EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- No Breeders' Cup for Concern.
That was the sentiment of trainer Dick Small last night after the champion Maryland-bred colt finished third, 4 1/2 lengths behind the winning Peaks And Valleys, in the $500,000 Meadowlands Cup at The Meadowlands racetrack.
Jockey Julie Krone hugged the rail with Peaks And Valleys, the lone 3-year-old in the 1 1/8 -mile stakes, and opened a commanding lead after passing pace-setting Poor But Honest at the top of the stretch. Poor But Honest held on for second, two lengths in front of Concern, whose customary late rally fell short.
Mike Smith swung three horses wide with Concern, but said that didn't cost him the race.
"He just didn't unleash his run," Smith said of the Bob Meyerhoff-owned colt. "We know what Concern can do, and tonight, he just didn't fire. He didn't extend himself over this racetrack and I don't know what's the matter. Maybe Mr. Small does."
Concern's greatest victory occurred last year in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Classic when he upset Preakness winner Tabasco Cat. But this year he appears to have gone off form after knocking his head on the gate and cutting his mouth July 2 in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Small seemed to rule out another try in the this year's Classic, set for Belmont Park on Oct. 28.
"Not off this race," Small said. "It wasn't very encouraging, although I do have to talk this over with Mr. Meyerhoff. This horse will be around next year. Maybe '96," Small said, referring to a possible try in the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic. "Right now, we have to regroup."
Smith said he's "naturally" disappointed that Concern won't go in the Breeders' Cup.
"Right now, I don't have a Classic horse," he said. "I ride Star Standard [against Cigar today in the Jockey Club Gold Cup]. So, maybe that will be the horse."
Looming, Small's other entry in the Meadowlands Cup, finished fifth. Small originally had intended to scratch the horse, but when two other starters, French Deputy and Unaccounted For, came out of the race, Looming stayed in. Concern picked up $50,000 for third and Looming earned $15,000 for fifth.
The entry of Concern and Looming went off the 9-5 favorite over Peaks And Valleys, who was the third choice. Peaks And Valleys won the Derby Trial this spring but skipped the Kentucky Derby because of problems with his feet.