Goodbye, Sunday Silence. So long, Easy Goer and Golden Pheasant. Catch ya later, Criminal Type.
Racing, focused for weeks on the superstars missing the 1990 Breeders' Cup, finally turns its attention today to the 86 horses in the $10 million extravaganza at Belmont Park.A few absentees - Criminal Type, Housebuster, Summer Squall and Golden Pheasant - remain candidates for season championships and Horse of the Year. But by Sunday, the sport will be talking about a new generation of equine stars.
Among the starters are five of the seven 1989 Breeders' Cup race winners, five 1989 Eclipse Award titlists, two Canadian Triple Crown champions and the winners of the world's two most famous horse races - the Kentucky Derby and France's Arc de Triomphe.
On paper, the card shapes up as a bettor's fantasy, full of big, balanced fields and high-priced overlays.
Only the second of the seven races looks like a runaway. If so, that will hardly disappoint fans hoping Meadow Star, the undefeated odds-on favorite of the $1 million Juvenile Fillies, becomes another Ruffian.
Thirty minutes after the Juvenile Fillies comes possibly the best race: the $1 million Distaff and its anticipated duel between Go for Wand, the top 3-year-old filly and Horse of the Year hopeful, and Bayakoa, the nation's best older mare.
The $1 million Sprint was supposed to be the same kind of runaway expected in the Juvenile Fillies. But the season-ending leg cuts suffered by Housebuster a few weeks ago turned the leadoff race into a 14-horse free-for-all.
The 7-2 morning-line favorite is Dayjur, a speed demon European making his first start on dirt and his first trip around a turn. Among the horses who could benefit is 1989 Sprint winner Dancing Spree, who has not won a speed event since May.
Like the Sprint, the $1 million Mile and $2 million Turf are handicapping puzzles.
Steinlen, the 1989 Mile winner and Eclipse champion grass horse, may end up the sentimental favorite, but the race sets up better for one of several Europeans in the field.
The Turf favorite is Arc de Triomphe winner Saumarez, who could provoke a multi-national celebration. The 3-year-old races in France, was bred in England and belongs to American Bruce McNall, owner of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, and his star center, Canadian Wayne Gretzky.
A different mystery will be solved in the $1 million Juvenile for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Racing was left without an early favorite for the 1991 Kentucky Derby when Eastern Echo was retired. The 1 1-16-mile dirt stake, on paper a tossup between New Yorker Fly So Free and Californian Best Pal, will finally provide a winter book favorite.
This year's Derby winner, Unbridled, hopes to put himself back on top of the list of candidates for the 3-year-old championship and Horse of the Year title by winning the $3 million Classic.
The program choice at 4-1 was Woodward winner Dispersal, a former sprinter. But 1989 2-year-old champion Rhythm may well become the favorite. A victory by Rhythm probably would enable him to move past Housebuster, ailing Preakness victor Summer Squall and Unbridled to take the 3-year-old Eclipse Award.
The Cup will be televised by NBC between 1:30 and 6 p.m. EDT, but the first race is scheduled to go to post at 1:55 p.m. The Classic is set for 5:30 p.m.