselfathome, (no rider named), 107, 30-1
5. Out of Mind, Eddie Delahoussaye, 114, 9-2
6. David, Aaron Gryder, 113, 5-1
7. Pleasant Breeze, Jorge Chavez, 111, 8-5
8. Running Stag, John Velazquez, 116, 5-2