International Festival of Racing Notes (8/14/15)
Contact: Michael Adolphson
In today's notes:
O’BRIEN GOES FOR FOURTH SECRETARIAT WITH HIGHLAND REEL
Group I-placed Highland Reel will represent the powerful Coolmore operation and Ballydoyle-based Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien on Saturday in a salty renewal of the Grade I $450,000 Secretariat Stakes. Though a field of just seven entered the race, a case can be made for all – especially the aforementioned son of Galileo, whose conditioner has already won three editions of the race. After shipping in on Tuesday, Highland Reel got his first taste of Arlington International Racecourse on Thursday morning.
“They have done all this at home and are pretty laid back horses. They travel all the time,” T. J. Comerford, assistant to O’Brien, said of Highland Reel and Grade I $700,000 Beverly D.-bound stablemate Wedding Vow. “None of this bothers them. Our horse seems to be hardened to the whole thing and enjoying it. He looks well and I wouldn’t be looking towards anyone else or want to have any other horse. You bring him here because you think he is what he is – and he’s a decent horse and we’re hoping he wins.”
Last year, in the O’Brien yard’s third Secretariat victory, Adelaide represented the team as the heavy favorite and did not disappoint when sprinting clear of his rivals in the stretch. Previously, the powerful stable won with Treasure Beach in 2011 and Ciro in 2000.
“Adelaide was a lot cooler customer,” Comerford said. “He went to Australia after and took it all in stride. He was a handy horse, but this one (Highland Reel) is a fine, big Galileo. He was second in the French Derby and won a Group II at Goodwood at two. He’s been around and it stands to him that he has plenty of experience going into the race. He’s a decent horse.”
WOHLER BACK WITH WAKE FOREST IN MILLION
A relative unknown in a perplexingly competitive renewal of the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million, Wake Forest comes in with Group I form and a German trainer, Andreas Wohler, who has won the race before in 2001 with Silvano.
A son of Sir Percy, the lightly raced 5-year-old has won six of 10 starts and was third two starts back in the Group I $271,000 Presidente della Repubblica in Italy. Last out, he was a sharp winner of the Group III $61,000 Hamburg Trophy at its namesake course over the Million’s 1 1/4-miles distance, but is stepping up considerably in class Saturday.
“He’s an improving horse this year,” Wohler said. “It took a while to get him going again, but now he’s shown better form from race to race. If he keeps improving from his last race to this one tomorrow, then he should be in the mix.”
Unlike most of his European counterparts, who drew posts three, 11, 12 and 13, the emblazoned horse drew an enviable post five. He will be ridden by Eduardo Pedroza and has morning-line odds of 12-1.
Quotes are courtesy of Ron Flatter of RSN Australia.
GOLDSTREAM TEAM CONFIDENT IN SECRETARIAT CHANCES
After going 5-for-5, capped by the Group II $819,000 Italian Derby on May 17, Australian Bloodstock’s Andreas Wohler-trained Goldstream takes his show on the road to America for Saturday’s Grade I $450,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington International Racecourse. As a recent acquisition by the Down Under ownership, he will be making his first start for them, as well as Wohler, in an attempt to replicate the feats of Adelaide, who took both the Secretariat and the Group I Cox Plate in the ownership’s home country.
“He took a while to get going because he had a break after his last race and came over to us in Germany,” Wohler said. “The last three weeks he was flying and improving really well week by week, so we are quite confident tomorrow.
“The competition in the Italian Derby wasn’t too bad because the place horse had run in the (French Oaks) and didn’t run that bad,” he continued. “I think he’s a horse who keeps improving, as well. He’s a really talented horse. It’s hard to compare to the other European horses and especially the American horses, but he’s a highly talented horse.”
Goldstream attracted the services of one of the top jockeys from Australia, Brenton Avdulla. He breaks form post three and is assigned 9-2 odds as the fourth choice.
Quotes are courtesy of Ron Flatter of RSN Australia.
WAR DISPATCH SEEKS FIRM TURF IN AMERICAN DEBUT
One of the more intriguing and certainly one of the more charismatic horses on the grounds for the International Festival of Racing, Joseph Allen’s War Dispatch enters the Grade I $450,000 Secretariat Stakes as a major player for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. The sizable gray son of top American sire War Front was bred in Kentucky and exits two excellent performances. He shipped in last of all and cleared quarantine on Friday morning.
“(The traveling) went really well,” assistant trainer Philippe Megard said through a translator. “At the beginning he was anxious, but once they took off he was calm and just wanted to eat. That’s always a good sign. He’s kind of cheeky and likes the attention.”
War Dispatch will be taking on a familiar foe in the Secretariat when he lines up against Coolmore’s Highland Reel on Saturday. Two starts back, the pair finished second and third in the Group I $1,649,000 French Derby at Chantilly over 1 5/16 miles, with his Irish foe getting the better of him by just less than two lengths.
“I didn’t have time to look at the field,” Megard said. “I never do. There’s no stress that way. In the two last races, the ground wasn’t what he likes. He likes it firm, but it was a little wet in those races. (The Secretariat is) a race that fits him and he likes firm turf, so it made sense.”
Last out, the long-striding colt was second in the Group II $141,000 Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte over the same 10-furlong distance of the Secretariat. A free-roll race for the Secretariat to its winner, the Eugene Adam was won by Bayrir in 2012, who parlayed it into the same result at Arlington.
MAID ON A MISSION TO SET THE PACE IN BEVERLY D.
Longshot Maid on a Mission will hope to upset the applecart in the Grade I $700,000 Beverly D. at Arlington International Racecourse on Saturday. A recent purchase at Fasig-Tipton’s sale for horses of racing age, the daughter of Strategic Mission exits two off-the-board finishes in graded stakes company. Three starts back, she was a game second in allowance company behind Grade I-placed Kitten’s Queen. She will be making her first start for owner Loooch Racing Stable and trainer Peter Walder in the Beverly D.
“The theory is that the owner thinks that first time for me horses run remarkably better than they have previously and the numbers support that,” Walder said. “She’s going to show improvement, so why waste it on a $75-100,000 stakes is his thinking. She has some class and she finished behind (Kitten’s Queen), who came back and finished second in the (Grade I $500,000) Diana in July.
“We will try to get the biggest bang for our buck – hopefully she can stay on and get a piece of it,” Walder continued. “We will go to the lead with her. If we can try to open up a few turning for home, maybe we can hold on for a piece.”
In 27 starts, the 6-year-old bay mare has seven victories and earnings of $198,257. Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount from post seven at 30-1 morning-line odds.
CALVADOS SCRATCHED FROM AMERICAN ST. LEGER
Mom Celine LLC’s Calvados has been scratched from the Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger on Saturday. The Argentine stakes-winning who earned a free roll into the race after a game third in the Grade III $100,000 Stars and Stripes was 8-1 on the morning line. Trained by Ignacio Correas, IV, he was to make his 30th career start in the race.
“He got tied up after a two-minute lick this morning,” Correas said. “It’s unfortunate because we were looking forward to running. Maybe next year.”
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