Turf Update (10/1): Preps Here and Abroad

Horses headed for the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf at Arlington Park, Oct 26, will have their final major tuneups on both sides of the Atlantic this weekend as Longchamp, in Paris, presents Europe's most important 12-furlong race, the $1.5 million (est) Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), and Santa Anita offers the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial at 10 furlongs (gr-IT). Both races are for 3-year-olds and up.

There was little change in the World Thoroughbred Rankings after last weekend as extended turf action was quiet in Europe in anticipation of the "Arc" although a couple of Turf aspirants shipped to Woodbine for the $1.5 million Canadian International Championship (Can-IT). On the home front, Denon reversed a pair of narrow losses to With Anticipation, relegating the latter to sixth in Belmont's $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT).

Denon moved from ninth to tied eighth with Hawk Wing in the WTR after his 1/2-length victory in the Turf Classic while With Anticipation dropped from tied fifth to seventh after coming home sixth, 3 3/4 lengths behind Denon. Ballingarry, victorious for Aidan O'Brien's Irish stable in the Canadian International, moved into the 10th spot in the WTR after his 2 1/4 length success. Forty-eight hours later, Ballingarry had reportedly been sold by Susan Magnier to Sid Port, Marsha Naify and Emmanuel and Laura de Seroux. The latter will train Ballingarry in California.

Through Sept. 29 the Turf standings were still headed by two European runners, Golan, trained at Newmarket by Sir Michael Stoute, and Grandera, in the care of Saeed bin Suroor in the same East Anglian town. Between them, Stoute (Kalanisi, 2000) and bin Suroor (Fantastic Light, 2001; Daylami, 1999) have won the last three Turfs with Stoute also hitting paydirt with Pilsudski in 1996. Lord Weinstock, who died this year, raced Pilsudski and Golan races in the name of his executors.

Four-year-old Denon, who competes for longtime Bobby Frankel client Edmund Gann and the Niarchos Family's Flaxman Holdings, split horses in the upper stretch of the Turf Classic and showed an impressive turn of foot for Edgar Prado to gain a daylight lead at midstretch and then hold off fast-closing Blazing Fury. Timboroa, third in the Turf last year, raced as an entry with Denon and set the pace before tiring to last after a long layoff.

Jimmy Toner-trained Blazing Fury, fourth in the Turf last year, was doing his best work while With Anticipation showed little rally when Pat Day set him down and never got into the hunt. Trainer Jonathan Sheppard opined the less-than-firm ("good") turf course might have compromised his 7-year-old's chances.

Michael Kinane flew from Ireland to partner Ballingarry, O'Brien's first ever Woodbine runner, and drove the 3-year-old Irish-bred to a convincing victory. "I think this horse is improving again," said the rider, who won last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) with O'Brien-trained Johannesburg. "When you get a 3-year-old maturing at this point in the season and going forward, the sky's the limit."

Ballingarry finished third to stablemate High Chaparral (tied third on the WTR for the Turf) in the Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I) in June and most recently filled the show position in the Irish St Leger. Other Turf hopefuls to contest the Canadian International were second-place finisher Falcon Flight, raced by Gary Tanaka, and fifth-placed Zindabad, trained by Mark Johnston in Northern England.

Fab Five Contenders:

1) Sulamani/Pascal Bary/Niarchos Family
Next Start: Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

2) Denon/Bobby Frankel/EdGann and Flaxman Holdings
Next Start: Breeders' Cup Turf

3) With Anticipation/Jonathan Sheppard/Augustin Stable
Next Start: Breeders' Cup Turf

4) Aquarelliste/Elie Lellouche/Ecurie Wildenstein
Next Start: Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

5) Golan/Sir Michael Stoute/Exors of the late Lord Weinstock
Next Start: Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe