The $300,000 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meet, which already figured to include Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, might have gotten another big-name horse Sunday when trainer Todd Pletcher told the Daily Racing Form that Quality Road, a disappointing third in Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga, will prep for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in either the Goodwood or the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 3.
It appears that Summer Bird, who won the Travers by 3 1/2 lengths while earning a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure, will prep for the Breeders’ Cup in the Jockey Club Gold Cup because of the availability of jockey Kent Desormeaux, who would have to choose between Mr. Sidney or Summer Bird if the Belmont winner runs in the Goodwood because it’s the same day as the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, in which the Bill Mott-trained Mr. Sidney is expected to be a major player.
Summer Bird also already has shown a fondness for Belmont’s main track, having turned in a powerful victory in the Belmont Stakes in June. Trainer Tim Ice said that would also have to be a major factor in the decision.
“He loves Belmont,” Ice told the Racing Form. “Why not take a chance in the Gold Cup, and we’ll see how he fares on the Poly (Santa Anita) once we get him out there and train him.”
The Goodwood, a 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 race on Oct. 10 that will be run over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic surface, may also include such Southland-based horses as Hollywood Gold Cup winner Rail Trip, Santa Anita Handicap winner Einstein, 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers winner Colonel John and perhaps Tiago, who did not take to the grass in his turf debut last Wednesday at Del Mar.
Rail Trip, Einstein and Colonel John are all scheduled to race in Sunday’s $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar, a 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 event on Del Mar’s Polytrack surface.
* The Daily Racing Form also reported that Santa Anita president Ron Charles expects to announce major changes to the Sunshine Millions format sometime in September.
The Sunshine Millions, a series of eight stakes races restricted to California and Florida-breds worth $3.6 million that is annually held in January at both Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, figures to be hit by a drastic cut to its purse sizes because of an economy that racing officials contend is the major reason for a decline in handle. Because of that decline, purses in California have been slashed during the past two years.
There’s also a chance some of the Sunshine Millions races could be shelved for a year until the economic climate improves.