Bob Lewis, who owns Silver Charm with wife Beverly, said Thursday the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will make his next start in the $1-million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
This effectively kills Hollywood Park and the Thoroughbred Owners of California’s plan to double the purse of the $500,000 Swaps Stakes, a Grade II race which is scheduled for July 13.
The track and the owners’ group had proposed a $500,000 bonus for the Swaps, contingent on Touch Gold, Silver Charm and Free House, the first three finishers in the Belmont Stakes on June 7, all participating.
Silver Charm, three-quarters of a length short of winning the Triple Crown, is still at Churchill Downs but is expected to return to trainer Bob Baffert’s barn at Santa Anita within the next few days.
Lewis said barring anything unforeseen, the gray son of Silver Buck will next appear in the Haskell, then continue on to the $750,000 Travers on Aug. 23 at Saratoga.
“If everything with [Silver Charm] goes well, we’ll be there,” Lewis said. “They’ve elevated the purse of the Haskell [from $750,000 to $1 million] and it’s a Grade I. We’re not trying to hide from anybody.
“From Beverly’s standpoint and my standpoint, we have a very kind feeling for the Haskell. We won it two years ago with Serena’s Song and last year, Dr. Caton lost by a half-length to Skip Away. He almost went wire-to-wire, and it was a great accomplishment on the part of Dr. Caton to run that competitive a race with Skip Away.”
What’s more, Monmouth Park honored Serena’s Song a week before this year’s Belmont, inducting the sport’s all-time, leading money-winning female, trained for the Lewises by Wayne Lukas, into its Hall of Champions.
Lewis also took strong exception to a report that he and his wife would put up $480,000 and supplement Silver Charm to the $4-million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 8 at Hollywood Park if the colt is doing well at that time. Silver Charm and many other of the nation’s top horses, including Siphon, Gentlemen and Skip Away, aren’t Breeders’ Cup eligible.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Lewis. “There’s absolutely no truth to that whatsoever.
“When I pay $480,000 to supplement a horse, walk me around the block or do something to get me back to my senses.”
Dave Hofmans, Touch Gold’s trainer, said no decision will be made on the Belmont winner’s next race until sometime next week. Obviously, the Swaps or the Haskell is most likely.
Successful in three of his four starts this year and much-troubled in his only loss--in the Preakness--Touch Gold will have his first work since the Belmont late next week, according to Hofmans, who will talk with majority owner Frank Stronach before a decision is made.
Informed of Lewis’ statement that Silver Charm would run next in the Haskell, Hofmans was asked if that might have any bearing on where Touch Gold runs.
“A little bit,” he said. “We would like to run against him again, but we were hoping it would be here. The decision will be made based on how our horse is doing, his foot [he suffered a quarter crack in the Preakness and a patch was put on a couple of days later], his condition and how he trains.
"[The Haskell] is worth $1-million and it’s a Grade I, and that’s very important, but he’s stabled here and this is a track where they’re going to have the Breeders’ Cup and this would be his only chance to run over it between now and then. There’s a lot of things to think about.”
Karl Webster, a trainer Jenine Sahadi often credited with helping the development of 1996 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Eclipse champion Lit De Justice, is working with Labeeb these days.
One of the nation’s top turf horses who won his first four starts in this country for trainer Neil Drysdale, Labeeb has recently turned into a head case. He ducked out and lost rider John Velasquez on the far turn of the Manhattan Handicap on June 7 at Belmont Park. Earlier, while working on the Hollywood Park turf course, he threw his exercise rider and failed to complete two drills before running second in the Early Times Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs.
“We’ve only had about four days of training so far,” Webster said. “But the four days haven’t been as bad as I expected. We just wanted to get him relaxed and enjoying himself. If he does do anything, we can get after him and help him through it.
“He has pulled up a little when we gallop him, so we just get after him and go on with him. He seems to be doing well. He’s been really good in his stall, feeling good and eating well. That’s the main thing. There’s been no problems yet. We just need to get his mind where he has a lot of confidence out there.”
Horse Racing Notes
Funontherun, who won the San Rafael Stakes on March 2 at Santa Anita, will have surgery next week to remove a bone chip from his right front knee. The gray colt will be out for at least three months, said Mel Stute, who trains Funontherun for brother Dave and Herb Alpert. . . . Talloires, who will make his next start in the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup on June 29, worked a mile on turf in 1:36 Thursday morning. Alex Solis, who will ride the 7-year-old for the first time in the Gold Cup, which will be Talloires’ first race on dirt, was aboard for the work. “He really impressed me,” Solis said. “It was like being on a Rolls-Royce. He did it so easy and worked so fast, it was very impressive. I can’t wait for this race.” Talloires is one of four trainer Richard Mandella is scheduled to run in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup, along with Siphon, Gentlemen and Sandpit.