Phoenix Looks To Be Beau's Town

Beau's Town, a winner of four of five starts this year, is the one to beat in the $250,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) as Keeneland opens its fall meet Friday. Under the allowance conditions of the race, the 5-year-old gelding will carry topweight of 124 pounds against seven rivals as the Central Kentucky track gets its rich Fallstars weekend underway.

Beau's Town's start was a 1 1/2-length victory in the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar on July 26. The Cole Norman-trained gelding got the six furlongs in a sizzling 1:07.96 under 119 pounds. So powerful the performance, Beau's Town finished as the 6-1 second choice to sprint division leader Aldebaran in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) future pool.

His other victories in 2003 have all come in stakes events: the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III), the Pelleteri Breeders' Cup Handicap, and the King Cotton Stakes. He finished second, by only a head, in the Aristides Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.

Taking on Beau's Town, who will break from post 4, will be Out of My Way, Great Notion, Strength and Honor, Ethan Man, Take Achance On me, Najran, and Dubai Sheikh.

Beau's Town, bred in Arkansas by Bryant H. Prentice III and owned by Robert L. Beck and David Hulkewicz, will be ridden by Pat Valenzuela, who just wrapped up the riding title at Del Mar, his third straight Southern California meet crown.

Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton's Great Notion returns to Keeneland off a neck defeat to Valid Video in the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 23. It appears to be a flattering effort considering the third-place horse that day was Ghostzapper, who came back to dismantle older rivals by 6 1/2 lengths in last weekend's Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Earlier this year, Great Notion ran a dull ninth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. From the first crop of Elusive Quality, Great Notion has a 3-4-0 career slate from eight starts. He is trained by Darrin Miller.

Ethan Man is another Keeneland returnee. The 4-year-old son of Glitterman was fifth in last April's Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II). In his lone start since then, he won a six-furlong allowance race at Arlington Park on Aug. 27. Pat Byrne trains the bay colt for West Point Thoroughbreds.

Najran, who blew away the track mark for a mile at Belmont on May 7 posting a 1:32.24 clocking, will get a change of pace in the Phoenix. The Nick Zito-trained son of Runaway Groom has been beaten in his last three starts by Aldebaran. Racing at seven furlongs and a mile since January, he shortens up to six furlongs for the first time since his maiden win back on Jan. 1, 2002.

The Phoenix is the oldest stakes race in the United States. It dates back to 1831, but has not been run continuously.

Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. III), six furlongs, $250,000, 3-year-olds and up, Friday, Oct. 3.
PP, Horse, Jockey, Wgt., ML
1--Out of My Way, Curt Bourque, 122, 10-1
2--Great Notion, Pat Day, 116, 3-1
3--Strength and Honor, Edgar Prado, 118, 8-1
4--Beau's Town, Pat Valenzuela, 124, 8-5
5--Ethan Man, Rene Douglas, 118, 5-1
6--Take Achance On Me, Cornelio Velasquez, 118, 30-1
7--Najran, Javier Castellano, 122, 7-2
8--Dubai Sheikh, Robby Albarado, 122, 20-1