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  • Saturday, August 12, 2000

    Lodge Hill thwarts Scatter the Gold's bid

    By DAN RALPH -- Canadian Press

     TORONTO -- This time, when jockey Todd Kabel asked Scatter the Gold to shift it into overdrive, there was nothing there.

    The late kick that powered the muscular dark brown-bay colt to victory in both the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales Stakes was noticeably absent Saturday in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes turf race at Woodbine Racetrack. And with that went Scatter the Gold's bid to become just the seventh Triple Crown champion in Canadian thoroughbred racing history.
     
     Instead, it was 7-2 second choice Lodge Hill that had the late burst, exploding in the final quarter mile for a comfortable three-length victory over Master Stuart. Scatter the Gold, the 3-5 favourite who was fifth with a quarter mile remaining, came on to take third spot by a neck.
     
     Lodge Hill won the 11/2-mile race 2:28 4/5ths and paid $9, $5.10 and $3. Master Stuart returned $6.90 and $3 while Scatter the Gold paid $2.10.
     
     The remaining finishers, in order, were Allende, For Our Sake, Red Satin Slippers and Pete's Sake.
     
     Kabel knew he was in trouble on the way to the starting gate because Scatter the Gold was sweating profusely despite little humidity in the air.
     
     "He wasn't the same horse that I've got used to," said Kabel, who rode Scatter the Gold in all three Triple Crown races. "At the top of the stretch I thought we were going to be a bad fourth or fifth.
     
     "He wasn't giving me a turn of foot at all."
     
     And that left trainer Mark Frostad scratching his head.
     
     "He might have been tired after the last race (Prince of Wales Stakes on July 23 in Fort Erie, Ont.)," said Frostad. "That's the only thing I can think of.
     
     "He ran well, he ran his race. He didn't have the same punch as he usually does at the head of the stretch."
     
     Scatter the Gold becomes the fifth horse to win both the Queen's Plate and Prince of Wales, only to come up short in the Breeders' Stakes. In 1998, Archers Bay won the opening two legs of the Triple Crown before owner Eugene Melnyk elected to bypass the Breeders' event to race in the U.S.
     
     But Melnyk had no such intentions for Lodge Hill. In fact, he and trainer Todd Pletcher began planning to have Lodge Hill run in this event shortly after purchasing the horse two years ago.
     
     And with good reason. Lodge Hill's father, Cozzene, was a noted turf runner.
     
     "Eugene kept asking me about the Queen's Plate (where Lodge Hill finished sixth) and I said that it was probably worth a try but I thought the Breeders' was the race we had the best chance of winning," said Pletcher. "He's meant for the grass and is just getting started over a mile and a half.
     
     "That (spoiling Scatter the Gold's Triple Crown bid) really didn't enter into the equation because this was a race we were pointing this horse towards for a long time. We were here because it was the right race for our horse."
     
     In fact, Lodge Hill's impressive run Saturday has Pletcher thinking about running the horse in the $1 million International turf event in October at Woodbine.
     
     The victory improved Lodge Hill's career record to two wins, a second and third in seven starts. Six of those races have been on turf, including both victories, and Saturday's $300,000 winner's share boosted his career earnings to $340,630.
     
     American Jockey Mike Smith registered his second Canadian Triple Crown race win here. In 1997, he guided Awesome Again to the Queen's Plate victory.
     
     By finishing third, Scatter the Gold earned Sam-Son Farm of Milton, Ont., $55,000. But that figure pales in comparison to the $850,000 Sam-Son Farm would've made had Scatter the Gold won Saturday ($300,000 race winner's share, $500,000 Triple Crown bonus and $50,000 breeder's bonus).
     
     Still, it has been a magical run for the son of Dance Smartly, the 1991 Triple Crown champion.
     
     When Scatter the Gold entered the Queen's Plate in June, he was winless in four starts with earnings of $20,574. Two months later, the horse had two victories under its belt and had won over $840,000.
     
     "We're not overly disappointed," said Frostad. "He made us very proud this year and is a terrific horse.
     
     "He dug in, he was trying all the way. He probably took a little breather (Saturday) but I think he is going to be a very nice horse."



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