A strong effort in the $500,000 Meadowlands Cup tonight at The Meadowlands racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., likely will propel Bob Meyerhoff's Concern into the lineup for the Oct. 28 Breeders' Cup Classic.
The 4-year-old colt became the only Maryland-bred to win the $3 million Classic last year and will give it another try "if it looks like we can win it," trainer Dick Small said yesterday.
That means Concern, who has finished off the board in his past two starts in California, will need a sharp return to form. In one of those races, he banged his head on the starting gate and dislodged a tooth. In the other, he didn't perform well for jockey Gary Stevens and is reunited tonight with Mike Smith, who won (( the New Orleans Handicap and Californian Stakes on the colt earlier this year.
The $3 million-earner has been turning in quick morning workouts at Pimlico Race Course and appears to be back in peak form.
Small also entered Concern in tomorrow's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, but only as a precaution in case the heavy favorite, Cigar, should scratch or the race at The Meadowlands is canceled.
"It's extremely unlikely he will run in the Gold Cup," Small said of Concern.
Small also entered Concern's stablemate, Looming, in The Meadowlands Cup, but figures to scratch him.
"He'll go along for the van ride. But I don't see running him unless Concern becomes unavailable," Small said.
With Looming out, there will be seven starters. Small said a quick pace, provided by speed horses Poor But Honest and the California 3-year-old French Deputy, will benefit Concern, who makes a trademark stretch run.
Small will have a busy weekend.
He also runs Up An Eighth in a filly and mare stakes on tonight's Meadowlands Cup undercard, races Thomas Bateman's Bug River on Sunday in the $100,000 Laurel Futurity at Laurel Park and possibly will start Meyerhoff's Tough Broad on Monday in Laurel's Grade III Martha Washington Stakes.
At the end of the month, Small ships a division of his stable to Churchill Downs for that track's 30-day fall meet and then goes onto New Orleans with the outfit.
Small's assistant, Brenda Jordan, will stay in Maryland with a second division.