ESPN to Have Coverage of Breeders' Cup Prep Races

Edited press release

With the 2006 Breeders' Cup World Championships five weeks away, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association will launch the "Emirates Airline Countdown to the Breeders' Cup" series this Saturday on ESPN. Scheduled for three consecutive Saturdays, the shows will present key prep races to sort out the contenders from the pretenders for racing's championship day.

Scheduled for Saturday is live coverage of the grade I, $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship and the grade I, $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, both from Oak Tree at Santa Anita; the grade II, $250,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap from Belmont Park; and the grade II, $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic from Turfway.

In addition to coverage of the races, Saturday's show will also present a preview of several internationally-based horses expected to compete in the Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Sept. 30, 4-6 p.m. ET, ESPN:

Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT)--the Richard Mandella-trained The Tin Man, winner of last month's Arlington Million (gr. IT), heads a likely six-horse field that also includes T. H. Approval, who is coming off wins in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) and Sunset Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT). The Tin Man is currently fourth in the John Deere Turf (gr. IT) Division of the Breeders' Cup World Championships Poll. Artiste Royal, who was second in the Del Mar Handicap, also will run, as will Don Incauto, Fantastic Spain, and Quinquin the King. The 1 1/4-mile race for horses three years old and up is part of the John Deere Turf Division.

Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT)--The Todd Pletcher-trained Wait a While, the country's premier 3-year-old turf filly who is currently third in the Emirates Airline Filly and Mare Turf Division of the Breeders' Cup World Championship Poll, heads back to Southern California where she won the grade I American Oaks in July. Wait a While is on a three-race win streak, having triumphed in the Lake Placid Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga, following the American Oaks (gr. I) and the Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont prior to the race at Hollywood Park. Set to challenge Wait a While is Dancing Edie, who won the grade I John C. Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in July. Rounding out the field are Bond Deal, Candy Factory, Life Live, Memorette, Singalong, and Three Degrees. The 1 1/4-mile contest for fillies and mares three years old and up is part of the Emirates Airline Filly and Mare Turf division.

Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT)--Ashkal Way, who has won four of five starts in the U.S., including the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga, squares off with Meteor Storm, who has not raced since last December when he won the W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder. Other possible competitors include Art Master, Baron Von Tap, Drum Major, Free Thinking, Old Fortune, T.D. Vance, and Friendly Island. The one-mile turf contest is part of the NetJets Mile division.

Kentucky Cup Classic--Perfect Drift, preparing for an unprecedented fifth run in the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), seeks his first win of the year following a fourth-place effort in last month's Pacific Classic (gr. I). Challenging Perfect Drift will be Premium Tap, winner last time out at odds of 31-1 of the grade I Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga; and Good Reward, who followed a second-place finish behind Lava Man in the Pacific Classic with a fifth-place effort in the Brooklyn Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT). Other starters should include Gouldings Green, Greeley's Galaxy, and It's No Joke.

Hosting from Oak Tree at Santa Anita will be Kenny Mayne, joined by analysts Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss and reporter Jeannine Edwards. Reporting from Belmont Park will be Joe Tessitore and Hank Goldberg. On hand at Turfway Park will be Kenny Rice and Quint Kessenich.

Emirates Airline Countdown to the Breeders' Cup (subject to change)

Sept. 30, ESPN, 4-6 p.m.

Clement Hirsch Turf Championship (Turf, Oak Tree at Santa Anita)
Yellow Ribbon Stakes (F/M Turf, Oak Tree at Santa Anita)
Kelso BC Handicap (Mile, Belmont)
Kentucky Cup Classic (Classic, Turfway)
International Segment (All, Europe/Dubai)

Oct. 7, ESPN2, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Jockey Club Gold Cup (Classic, Belmont Park)
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (Turf, Belmont Park)
Vosburgh Stakes (Sprint, Belmont Park)
Goodwood BC Handicap (Classic, Oak Tree at Santa Anita)
Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (Juvenile, Keeneland)
Shadwell Turf Mile (Mile, Keeneland)

Oct. 14, ESPN, 4-6 p.m.

Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (F/M Turf, Keeneland)
First Lady Stakes (F/M Turf, Keeneland)
Frizette Stakes (Juvenile Fillies, Keeneland)
Champagne Stakes (Juvenile, Belmont Park)
Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (Turf, Newmarket)
International Segment (All, Europe/Dubai)