Sandy scrambles Breeders' Cup plans
The Breeders' Cup is relaxing its rules to accommodate horses stranded in New York because of Hurricane Sandy.
All horses running in the races at Santa Anita normally must be on the grounds 72 hours before race time. With the hurricane raging, a flight scheduled to leave Tuesday carrying several of trainer Todd Pletcher's runners was postponed until Wednesday, putting horses entered in Friday's races outside the 72-hour window.
For the first time, the Breeders' Cup will allow those horses to compete. Agents from the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau will accompany the horses on the flight to monitor all activity and ensure all other rules are followed, especially with respect to medication.
''They will be under surveillance from the time they leave to comply with the 72-hour rule,'' said Craig Fravel, the Breeders' Cup president. ''The horses racing on Saturday will be within the 72-hour rule. We're very hopeful those horses have a smooth trip out here.''
Seventeen horses arrived Monday morning following a flight that left Newburgh, N.Y., at 1 a.m., eight hours earlier than initially scheduled to avoid the rain and high wind. The airport also was a last-minute change, replacing Islip on Long Island that was more directly in the path of storm.
The contingent included the powerful quartet of Flat Out, Ron the Greek, To Honor and Serve and Royal Delta for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Royal Delta is the defending champion in the Ladies' Classic, while the other three are entered in the $5 million Classic.
The flight included horses for Chad Brown, Shug McGaughey, Mike Hushion, Michael Trombetta and Diane Alvarado.
Groupie Doll dazzled the clockers Monday morning at Santa Anita, zipping three furlongs in 34.40 seconds in preparation for the Filly & Mare Sprint. It tied for the fastest of 19 workouts at that distance.
The 4-year-old trained by Buff Bradley has won four straight stakes since adding blinkers that restrict the field of vision to help a horse focus better. The victories include the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs and the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland.
She was a decisive winner in all four, with the margin of victory ranging from 3 to 6-1/2 lengths.
This will be Groupie Doll's first start west of Kentucky. Based on the workout, she looks up to the challenge.
''She did it all on her own,'' exercise rider Jada Schlenk said. ''I didn't ask her at all. I just gave her a little nudge at the quarter pole. She likes this track.''
Groupie Doll drew post No. 9 for the $1 million race at seven furlongs.
Trainer Dale Romans faced decision time Monday morning when entries for the Breeders' Cup closed. He had pre-entered Dullahan and Little Mike in two races on Saturday and now had to declare his intentions.
He will run Dullahan in the Turf instead of the Classic on the main track.
''It was just a surface decision,'' Romans said of Dullahan, winner of the Pacific Classic and Blue Grass Stakes, both on synthetic tracks. ''He seemed to work a little better on the turf. His gallop out was stronger.''
Little Mike was committed to run on the turf. The only question was how far. Romans opted to enter the front-running winner of the Arlington Million in the Turf, as well. He felt the 1-1/2 miles played to his strengths better than the Mile.
''It came down to the pace scenario,'' Romans said. ''The Mile looks like the tougher race on the card and there is plenty of speed in there already. We felt like the downhill slope of the course will help him stretch out in the Turf.''