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Breeders’ Cup: What’s Next?

Please sir, I want some moreWith the 2008 Breeders’ Cup in the books, the focus shifts almost immediately to next year. Who will be retired? Who is coming back? What are they aiming for? We know the answers for a number of the winners (and contenders) already, but the list is far from complete. In no real particular order, here’s what’s next for some of the stars who ran last weekend:

Ventura held off Indian Blessing in the Filly & Mare Sprint — will we see either of them next year? No word yet. One imagines we will see much more of Maram, winner of the Juvenile Filly Turf, although I wonder if she’ll be shipped to Europe in search of more suitable races.

Upset Turf Sprint victor Desert Code could head to Hong Kong before ending his season, while Sprint winner Midnight Lute will likely be retired — trainer Bob Baffert suggested that there are simply no races in which to enter him. Fleeting Spirit, however, will be back for another try at the Turf Sprint next year.

The Dirt Mile was Albertus Maximus’ third start for Croat trainer and noted kinesiologist Vladimir Cerin; apparently we will indeed see him next year. It had already been determined that Lewis Michael would go to Three Chimneys for 2009, so he’s probably on his way there now. Well Armed may not have liked the pace on the day, but the tough gelding will keep on running.

Juvenile Turf winner Donativum has many options – but as a gelding one that is not open to him is the 2000 Guineas in England. As a result, trainer John Gosden may point him toward the Kentucky Derby – he confirms it’s an option they are seriously considering. Plans for Midshipman, winner of the more traditionally Derby-linked Juvenile, are perhaps more fluid – he may stay in the US, or he may be sent to Dubai.

If I had to pick a Derby horse at this point based on their two-year-old form leading up to last weekend, I’d only have one horse in mind. If I were choosing based on their performance in the Breeders’ Cup, it’s still the same horse — Stardom Bound. Unfortunately there’s still no official word whether she’ll still be sold in the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, but I’m hopeful her performance was enough to keep her racing, even if sold.

Filly & Mare Turf winner and Guinness enthusiast Forever Together is likely to remain in training next year, and Muhannak’s connections hope he will defend his victory in the Marathon again next year. Marathon favorite Sixties Icon, whose trainer, Jeremy Noseda, felt the horse received a poor ride from Frankie Dettori, will be headed to either the Japan Cup or the Hong Kong Vase next.

The very welcome news that we should see Goldikova aim for a repeat win in the Mile next year should dispel some of the gloom over the list of retirements; not only did she bring the most electrifying closing kick to the weekend (even outranking Zenyatta’s, in my opinion), but her connections make a fantastic story. How often does a jockey win the Mile on the same filly twice, then return years later as a winning trainer with another outstanding European filly? I’m looking forward to seeing more of Goldikova (although I was already a fan, having watched how she beat Henrythenavigator and how close she came to Zarkava), just as I followed Miesque. The lesson seems to be one worth learning: always bet the French-based filly (Miesque, Six Perfections, Goldikova) in the Mile.

Conduit is looking to repeat his win in the Turf next year; his connections seem to feel the St. Leger winner is improving with every race. It is likely we will see Soldier of Fortune next year, and Eagle Mountain still has a race or two left this season, likely in Hong Kong.

Both Henrythenavigator and Duke of Marmalade have been retired; it seems particularly a shame in the case of Henrythenavigator, since his second-place finish in the Classic hinted at distance abilities many (including me) had doubted he possessed. So it’s back to the usual refrain in his case — we’ll never know how good he might have been. We should see more of the rather-overlooked (at least by me) Tiago as well as Colonel John next season. Champs Elysees will also remain in training, although I would imagine he might head back to the turf.

As to the Filly & Mare Classic starters, so far Ginger Punch has been retired, but there is no decision yet for Godolphin mares Cocoa Beach or Music Note; neither one may be able to withstand Zenyatta, but I would love to see more of Cocoa Beach in particular.

There’s no word — so far — on the two biggest winners; both the Raven’s Pass and Zenyatta camps are quiet on what is next for their stars — and ditto for Curlin, who is back in Kentucky for a little time off before the next chapter (whatever that may be) begins. While I sincerely doubt we’d be lucky enough to get all three back next year, I’d be reasonably happy with two…

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