MOTT RULES CIGAR OUT OF GOLD CUP, CHAMP HAS NOT RESUMED TRAINING
Trainer Bill Mott officially declared Allen E. Paulson's Cigar out of the June 30 Hollywood Gold Cup on Tuesday.
Cigar, who won the 1995 Gold Cup en route to Horse of the Year honors, came out of the June 1 Massachusetts Handicap with a bruise on the heel of his right fore foot and has not resumed training. Winner of 15 straight races, Cigar had been scheduled to attempt to tie Citation's modern-day North American record of 16 consecutive wins in the Grade I Gold Cup.
"He's not going to make the Gold Cup on the 30th of June," Mott said from his office at Belmont Park. "We're sorry about this, however, it couldn't be helped.
"We're running out of time now," Mott added. "We haven't had him back on the track. It's nine days now. You've got to have a certain rhythm and we don't have that going for us right now. The problem is actually a little more than we bargained for. We feel he's doing better, but he's progressing slower than we hoped.
"He will be back. It's one of those things, he'll be fine. But you're delaying your training schedule and you can't have too many delays when you're going for this type of race. For every day you lose, it takes two days to make it up. We don't mind time between races, but you've gotta be training in between."
Mott said Geri will now be pointed to the Gold Cup.
Probables for the 57th running of the Hollywood Gold Cup -- second leg in the MGM Grand Classic Crown: Helmsman, Chris McCarron; Mr Purple,* no rider; Siphon, David Flores; Soul Of The Matter, Corey Nakatani; Tinners Way, Eddie Delahoussaye, and Geri, Jerry Bailey.
Possible: Luthier Fever, Brice Blanc; Dare And Go, no rider, and Key Of Luck,** (no rider).
* Eligible for the $2-million MGM Grand Classic Crown bonus.
** Must be supplemented at $25,000 before June 19.
The 42-year-old trainer claimed Unusual Heat for $80,000 out of Monday's second race -- winning a shake with Mike Mitchell for the rights to the 6-year-old horse -- and will wheel the son of Nureyev right back in Sunday's $700,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (Gr. II).
For most trainers, such a quick turnaround would be unthinkable. But it's common practice for Abrams, and he's had a great deal of success with the manuever. Slews Royal Son recently won three races in a 12-day period.
"We claim horses to run 'em, not look at him," Abrams said.
Unusual Heat (14-5-2-2-$112,503) won Monday's race by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $3.20 as the prohibitive favorite. It was his fourth start for Richard Mandella and his first in a claiming race. Unusual Heat began his career in Ireland for trainer Dermot Weld.
"He's got a good confirmation, he sold for $250,000 at the 1992 Barretts sale and his mother (Rossard) was Horse of the Year in Sweden," Abrams said. "If nothing else, he has potential as a sire."
Abrams, whose highest claim was $100,000 for The Tender Track in 1994, took Unusual Heat on behalf of Jim and Madeline Auerbach of Bell Canyon, Andy Hillis (Team Green) of Hidden Hills and Russell Walker of Encino.
Early probables for the $700,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile, to be run Sunday, June 16 (124 pounds): Debutant Trick, Kent Desormeaux; Fastness, Corey Nakatani; Joker, Rene Douglas; Romarin, Chris McCarron; Tychonic, Eddie Delahoussaye; Atticus, Brice Blanc, and Unusual Heat, no rider.
Possible: Abre Alas, no rider.
Scott was aboard when Larry The Legend recorded his first official workout last Thursday (3 furlongs in :37) since winning the 1995 Santa Anita Derby. Owner/trainer Craig Lewis' popular colt never made it to the Kentucky Derby because of a knee injury.
"He's fat and sassy, just getting back into shape," said Scott. "He's something. Going off with the pony, it felt like I was sitting on an explosion. But, at this point, we're just keeping it quiet and easy. It's not time to light the fire. He's going nice and cool."
Scott says she has become Larry's "unofficial" official exercise rider because Lewis knows she won't be bugging him to ride the 4-year-old if and when he makes it back to the races. She says Larry The Legend is as intelligent a horse as she has been around.
"I walked past his stall the other day," noted Scott, "and I said, `Hi, Larry.' He turned, looked at me, and I'm sure he smiled."
FINISH LINES: Petit Poucet will ship to Churchill Downs for the $175,000 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday, June 30, trainer Ben Cecil said. The Firecracker is a Grade III at one mile on the turf course. Cecil also said Gold And Steel remains firm for the $500,000 Caesars International at Atlantic City on Saturday, June 22 . . . Trainer Ron McAnally worked Mr Purple a half-mile in :48 1/5 Tuesday in a drill for the Hollywood Gold Cup . . . Richard Mandella worked Romarin five furlongs in 1:00 in his final work for Sunday's Shoemaker Breeders' Cup . . . Exotic Wood worked a half-mile in :48 1/5 and trainer Ron Ellis still plans to ship the filly to Monmouth Park for the $200,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap (Gr. II) on July 4.
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