Grand Couturier One to Watch in Red Smith H.

(from Aqueduct report)
Marc Keller's Grand Couturier, a 3-year-old who was only beaten 2 ¼ lengths in Longchamp's Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I), is one to watch in the overflow field entered for Saturday's $150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Aqueduct turf course.

An overflow field was entered for the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith, the final graded stakes turf event in New York in 2006.

Keller purchased Grand Couturier after the French event, which has turned out to be a worldwide key race. .

Rail Link, the winner of the Grand Prix de Paris, returned to win the Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) and runner-up Red Rocks scored an upset in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs last weekend.

With such good European form, one would figure Grand Couturier to be a very tough customer in North American turf races. However, he has failed to finish in the top two in a pair of races on this side of the Atlantic.

In his first start outside France, Grand Couturier was beaten 3 ½ lengths in a troubled third-place finish in Saratoga's Sword Dancer (gr. IT). Trainer Bobby Ribaudo then sent him to Woodbine for the Sky Classic (Can-II) where he finished a non-threatening fourth.

"He got real tired in his last race over yielding turf at Woodbine," Ribaudo said. "I didn't do that much with him going into that race."

Ribaudo is not jumping to any early conclusions about the Grand Lodge colt, viewing this season as an important stepping stone to next year and beyond.

"He's going through an adjustment period," said Ribaudo, who trained privately for Keller in the 1980's. "He's got a big future ahead of him and from 4 to 6, I think he'll be the real deal."

Trainer Tom Voss will ship in a pair of runners from his Pennsylvania farm for the Red Smith, including Trillium Stable's Dreadnaught, the 2004 Red Smith winner, and Always First, owned by Merriefield Farm and Charles Noell.

Dreadnaught has not posted a victory in almost a year since taking the Laurel Turf Cup last November. The 6-year-old gelding has run two big races this year, coming up short in photos to Better Talk Now and Ashkal Way in the Dixie and Bernard Baruch (both gr. IIT). He finished sixth in his last race, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT).

Always First was purchased by his current connections over the winter and has won the Cape Henlopen at Delaware and finished third in Keeneland's Sycamore. Always First will be the 117-pound starting high weight if the race remains on grass.

Rousing Victory and Dave were the top two finishers from the Oct. 13 John Henry Stakes at The Meadowlands going Saturday's 11 furlongs.

Rousing Victory, who was second in last year's Red Smith, snapped a seven-race losing streak in the John Henry at 11-1. Dave has been a force in New York-bred races for most of the year, taking the Kingston back in May at Belmont.

$150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 6, 2:48 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Spider Power (IRE), 112, John R. Velazquez
2. Kurm (IRE), 114, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Rousing Victory (KY), 114, Cornelio H. Velasquez
4. Crown Point (KY), 114, Jose L. Espinoza
5. Embossed (IRE), 116, Larry Melancon
6. Dreadnaught (KY), 116, Jean-Luc Samyn
7. Request for Parole (KY), 114, Michael J. Luzzi
8. Dave (NY), 114, Joe Bravo
9. Islero Noir (FR), 114, Channing Hill
10. Grand Couturier (GB), 114, Mike E. Smith
11. Always First (GB), 117, Jose A. Santos
12. Green Lemon (KY), 112, Fernando Jara
Also Eligible
13. Bee Charmer (IRE), 114, Jose Lezcano
Main Track Only
14. Naughty New Yorker (NY), 118, (No Rider)
15. Angliana (KY), 116, (No Rider)
16. Chilly Rooster (FL), 115, (No Rider)

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