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Thursday, October 24, 2002
Contact: Notes Team (847) 385-7472/7473
Debut Horsemen Attempt Breeders' Cup Glory
In 1984, seven trainers walked away from the inaugural Breeders' Cup with the winner's trophy. Since then 20 more trainers have triumphed in one of racing's highest honors with their first starter, setting the precedent for the 17 conditioners who will make their debut in Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Trainer Patrick Byrne raised the bar even higher for first time trainers when he captured the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile with Favorite Trick and '97 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Countess Diana, catapulting himself into the national spotlight.
On Saturday, Laura de Seroux could break Byrne's record when she saddles three runners, including Azeri, the likely favorite for the Breeders' Cup Distaff, while Ronny Werner has a chance to equal the feat should Most Feared win the Bessemer Trust Juvenile and Touch Tone take the NAPA Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Werner, who began his training career with Quarter Horses, began the quest to make it to the big dances, along with primary owner Tom Durant, when he started sending horses outside of their native Texas. The national racing audience began to take notice of Werner when he ran his first horses at Keeneland during the 2001 spring meet and won with five of his seven starts and had one third.
The hot streak continued when City Street won the Three Chimneys Juvenile on the Kentucky Derby undercard and by the time Touch Tone nearly defeated Horse of the Year Point Given in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, the secret was out on the Werner-trained horses.
"This has been great," said Werner of his first Breeders' Cup experience. "We're having a lot of fun. This is where we wanted to be and we started focusing on getting here. We know we're very fortunate. You need luck, but you also have to make your own luck. It makes it even better knowing that we have two horses that belong here."
Like Werner, Paulo Lobo has quickly ascended the trainer ranks in the 22 months he's been in the United Stakes and could top off an unbelievable year should his Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes winner Farda Amiga capture the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
"We knew after the Santa Anita Oaks (finished fourth) we had a good filly," said Lobo. "After that race we started thinking Kentucky Oaks and then we focused on the Alabama. Then, we all sat down and decided we'd train her up to the Breeders' Cup. Things have gone faster for me than I had expected, but this is where every trainer wants to be. We are really enjoying it."
Trainer Larry Jones, who will start Ruby's Reception in the Juvenile Fillies, echoed the most popular sentiment of this year's class of first time Breeders' Cup trainers.
"I told myself and my owners that we are going to enjoy the experience win or lose," said Jones. "As long as the filly comes out of the race in good order, this will have been an unbelievable experience. This is something we had only dreamed about before. We know our filly belongs here. We've had a lot of fun up to now with her and plan on having lots more."
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