Nearly 17 months after bursting onto the international racing scene with an unlikely victory in the group I French Derby, the world-renowned Sulamani has traveled to Belmont Park. His goal: Saturday's 27th running of the $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational (gr. I).One of the world's leading turf horses with six victories and more than $3 million in earnings, Sulamani is expected to face Deeliteful Irving and entrymate Balto Star, Lunar Sovereign, Polish Summer, Sabiango and Slew Valley in the 1 1/2-mile turf race.
A victory by the Godolphin-owned, Irish-bred Sulamani in the Turf Classic would set the 4-year-old up for a big run in next month's John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf. Using the 12-furlong Turf Classic as a "prep" for the big dance is a proven way to go.Four Turf Classic winners have gone on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf. They are: Manilla in 1986, Theatrical in 1987, Tikkanen in 1994 and Buck's Boy in 1998. Turf Classic also-rans have also had some success in the 18 runnings of the Breeders' Cup. The most notable was 1992 Turf Classic runner-up Fraise, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf in his next start.Sulamani, a son of Hernando-Soul Dream, by Alleged, has compiled a record of 2-1-0 from four starts this year. He began the season with the biggest victory of his 10-race career, beating an international cast in the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I). He failed to win his next two races, finishing fifth as the favorite in the group I Prix de Saint-Cloud and second in the King George, but rebounded with a win in the Arlington Million (gr. I) Aug. 16.It was two years ago when trainer Andreas Wohler made headlines in the U.S. with Silvano, the 2001 Arlington Million winner. Wohler believes he has the goods with Silvano's younger half brother, Sabiango, and has shipped the German-bred overseas for the Turf Classic."Sabiango is a stayer; he wants to go a mile and a half," said Wohler on Wednesday morning. "He's a classy horse. He's been very good to us."Sabiango has won five of 12 starts and a little more than $400,000. His two biggest victories both came in Germany where he won the group I Grosser Kolner Pokal and the group I Deutschlandpreis. Even though Sabiango has never started in the U.S., Wohler says the son of Acatenango will stack up well with the local competition."German racing is not well known, but there are many good horses in Germany," Wohler said. "I wouldn't have brought him over here if I didn't think we could win."
Lunar Sovereign won the grade I Man o'War Stakes at Belmont Sept. 6. He is undefeated in four starts on the Belmont turf. "The thought is he's doing great and he 4 for 4 at Belmont," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "I've never trained a horse that could accelerate like that on turf. I worked with Star of Cozzene when I was with (Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas) and he had a great turn of foot, but I've never trained one like Lunar Sovereign."PP., HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1 Polish Summer, Andre Fabre, John Velazquez, 126
2 Slew Valley, Gary Sciacca, Javier Castellano, 126
3a Balto Star, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 126
4 Lunar Sovereign, Kiaran McLaughlin, Richard Migliore, 126
5 Sabiango, Andreas Wohler, David Flores, 126
6a Deeliteful Irving, Michael Dickinson, Joe Bravo, 126
7 Sulamani, Saeed bin Suroor, Jerry Bailey, 126