Stories of sport

Frankel covers bases


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Rain or shine, trainer Bobby Frankel has a trio of older horses ready for Saturday's crowded $250,000 Cup at Hollywood Park.

Northern Quest, Sumitas*, and Super Quercus, all stakes winners this year, will represent the red-hot Frankel.

They face 10 others, including Kudos, a course specialist; Kerrygold, a veteran of turf marathons; and Blazing Fury, the 3-year-old who was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park in October. There will be three two-horse entries because of common ownership. Northern Quest and Super Quercus are owned by Charles Kenis and Audrey Skirball-Kenis and will be favored. Sumitas and Lord Jim are both owned by Gary Tanaka, while Red Baron's Stable owns Kerrygold and Monsajem.

The running styles of Frankel's trio complement one other. Sumitas is a front-runner, Northern Quest is a stalker, and Super Quercus will come from farther back.

If the course remains soft or yielding following rain on Thursday, the horses near the pace may have a better chance.

Because of the potential for wet conditions, Northern Quest may be Frankel's best chance in the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup. A 6-year-old, Northern Quest won the Golden Gate Breeders' Cup Handicap over a soft turf course last March, but has lost four subsequent starts. In the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap over 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita on Oct. 28, he was third after closing from the back of the field. “It was his first out in a while,” Frankel said. “In the soft, he'll be a little closer. I know he'll favor it.”

Sumitas won two stakes on soft and heavy turf in Germany in 1999, but was seventh in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap over a good course at Saratoga in July. Sumitas won the Grade 2 Knickerbocker Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 26 over a very firm course.

“It would be nice if there was no pace so he could relax,” Frankel said.

The oft-injured Super Quercus has not started since winning the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 22, rallying from 11 lengths off the pace to win by a length as a heavy favorite. He has not won beyond 1 1/4 miles, but was a game third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 25, losing by 1 1/2 lengths.

There are two shippers – Blazing Fury and Williams News, who has joined trainer Jenine Sahadi's stable. Blazing Fury is the lone runner who started in the Breeders' Cup Turf. He never threatened race winner Fantastic Light, but did close from 10th to finish fourth by 7 1/4 lengths. The 6-year-old Williams News won the Grade 3 Elkhorn Stakes over 1 1/2 miles at Keeneland last April.

Kerrygold and Kudos can post upsets.

Kudos was second in the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf in July and won the Jim Murray Handicap over 1 1/4 miles in May. He was a fast-finishing second in the Steinlen Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 11, a race trainer Richard Mandella considered a prep for the Turf Cup.

“In the Steinlen, he finished well,” Mandella said. “I though that would set him up well for this. At a mile and a half, he'll be the pace or close to it.”

Kerrygold led into the stretch of the Burke before being caught by the Mandella-trained Cagney, who was unplaced in the Japan Cup last weekend. Trainer Darrell Vienna said Kerrygold will start if the turf course is in good shape. Kerrygold has a five-race losing streak dating back to the San Marino Handicap

“The only thing that would concern me is if [the course] wasn't right, but hopefully they can work on it,” he said. Vienna missed Kerrygold's last start, while traveling to a sale in England.

“It sounds like he just got caught,” Vienna said. “He's doing very well.”

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