$1 Million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
1 Mile (Turf)
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Achill Island – Despite having just a maiden victory on his resume, the Sadler’s Wells colt was made the 7-2 second choice on the morning line for the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Friday. The Aidan O’Brien trainee has been very competitive in each of his four career starts and has three seconds to go with the victory at Tipperary.
In his most recent start, Achill Island was the runner-up by three-quarters of a length to City Leader in the Royal Lodge Stakes on Sept. 29 at Ascot.
“He ran well in that race,” said jockey John Murtagh, who rode the colt in the Royal Lodge and will be up again in the Juvenile Turf. “He stayed the trip well and stayed on well at the end. And Scintillo (the third-place finisher) has won a Group 1 since. Again he’s drawn a little bit wide.
“Aidan likes him and his 2-year-olds have definitely been improving all through the year. He said they were off-color in mid-season, but if you look at the results at home and in Ireland, they’re really coming to hand now. He’s winning a lot of 2-year-old races, so I’m looking forward to him.”
Murtagh described Achill Island as a contender in the Juvenile Turf.
“He’s a solid horse,” Murtagh said. “He’s solid and if he can run the same as last time or maybe have a little bit of improvement, he should be right there or thereabouts.”
Achill Island and the four other Breeders’ Cup horses trained by O’Brien arrived at Monmouth Park on Tuesday evening. If their USDA blood tests come back negative, they will be eligible to leave quarantine and visit the track Thursday morning.
Achill Island is out of the mare Prawn Cocktail, who is a half-sister to Royal Academy, winner of the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Mile, as well as Pancho Villa and Terlingua, the dam of Storm Cat.
Cannonball – The son of Catienus, who comes into the race from a Sunday victory in the King Cugat Stakes at Belmont Park, arrived at Monmouth Park Wednesday morning from Belmont and walked the shedrow for trainer Wesley Ward.
The 2yo gelding is expected to jog on Thursday and run in Friday’s Juvenile Turf at a mile.
Elvis Trujillo has the call and the Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey homebred will start from post two at morning line odds of 50-1.
Cherokee Triangle – The son of Cherokee Run, who arrived from Kentucky on Tuesday, got acquainted with Monmouth Park with a 1 1/4m gallop over the main track on Wednesday.
When asked how he thought Cherokee Triangle would handle a soft turf course, trainer Mike Maker said, “We’ll find out at the same time as everyone else.
“He’s doing good. We’re all set.”
Domestic Fund – Trainer Dermot Weld, who has won major races all over the world, is expected to arrive in New Jersey Thursday to saddle his Moyglare Stud runner for Friday’s race. In the meantime, Domestic Fund was on the main track at first light Wednesday morning. Liam Carthy rode the son of Sadler’s Wells in a canter on the main track.
Weld, a veterinarian, has run 11 horses in Breeders’ Cup races beginning in 1985. With his Belmont Stakes winner, Go and Go, unable to hit the board in the Juvenile in 1989 and the Classic in 1990, Weld’s best finish has been a third in the 1992 Mile with Brief Truce.
Irish rider Pat Smullen will partner Domestic Fund on Friday.
Gio Ponti – With no way of knowing how the lightly raced Gio Ponti might handle softer ground in Friday’s inaugural Juvenile Turf, trainer Christophe Clement kept a watchful eye on the sky after the colt galloped 1 ½ m at Belmont and vanned to Monmouth.
“I don’t know if he’ll like it or not. Whatever happens will happen,” Clement said. “There’s nothing I can do about it anyway.”
Nownownow – Fab Oak Stable’s Nownownow visited the paddock and jogged a mile under exercise rider Rebecca Kamerman after the renovation break at Monmouth Park.
The homebred son of Whywhywhy arrived at Monmouth Park from his home base at Keeneland in Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon.
The Francois Parisel trainee will be ridden by Julien Leparoux in the Juvenile Turf and break from post seven.
Preachin Man – The Ronny Werner-trained juvenile, making his turf debut in Friday’s race, walked the shedrow on Wednesday. Werner was expected later in the day.
