Breeders' Cup president D. G. Van Clief.

Breeders' Cup president D. G. Van Clief.

Championships on Course for Oct. 27

Security personnel will be out in force, but other than that, it appears the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is full-steam-ahead for Oct. 27 at Belmont Park, officials said Wednesday afternoon.

"It's great to be back in New York and working with our old parters at the New York Racing Association," Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. said during a teleconference from New York.

The event was last held in New York at Belmont in 1995. This year, despite the situation brought on by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center's twin towers in nearby Manhattan, response from horsemen has been fantastic, officials said, with 104 individual pre-entries, 19 of them from Europe.

NYRA president Terry Meyocks said security will be heightened (about 200 extra police officers will be on hand), and other measures such as a ban on coolers and backpacks will be implemented. Other than that, it's business as usual, he said.

"We just want people to come out and have a good time," Meyocks said.

Whether owners from overseas will be on hand at Belmont to watch their horses remains to be seen. Questions have been raised about the travel plans of several major owners from Arabian Gulf nations, where many of the Sept. 11 terrorists are from. However, managers or trainers for those owners could not confirm their probability of attending.

"Sheikh Mohammed never discussed his travel plans," said Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin, the vast operation owned by Dubai's ruling family, the Maktoums. "He's given me no indication he will be coming or won't be coming."

"Ditto," said Bob Baffert, who trains for The Thoroughbred Corp., owned by Saudi Arabian Prince Ahmed Salman.

"I was thinking of saying ditto before Baffert said it," said Bobby Frankel, who trains for Juddmonte Farms, owned by another Saudi prince, Khalid Abdullah.

Van Clief said no owners have requested extra security. But he also said Breeders' Cup is a "sports organization, not a diplomatic or political organization." Only the normal reservations have been made by the staff, he said.