Ad Valorem/Aussie Rules/Ivan Denisovich – Trainer Aidan O’Brien’s trio for the NetJets Mile departed Shannon Airport on the West Coast of Ireland at 9 a.m. Kentucky time on Tuesday with touch down at Louisville International Airport expected around 5 p.m.
Blood will be drawn by the USDA and dispatched to Ames, Iowa, for testing. With turnaround of about 24 hours, the three horses could go to the track Thursday morning. O’Brien is expected in Louisville Wednesday evening.
Ivan Denisovich will need two horses to drop out for him to make the Mile field, but with Super Frolic holding a first preference in the Classic and Mauralakana preferring the Filly & Mare Turf, the 3yo son of Danehill looks a likely runner.
Ivan Denisovich was bred and is co-owned by Irving and Marjorie Cowan, who won the 1993 Distaff with Hollywood Wildcat and the 2000 Mile with War Chant.
Ivan Denisovich will be ridden by Michael Kinane on Saturday if he gets to run. Garrett Gomez returns on Aussie Rules after their victory in the Shadwell Turf Mile this month at Keeneland, and Jamie Spencer will partner Ad Valorem. Spencer was contract rider to the Ballydoyle operation in 2004 when he won the Middle Park Stakes aboard then 2yo Ad Valorem.
Araafa – The 3yo Irish-bred colt cleared quarantine Monday night and came out Tuesday morning for a jog once around the main track.
John Davis, head traveling lad for trainer Jeremy Noseda, said Araafa shipped well and was adjusting to the new surroundings.
“He had a good jog today,” Davis said, “and he’s doing well here. He’ll continue to jog on the main track this week. We don’t expect to be on the turf until Saturday.”
The son of Mull of Kintyre became a Group I winner at the mile distance when he took the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot in June.
Trainer Noseda, who saddled Wilko to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2004, has elected to go with an American jockey for Saturday’s race, booking Eclipse Award champion John Velazquez to ride the colt for the first time.
Aragorn – The Irish-bred son of Giant’s Causeway boarded a 5 a.m. Tex Sutton charter at Ontario Airport in California for a flight to Louisville International Airport and the subsequent short ship to Churchill Downs. His trainer, Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, was to follow him to Kentucky aboard a Wednesday flight out of Los Angeles.
Aragorn, who’ll be ridden in the Mile Saturday by Corey Nakatani, has won four straight grass stakes and five of his eight U.S. starts since September 2005. He finished second in the other three stateside races.
Badge of Silver – Galloped a 1 1/2m on the main track under exercise rider Jose Cuevas Tuesday following the renovation break at Churchill Downs. He’ll be making his first start in more than nine months in the Mile, a situation that would challenge any trainer, even Hall of Famer Robert Frankel.
“He’s fit; I’ve got him there,” Frankel said trackside Tuesday. “We’ll put him on the lead and he’s got a chance from there. If they’re on the lead, they sometimes can keep on going.”
Badge of Silver last raced Jan. 1 at Santa Anita when he tried turf for the first time in the San Gabriel Handicap and made every pole a winner in scoring by 2 ½ lengths.
Frankel was asked if he pulled off the win with “Badge” off the long layoff, would he feel like he’d done something akin to the feats accomplished by the late, legendary Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham, who won top stakes with horses like Cougar II and others on the West Coast off long downtimes.
“Nah,” Frankel said with a smile. “Not Whittingham – Michael Dickinson.”
Dickinson, the Maryland-based trainer, was considered a miracle worker when he brought the gelding Da Hoss back from a near two-year layoff to win an allowance race and then – 27 days later – the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1998 at Churchill Downs.
Courtnall – Though the son of Cherokee Run needs defections to make the main body of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, trainer Craig Dollase sent the 5yo gelding to the track for the first time Tuesday morning.
The trainer arrived from his Southern California base Monday night, following by one day his trio of Breeders’ Cup prospects. His other pre-entered runners are Dancing Edie for the Filly & Mare Turf and Cash Included, the possible favorite for the Juvenile Fillies.
Courtnall jogged a mile over the Churchill Downs surface. Dollase said, “He’s just having light exercise and he looks like he’s doing well.”
Echo of Light/Librettist – With their blood tests coming back in order, Godolphin’s runners in the Mile were the first of the European runners out of the Quarantine Barn at 7:30 Tuesday morning.
“They just jogged on the main track,” said Godolphin traveling head lad Sam Avis. “They just got used to the track today. They’ll canter tomorrow and up to the race. We’ll possibly school them in the paddock later in the week.
