Breeders’ Cup 2018: 2yo Sippican Harbor Puts in Final Work

Final Work for Breeders’ Cup Put in Before Noreaster Hits

Lee Pokoik’s Sippican Harbor, a stylish winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway, put in her final Breeders’ Cup prep this morning covering seven furlongs in 1:28.65 seconds under exercise rider M.C. Brock at Belmont.

“She’s a willing work horse but I did work her in company with a turf horse that needed a work and she blew his doors off. It was a good combination. She broke off about five lengths behind him and took off at the sixteenth pole and hit the wire about five lengths in front. She does it so easy,” trainer Gary Contessa said.

Contessa is enjoying a tremendous Belmont fall meet with 18 wins, good for second in the standings. Sippican Harbor will mark the conditioner’s fourth Breeders’ Cup starter and he’s relishing the opportunity to compete with a legitimate contender.

“I go out there and buy ten 2-year-olds every year. I don’t have the bench some of my peers have, so it’s a phenomenal opportunity,” Contessa said. “I’ve been to the Breeders’ Cup three times, but this is my first time going with a legitimate opportunity to win the race. She’s a such a level-headed filly. I’m in a great place. They’re going to have to be better than her to beat her, because she’s not some one-dimensional speed horse or a drop dead closer – you can put her anywhere. She’s a 2-year-old with the mind of a 5-year-old.”

With Joel Rosario slated to ride Jaywalk in the Juvenile Fillies, Contessa has lined up Irad Ortiz, Jr. to pilot Sippican Harbor.

“I’ve been doing this long enough to know that every top rider has multiple choices in every Breeders’ Cup race,” Contessa said. “I’m not the only one it’s happened to, but to have Irad is an even swap. I’ve won a lot of races with Irad, so I’m thrilled. The alternative is not a bad thing.”

Former Claimer Gearing Up for Breeders’ Cup

Trainer Barclay Tagg has sent out eight previous Breeders’ Cup starters and will be looking for his first winner when he saddles Cassies Dreamer in the Juvenile Fillies and Verve’s Tale in the Distaff at Churchill Downs.

A 2-year-old daughter of Flatter, Cassies Dreamer was claimed for $50,000 out of her maiden score on August 3 at Saratoga. Tagg claimed the dark bay filly at the behest of owners Turf Stable Racing (Rusty Jones) and Hayward R. Pressman. Since the claim, Cassies Dreamer has kept steep company, finishing third in both the Grade 1 Spinaway and Grade 1 Frizette.

“I haven’t claimed a horse in 40 years. I was never really interested in claiming horses, I like to buy horses and develop them and go that route,” started Tagg. “So, I said, ‘let me take a look at her.’ She walked down the path from the barn over to Saratoga, and that’s like walking the gauntlet with all the kids and people over there. I thought if she walks through there and looks alright to me, I’ll go ahead and claim her. As soon as I set eyes on her, wow, what a gorgeous filly. Just a big, strong strapping filly. I had to take her. I put the claim in, we got her, and she won the race. And she really hasn’t done anything wrong since. Everything she does is in the right direction.”

Following a bit of trouble at the gate in the Spinaway, Cassies Dreamer came from last of 11 to get within 2 1/4 lengths of Juvenile Fillies-rival Sippican Harbor.

“It takes time trying to load a lot of babies into the gate and they have to fuss with them to get their head straight. I’m not blaming anyone at the gate, it’s just a tussle sometimes and she came out of it slow and it cost her. I figured it was all over and we’d try and develop her on from there. All of a sudden, she was coming and maybe could have won it with a bit of a better start,” said Tagg.

On Friday morning, Cassies Dreamer worked in company with Brucia La Terra, runner-up in the Frizette last time out, covering four furlongs in 48.44 seconds over the Belmont main track. Brucia La Terra will make her next start in the Grade 3 Tempted on Opening Day at Aqueduct.

“I’ve worked them together pretty much every work and I was very happy with how they went this morning,” Tagg said. “I feel good about her [going into the Breeders’ Cup]. You never know until you get them in against the heavy hitters, but she’s held her own so far. She’s a young filly but she’s trained well and done everything we’ve asked her to do. We’re really pleased with her progress.”

Pressman and Jones are new clients for Tagg and the veteran conditioner has enjoyed the partnership. At their suggestion, Manny Franco will take over from Junior Alvarado.

“The owners asked me if I’d ride Manny and I said yes. So far, saying yes to them has been working out,” Tagg said with a laugh.

Charles Fipke’s homebred Verve’s Tale will make her Breeders’ Cup debut in the Distaff. The 5-year-old Tale of Ekati mare has yet to win in five starts this campaign but will go into the Distaff off a rallying third in the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational.

“She’s a tough, old gal. She’s as honest as the day is long. She likes to come from off the pace. If you let her lay up close, she doesn’t have as good a finish. It’s a little hard with 14 horses to come from off the pace but the good riders and good horses can do it,” Tagg said.

Brian Hernandez, Jr. will take over from Manny Franco aboard Verve’s Tale at Churchill Downs and be tasked with finding a winning trip.

“She’s pretty honest. If you ease her back and just wait and wait and wait on her, she’ll finish strong for you,” Tagg said. “She won a stakes race [the Summer Colony] at Saratoga doing that, only by a nose, but she gets there. You never know what can happen in a big field.”

Verve’s Tale breezed five furlongs in 1:01.37 this morning on the Belmont main.

“I asked them to go off in 12 and change and finish up in a minute and they were pretty close to it. She galloped out strong,” Tagg said.

Source: NYRA

Great Horse Racing Videos – 2018 Spinaway won by Sippican Harbor

Sippican Harbor to train up to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Lee Pokoik’s Sippican Harbor is in good shape following her impressive last-to-first, two-length win in Saturday’s Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga, trainer Gary Contessa said Sunday morning.

The 2-year-old filly by Orb won her second straight start after breaking her maiden by 17 lengths on August 12 at Saratoga. The victory came after placing fifth in her debut on grass on July 22 at the Spa.

“She’s good. I’d say a little tired,” Contessa said. “We’re not going back to the turf anytime soon, but I do believe she’s just as good on the grass as she is on the dirt. So, the time may come where she does double duty.”

Sippican Harbor will head to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 4 at Churchill Downs and will train right up to the race.

“We’re just going to work, I’m not going to run her again [until Churchill],” said Contessa. “She deserves a break. I ran her 20 days apart to get her ready. Two months to get her to the Breeders’ Cup? Piece of cake.

“I’m definitely excited. I was crushed when she lost on the turf, I didn’t think she could possibly lose, that’s how much I loved her,” he added. “I thought she was phenomenal. Everything she’s ever done, she’s done like a super horse. There’s a little bit of a stigma attached to Orb that he’s throwing grass horses, so I just went with it, and thought ‘oh we got a turf horse here,’ but her dirt works and her turf works were sensational. It’s thrilling to be in this position. It makes getting up in the morning a lot easier.”

The performance by Sippican Harbor was exactly what Contessa said he was hoping to see from his young filly. Now, with two impressive victories from three starts, the questions about her talent have been answered.

“We went to the champagne room and it [race replay] just kept playing and playing and playing. I love the call where he [race-caller Larry Collmus] said ‘and she’s the real deal!’ I love that because that’s exactly what I was thinking at that point. She’s the real deal because going in, I wasn’t positive. You could take a really good boxer and he beats up a chump and he looks really good doing it, but when you throw him in with Mike Tyson and he’s knocked out in the first round. We had to see this to believe it.”