Hap's 1 1/2-length victory in Sunday's $500,000 Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile H. (gr. IIT), coming from third in the field of nine under Jerry Bailey, was his fourth graded stakes win of the year and appeared to set him up perfectly for the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). Bill Mott, who trains the son of Theatrical for the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust, wasn't so sure.
"The Mile is the obvious choice, but it may not necessarily be the best choice," he said. Also under consideration is the Turf (gr. IT) as Hap came home second to Silvano in the 10-furlong Arlington Million (gr. IT) in August.
Another Mile probable, Brahms, was an unlucky fourth at Keeneland, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, while Mile possibles Quiet Resolve and North East Bound, second in the Mile last year, were in the beaten field.
On the same afternoon at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, Val Royal and Jose Valdivia Jr. rallied from last in the field of seven to run down pacemaking I've Decided in the $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile on firm turf. "This horse has an amazing turn of foot," said Valdivia.
Julio Canani, who trains the French-bred for Hollywood producer David Milch, would like a chance to duplicate the Oak Tree Mile-BC Mile double he completed with another French-bred, Silic, two years ago.
"Off that performance he deserves a chance at the Mile if he comes out of this well," said Milch.
Bobby Frankel-trained Thady Quill, who failed to win his fourth consecutive race, finished second at Oak Tree, while another Mile hopeful, 9-5 favorite Redattore, trained by Richard Mandella and third in the Arlington Million last time, came home fifth.
In Europe, China Visit upset even-money favorite Jim and Tonic in Saturday's mile Prix du Rond-Point (Fr-II) in very soft going but will be going to Dubai for the winter rather than to Belmont Park. Godolphin have probable European mile champion Noverre to carry their silks in the Mile.
Globetrotting Jim and Tonic finished well from the rear for Thierry Thulliez in going that greatly favored horses on the lead. "In that ground he is a group III horse and on good ground a group I horse," said trainer Francois Doumen of his likely Mile participant. "We will take him home and then decide (if he goes to Belmont)."
Another Mile probable, Khalid Abdullah's Banks Hill, was withdrawn from Sunday's Prix de l'Opera (Fr-I) because of the going but is still considered likely to cross the Atlantic for trainer Andre Fabre.