Prussian – The wet weather forecast for the rest of the week might be the X-factor for trainer Bill Mott’s unbeaten son of the late Danzig, who went through the paddock and galloped on the main track Wednesday.
“We’ve been on relatively firm ground so far, so it would be something new,” Mott said. “He seems to be pretty versatile. If you get real soft ground, you don’t know until you try it. He’s been doing really well. He’s a smart little horse. I know he’s the shortest price (3-1 morning line) that we’re running, and we’re optimistic.”
Prussian broke his maiden by nearly seven lengths at Saratoga in his debut on Aug. 17 on very firm turf, then won the Summer Stakes at Woodbine on grass with a bit more give that was also listed as firm. Kent Desormeaux has been aboard both times and will ride in the first edition of the Juvenile Turf.
“The owner (Dr. Gary Knapp of Monticule Farm) told me he wanted to break his maiden at Saratoga and run in the new Breeders’ Cup race,” Mott said. “Oddly enough, that’s exactly where we’re at.”
Strike the Deal – Jeremy Noseda, due into town Wednesday, hopes to collect his second Breeders’ Cup race when his son of Van Nistelrooy undertakes Friday’s race as the 9-2 third choice. Wilko was successful in the 2004 Juvenile for him.
Exercise rider Joe Scally was in the irons Wednesday morning as Strike the Deal cantered on the main track at 7:30.
Frankie Dettori, who partnered Wilko, will break from post position five in his first ride aboard Strike the Deal.
Texas Fever – He may be a 30-1 morning line outsider trying turf for the first time, but trainer Mike Stidham is confident that his 2yo son of Victory Gallop will put forth a good showing in Friday’s Juvenile Turf.
“Of the twenty 2-year-olds we had at Arlington this summer, he was always at the top of the group,” Stidham said. “He’s done everything right from the beginning, and actually came along a lot quicker than we expected.”
Texas Fever crossed the line fourth (placed third) in a 4 ½ f race over the Arlington Polytrack on June 2. The connections were not disappointed in the result, but were concerned about how the horse might come back.
“We’re just glad he didn’t get hurt,” Stidham said. “He’s a big, long striding colt and when a horse crossed in front of him in the stretch, he clipped heels so badly that Chris (jockey Emigh) almost came off. He got some experience that day, that’s for sure.”
Stidham “sat and waited” for the first one-turn mile race that came up for 2-year-olds, and Texas Fever again ran fourth in that Aug. 4 event.
“He wasn’t tight enough and just came up empty,” he explained. “We ran him back in a sprint three weeks later, and he went on and drew off. He really showed himself that day.”
He returned in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway on Sept. 29, and prevailed by a game neck despite being hung wide on both turns.
“That race told us a lot,” Stidham said. “He proved he could handle two turns, and did a great job holding off that (Todd) Pletcher horse (Chitoz). He was very game.”
The Leopard – Trainer Todd Pletcher has a pretty experienced group for the Breeders’ Cup.
The exception would be this Storm Cat colt, who won Belmont Park’s Pilgrim at a mile and a sixteenth on Sept. 29.
“He handled soft ground last week in his work, which is what we wanted,” Pletcher said. “I’m sure the turf will be soft at Monmouth as well, but it won’t be as chewed up as Belmont because they haven’t been racing on it.”
The Leopard jogged on Wednesday morning. He drew post three in a field of 12 for Friday, and will be ridden by John Velazquez.
Your Round – Regular Monmouth rider Eddie Castro rode his Juvenile Turf mount for the first time Wednesday, galloping him 1 ½ m. He’ll do the same Thursday, plus school in the gate, trainer Mark Hubley said.
Though many trainers hate the rail, Hubley was not bothered by drawing it for the inaugural Juvenile Turf. “If I would have had the choice, I’d have picked an inside post,” he said. “I like to get him covered up. He’ll settle better.”
Your Round has made all three of his career starts on grass, but Hubley said he didn’t think the son of Distorted Humor would be exclusively a turf horse. “That’s just the way things shook out this year.”
There’s plenty of dirt in his pedigree: His paternal grandsire is Forty Niner, and his dam, Another Round, is a daughter of Affirmed.