The Morning After: 'No Disgrace' for Bernardini in Classic Upset

By Ron Mitchell and
Steve Haskin

Trainer Tom Albertrani said Sunday morning that he was "disappointed" by the second place finish by Bernardini, the 11-10 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, but that the 3-year-old colt did not disgrace himself.

"He ran well; no disgrace," said Albertrani. "He was fresh coming into the race. I am naturally disappointed...I think Flower Alley was kind of laying on him in the first turn and he just made a move where he wanted to stay out of trouble. He ran well."

Also, Albertrani said no decision has been made on whether Bernardini will continue to race as a 4-year-old in 2007 or if he will be retired to stud. He said Bernardini and Balletto, fourth in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), will both remain in Kentucky until a decision is made on their respective futures. "In the next couple of days, they will decide the future of both horses," Albertrani said. "No doubt, they just get better with age."

Albertrani said if his horse, owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable, was not going to win the Classic, he was pleased that another member of the Maktoum family – Sheikh Hamdan, who operates Shadwell Stable – was the winning owner.

Assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin, subbing for brother Kiaran McLaughlin, said the victory by Invasor was "amazing. Our feet haven't hit the ground yet."

Kiaran McLaughlin left Louisville for New York at 6 a.m. Sunday. While plans have not been finalized for Invasor, but that he believed the horse would remain in training in 2007 and be pointed toward the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).

The trainer said he believed that Invasor likely sewed up Horse of the Year honors with the Classic victory, but that Berardini was the probable top 3-year-old male. "We're proud of him. He had a great year."

Albertrani was among a handful of trainers on the backside of Churchill Downs Sunday morning reflecting on Saturday's outcome and future plans.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, winless with 17 starters Saturday, said Fleet Indian was stable Sunday morning after suffering a suspensory injury in the Distaff. He said she will remain at a veterinary clinic for three days before being given 30 days of stall rest.

Despite getting shut out in the winner's circle, Pletcher labeled it a "good day," with his horses accounting for three second-place finishes, three thirds, and earnings of nearly $2 million. "It was a typical day of racing where you have ups and downs," he said.

Of plans for some of his runners, Pletcher said Flower Alley has been retired to stud at Three Chimneys Farm. He said Octave, runner-up in the Juvenile Fillies, "ran as good as any horse on the card." Pletcher said the filly had been training well but the race "didn't play out the way I thought."

Pletcher said that Lawyer Ron, making his first start since being sent to the trainer, was too headstrong in his ninth-place finish in the Classic. "I thought we had it worked out," he said of the colt's personality trait.

Meanwhile, over at Barn 28 trainer Wayne Catalano was still riding a euphoric high from the victory by Dreaming of Anna in the Juvenile Fillies. "It's a good feeling, for sure. In this game, you just get the job done and then see how everything comes out and hopefully get ready for the moves. This is what we get up at 4:30 for, 365 days a year."

Catalano said he would consider the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) for the filly's 2007 campaign, but added that she will likely continue racing on grass, where she had excelled before being moved to the main track.

Trainer Doug O'Neill, who won the TVG Sprint (gr. I) with Thor's Echo, said Lava Man, seventh in the Classic, bled slightly in the race but that was not an excuse for his performance Saturday.

He said Thor's Echo had a lot to overcome in his return to the winner's circle. "He had no stride to him and was body sore coming from Dubai," O'Neill said of Thor's Echo. "He's come back as good or as better than ever."