Saturday, September 27, 2008 12:00 AM
By Eric Wing
FLORENCE, KY . . . September 27, 2008 . . . Fresh off a maiden score going long at Monmouth Park in his debut, West Side Bernie showed that his initial success was no fluke, scoring a solid three-length victory as the 9-5 favorite in the $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3). Final time for the race was 1:44.22 for the mile and one sixteenth.
Owned by Lori and George Hall and trained by Kelly Breen, West Side Bernie took a stalking position under Stewart Elliott, running three-wide and just off the early pace set by Proud Jefe and Retap. West Side Bernie remained in the three-path around the far turn and confidently ranged up to the leaders nearing the top of the stretch before drawing off to his comfortable victory. Retap hung on for second, another three lengths ahead of Gresham in third.
For Breen, the win by West Side Bernie could mean a trip to the October 25 $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. It also helped soothe the disappointment of getting beat with favored Bold Union in the Juvenile Fillies.
"If all goes well, we’ll make some phone calls and get to California," said Breen. "We had him here just as a backup plan (with Bold Union expected to do well). When I told George (Hall, the owner) that we were going to bring him here I think he thought I was crazy, but I told him I think the horse has a lot of talent. He likes the distance and he likes the surface, so I think we're going to go to 'The Show' (Breeders’ Cup)."
Jockey Stewart Elliott certainly has no objections to tackling tougher foes at the Breeders' Cup with West Side Bernie. "He was running comfortable behind those horses around the turn. Then I asked him and he responded beautifully," said Elliott. "It was the first time I was on him and I knew he ran a race routing, so that's a big edge, especially that he won doing it. The experience from this race being on the synthetic track should help him in California."
West Side Bernie paid $5.60 to win as the betting choice in the field of seven.
The complete order of finish in the Juvenile: West Side Bernie, Retap, Gresham, Just Like Biscuit, Tar Beach, Proud Jefe and Sir Bubba.