Millennium Dragon May Breath Fire in Kelso

(from Belmont report)
Darley Stable's Millennium Dragon, a two-time winner on the Belmont Park Widener Turf course, has an edge in Saturday's $350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Hanidcap (gr. IIT) at a mile.

The Kelso is usually a key race on the road to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Millennium Dragon is not a proven stakes horse. The 4-year-old colt has the looks of an up-and-comer after wiring a third-level allowance field to score in a $56,000 allowance here last month.

"I think he could be covered up and win, too," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "I'm going to leave that up to Johnny."

Jockey John Velazquez, who won last year's Kelso aboard longshot Green Fee, takes over aboard Millennium Dragon, whose regular rider Richard Migliore will be in Kentucky to ride another McLaughlin miler, Trademark, in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT).

McLaughlin is keeping his fingers crossed.

"I'm hoping he keeps it going," the trainer said. "I think he's a very nice horse and I think he'll run well."

An interesting player in the Kelso is Pay The Preacher, owned and trained by Michael Dickinson. The 5-year-old gelding has been away from the races for almost a year, but his trainer is known for bringing runners back ready off a long rest.

When last seen, Pay The Preacher won the $100,000 Spend A Buck at Calder. His only start on grass was a victory going all the way on the lead in a $25,000 optional claimer.

"He should have run last week, but the Caesar Rodney was rained off the turf at Delaware," Dickinson said. "He's done a lot of training on the grass and it seems like he handles it all right."

Millennium Dragon and Pay The Preacher will not be huge prices in the Kelso, but figure to take less money than the likely favorite, Juddmonte Farms' Decarchy, who carries high weight of 118 pounds. He'll spots the field from two to seven pounds.

The 6-year-old horse, a half-brother to recently-retired Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, has not won since March of 2002 when he prevailed by a neck in the Kilroe at Santa Anita. Consistent in that he usually picks up a check, Decarchy will be making his first start in New York and figures to be a late threat with his good closing kick.

Tap The Admiral's two 2003 victories have come at a mile. He prevailed over Krieger and Slew Valley at Belmont this spring, then went to Churchill where he posted a mild upset in the Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT). Recently, the Pont Street Stable runner finished 10th in Woodbine's Atto Mile (Can-I), but returns to a course where he has always done well.

Alec Head's Rouvres, a group I winner in Europe at 3, is still seeking his first American stakes win. In five U.S. tries against graded company, he has finished second three times, including his recent run in the Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap.

$350,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT), 3 & up, 1 mile
PP., Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Decarchy (KY), 118, Jose A. Santos
2. Millennium Dragon (GB), 113, John R. Velazquez
3. Mercenary (KY), 112, Ariel Smith
4. North East Bound (KY), 113, Jose A. Velez, Jr.
5. Runspastum (KY), 111, Michael J. Luzzi
6. Pay the Preacher (FL), 111, Ramon A. Dominguez
7. Freefourinternet (KY), 113, Jose L. Espinoza
8. Political Attack (KY), 113, Aaron T. Gryder
9. Rouvres (FR), 115, Corey S. Nakatani
10. Del Mar Show (KY), 116, Julian Pimentel
11. Proud Man (FL), 114, Jerry D. Bailey