“There was no real reason for (Librettist’s) last race (sixth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) but he came out of it fine and he’s back on track now. Frankie Dettori is riding the other one and they’ve booked the French jockey (Christophe Soumillon) for Librettist.
“Some of the boys went out on the turf course last night and said it was on the firm side. We’re due some rain today but then none after that, so the course could be on the fast side. That shouldn’t be a problem for us.”
The Godolphin horses did not return to the Quarantine Barn, but settled into Barn 42 next door on their return from exercise.
Free Thinking – The Kelso Breeders’ Cup runner-up continued his preparations for the Mile by galloping 1 ½ miles over the Polytrack at Turfway Park.
“He’s doing super,” said trainer Doug Danner. “He’s done enough to show me that he belongs. We just have to hope for a decent post and a clean trip. We’ll get to see just how good they are.”
This will be the first Breeders’ Cup starter for Danner, a mainstay on the Turfway Park, River Downs circuit and an avid golfer, who skipped the United States Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championships and a chance at the Masters in September to saddle Free Thinking in the Turfway Fall Championship.
“I really deal in cheap to mid-level claimers, so this is a dream come true,” explained Danner. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Gorella – Gorella, who was a fast-closing third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, galloped 1 1/2m at Keeneland Tuesday morning. She will ship to Churchill Downs Thursday afternoon with three other Cup starters trained by Patrick Biancone: Her Majesty, Asi Siempre and Mauralakana.
Asked what competition concerned him the most, Biancone said, “all of it. I worry about everything in the race. These are the best horses in the world.”
Young jockey Julien Leparoux, who just lost his apprentice status in late September, has ridden Gorella to four victories in her last five races, including the last three consecutively, and he’ll be aboard on Saturday, too.
Gorella also has a second preference in the Filly & Mare Turf
Lewis Michael – Frank Calabrese’s Lewis Michael jogged and galloped after the renovation break at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Carlos Alicea.
Trainer Wayne Catalano thinks the homebred son of Rahy has a chance to draw into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint off the Preference List.
“I think we are getting in,” said Catalano, who would have Rene Douglas ride.
Lewis Michael’s lone sprint effort was a second-place finish in the 7f Perryville on Oct. 13 at Keeneland.
“We had pegged the Perryville as a good spot for the horse and he almost got the job done,” Catalano said. “He had been training well and the Polytrack was right up his alley. He ran like we expected him to.”
Mauralakana – See Filly & Mare Turf
Miesque's Approval – Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Miesque’s Approval galloped at Calder in Miami, Fla., on Tuesday and was scheduled to fly to Louisville later in the afternoon along with stablemate Pomeroy, who will run in the Sprint for trainer Marty Wolfson.
Wolfson is hoping for a post position number of “eight on in” for Miesque’s Approval, winner of the Firecracker Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs in July. “He likes that track a lot,” he added. “Keeneland was real dry that day (Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 7) and he doesn’t mind a little wet (soft) turf.”
Miesque’s Approval’s regular rider, Eddie Castro, will be enjoying his first appearance in the Breeders’ Cup this year. His first mount will come one race earlier aboard Pomeroy, also for Wolfson, in the Sprint. At age 22, he could join Walter Guerra as the youngest jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race.
“I think Miesque’s Approval has a very good chance,” said Castro on the Churchill Downs backstretch Tuesday morning. “It’s a tough race. His last race was just regular. The pace was slow. He kicked in at the end, but not strong enough. I think there will be more speed in this one. He’ll finish strong for sure.”
Rob Roy – The Kentucky-bred son of Lear Fan, who cleared quarantine Monday night, was the only foreign-based runner to test the Churchill Downs turf course Tuesday morning, cantering 5f on the grass.
The 4yo, who won the Sandown Mile this year, is trained by Michael Stoute, who saddled Kalanisi to win the Turf the last time the Breeders’ Cup was run at Churchill Downs in 2000.
Stoute has given the mount to American rider Ramon Dominguez, who will be aboard Rob Roy for the first time Saturday.
Silent Name – The 4-year-old, Japanese-bred son of Sunday Silence boarded a plane for Louisville early Tuesday morning from Ontario, Calif., with an expected early afternoon arrival.
He will be housed in Barn 41.
Trainer Gary Mandella will be arriving on a flight from Southern California late Tuesday.
Sleeping Indian – The 5yo son of Indian Ridge, who has won two of his three starts this year, jogged once around the main track Tuesday morning after clearing quarantine Monday night.
John Gosden, who saddled the English-based Royal Heroine to win the first running of the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Hollywood Park in 1984, has given the mount to California-based jockey Alex Solis for Saturday’s race.
Super Frolic – See Classic