Thursday, June 12, 1996

By Vince Bruun

Key Of Luck, a superstar at his stomping grounds in Dubai, remains a possible starter in the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup (Gr. I) on Sunday, June 30.

Stakes Coordinator Doug Bredar said he has had frequent discussions with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, and the conditioner hasn't ruled out the Gold Cup for the 5-year-old son of Chief's Crown.

Key Of Luck has been plagued by a bruised foot, the ailment forcing him to miss the June 1 Massachusetts Handicap.

"He'll have an important workout this weekend at Belmont Park," Bredar said. "Kiaran will have a better idea once he sees the horse work."

McLaughlin, a former D. Wayne Lukas assistant, reportedly is considering either the Gold Cup or the $500,000-guaranteed Suburban Handicap (Gr. I) on July 4 at Belmont Park.

Key Of Luck has won six of 14 starts and caused a stir on the day of the $4-million Dubai World Cup when he won the mile and-a-quarter Dubai Duty Free Invitational by 20 lengths in 2:03 4/5 -- which equalled Cigar's winning time in the World Cup an hour later.

Most recently, Key Of Luck finished second to Star Standard in the May 11 Pimlico Special Handicap (Gr. I).

With Cigar officially out of the 57th Gold Cup, the role of favorite has been passed to Burt Bacharach's Soul Of The Matter.

Trainer Richard Mandella could be excused if he was doing handstands and cartwheels after hearing the news.

"My tears just dried up," Mandella said. "It took me an hour."

Mandella, however, said he understood the disappointment of fans and management over Cigar's not coming to Hollywood Park.

"Anytime you don't have Cigar, it's going to be less of a race," he said. "He's the horse of a lifetime. He's the marquee.

"That's racing, though. (Bill Mott) can't come here with a horse that isn't perfectly sound."

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; Key Of Luck,** no rider, and Tejano Run, no rider.

* Eligible for the $2-million MGM Grand Classic Crown bonus.
** Must be supplemented at $25,000 before June 19.

Evergreen Farm's Fastness has deservedly received most of the pre-race attention for Sunday's $700,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile. But a fresh Romarin might have something to say in the outcome of the Grade II grass race.

Romarin, a hard-hitting Brazilian-bred, has won 10 of 23 starts and has trained exceedingly well for his return. At the top of his work chart are a bullet :57 4/5 five-furlong move on the dirt May 22, and a bullet 1:27 2/5 seven-furlong work on the turf June 6.

"He's a tough horse when he's good, and he's good (right now)," said trainer Richard Mandella.

Romarin hasn't raced since finishing sixth as the 17-10 favorite in the March 3 Arcadia Handicap (Gr. II). But the stocky son of Itajara was diagnosed with a throat ulcer following the race, and Mandella said that problem has been corrected.

Although one mile would seem to be right in the wheelhouse of the speed-crazy Romarin, the trainer said that isn't necessarily so.

"I've always said that, too," he said. "But you know, if you look at it, he's won a lot of his races at a mile and-a-sixteenth and a mile and-an-eighth," Mandella said. "But the distance isn't my biggest concern."

One might assume that his biggest concern is Fastness.

Wednesday's developments: Juddmonte Farms Tychonic drilled five furlongs in 1:02, handily, for Hall-of-Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.

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: Score Quick, no rider.

Three-year-old fillies haven't exactly been coming out of the woodwork for Sunday's $100,000-added Princess Stakes, but the field was up to five runners for the Grade II event at 1 1/16 miles.

The presence of Kentucky Oaks (Gr. I) winner Pike Place Dancer is the major reason that confirmed entrants are light, but fillies such as Najecam and Listening figure to make the expected favorite hustle.

Najecam is a vastly improved filly with speed in her corner. The daughter of Trempolino was claimed for $25,000 in January and has come to hand for trainer Vladimir Cerin. She finished third in the May 26 Honeymoon Handicap (Gr. III) on turf, holding the lead into the deep stretch before yielding stubbornly to Antespend and Clamorosa.

Listening, from the powerful Ron McAnally barn, is another who merits respect. The daughter of Night Shift reeled off consecutive wins at Santa Anita and then finished fifth in the April 27 Senorita Stakes (Gr. III) at Hollywood Park. The latter was her first race on turf and her first try around two turns.

Confirmed for the Princess Stakes (Gr. II), 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-old fillies: Heptathlon, Brice Blanc; Karakorum, no rider; Listening, Chris McCarron; Najecam, Chris Antley, and Pike Place Dancer, Corey Nakatani.

At first glance, Bill M. Thomas' Real Connection appears to be a formless mare, doing little more than pick up the pieces in filly and mare stakes races on dirt and turf.

Take a closer look, though, and the horses who have been beating Real Connection -- i. e. Serena's Song, Alpride, Wandesta, Pharma, Borodislew and Auriette - reads like a who's who in the West Coast distaff division.

Perhaps in Sunday's $100,000-added Estrapade Stakes -- which falls between the Grade I Gamely and Grade I Milady Handicaps in the filly and mare stakes ranks -- Real Connection will find a more accommodating bunch. There are some talented runners expected for the 12-furlong turf event, to be sure, but none of the Grade I-type horses which Real Connection has been facing the last several months.

"At least that's what we're hoping," said trainer Mel Stute, who snapped to life last week with two wins. "That's why we decided to run in this one (the Estrapade) rather than last week's (Gamely Handicap)."

Probables for the Estrapade Stakes, 1 1/2 miles on turf, for fillies and mares: Dynatar, Chris McCarron; Fanjica, Alex Solis; Gift To The World, Corey Black; Magic Feeling, Corey Nakatani; Nimble Mind, Eddie Delahoussaye, and Real Connection, Brice Blanc.

FINISH LINES: Radu Cool, who was scratched from Sunday's Gamely Handicap, worked a mile in 1:42 2/5 Wednesday and will race coupled with Borodislew in the $200,000-added Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday, June 23, trainer John Shirreffs said . . . Afternoon Dellites breezed a half-mile in :49 with Corey Nakatani up and remains on course for the $200,000-added Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (Gr. III) on June 30 . . . Larry The Legend logged his second wotkout on the comeback trail Wednesday, drilling three furlongs in :36 1/5 at Santa Anita with Joy Scott in the irons . . .Trainer Marty Jones said he was en route from New York to Los Angeles when Auriette captured the Gamely Handicap in runaway fashion. "When we landed at LAX my (cellular) phone was ringing, but I was afraid to answer it," he said. "After what happened in New York (Ski Dancer finishing fifth in the Just A Game Breeders' Cup) I didn't know if I could handle another loss. But I answered, and it was dad (Gary Jones) telling me that Auriette had won. That changed my mood in a hurry!" . . . Class Kris, who finished first in the Just A Game but was disqualified and placed second for interference, might be shipped to Hollywood Park for the Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap . . . Defending champion Sandpit is scheduled to ship to New Jersey on June 19 for the $500,000-guaranteed Caesars International Handicap (Gr. I) at Atlantic City on Saturday, June 22 . . . Possible Gold Cup starter Tejano Run will run in Saturday's Stephen Foster Handicap (Gr. II) at Churchill Downs.

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