Starcraft Owner Thinks Grass is Greener on Dirt

Paul Makin, managing partner of The Australian Syndicate, has gotten a pretty healthy return on investment on Starcraft, the 5-year-old New Zealand-bred horse purchased as a yearling for $50,000. On Oct. 29, he'll go for broke--but he seems to really like his chances.

Starcraft, by Soviet Star, will make his dirt debut in the $4-million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I). His owners opted for the Classic rather than the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) even though Starcraft, a winner of more than $2.3 million, has seven wins in nine career starts at one mile on the grass.

This year's Mile features last year's winner, Singletary, and Leroidesanimaux, a Brazilian-bred who has won eight of nine starts in the United States, four of them at a mile on the turf.

"I really didn't want to go in the Turf," Makin said Oct. 25 during a Breeders' Cup luncheon in New York City. "I would like to race against Leroidesanimaux, but I don't achieve anything if I beat him. It would be a much bigger achievement to race on dirt for the first time and make history."

Makin said Starcraft worked for the first two years on sand, and was believed to be a "three lengths a better horse" on sand. Dirt is different, though Starcraft seems to handle it in workouts, he said.

"He works well on dirt, but whether he'll race well on it remains to be seen," Makin said. "If he handles the dirt, he'll win."

When asked about his horse's chances in the Classic, Makin said Starcraft is 5-2 to win--if he handles the track.

"I've had a terrific battle with common sense, and finally, stupidity won," Makin said with a laugh. "He does love soft ground, and I think he'd be suited for the Mile. ... I think if you've really got a good horse, you should try to excel. I'd like to give him a last challenge to transit from turf to dirt, because he has never been on it."

Luca Cumani has trained Starcraft in his last four starts, three in Great Britain and one in France. In his last two starts, Starcraft won the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-I) in France and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) at Newmarket in England. Previously, he was trained to numerous stakes wins in Australia and New Zealand by Newham Garry.