$1 Million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
1 Mile (Turf)
Thursday October 25 2007
Achill Island – Trainer Aidan O’Brien said he likes the way the Irish-bred colt is approaching the race with one victory and three seconds in four career starts.
“He’s a progressive horse,”’ O’Brien said. “He was second at Ascot in his last run. Johnny (Murtagh) was very happy with him. He’s a Sadler’s Wells, but he’s a sharp kind of a Sadler’s Wells. I don’t think he minds the left-handed track. He’s a progressive horse, I think.”
Like the other members of O’Brien’s contingent of five Breeders’ Cup horses, Achill Island stayed in the quarantine area and did not visit the track.
Murtagh will ride the colt, who is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. They will leave from post eight in the field of 12 going 1m on the turf.
Cannonball – The Wesley Ward trainee jogged 1m Thursday as he moved one step closer to Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, one of three new championship races.
Blake Heap, Ward’s assistant, beamed as he thought of the prospect of a soft turf course for the 1m race. “He won Sunday (Belmont Park’s King Cugat Stakes) on a soft course. He ought to love this.”
Cherokee Triangle – Following in the footsteps of his former boss, D. Wayne Lukas, trainer Mike Maker sent his Cherokee Run colt to the track for 1 ¼ m gallop at 4:45 a.m., just as the track was opening for training on Thursday.
“We’re all set,” Maker said.
Domestic Fund – The Irish-based runner was walked in the stable area Thursday morning after cantering on the main track Wednesday. Trainer Dermot Weld is expected in New Jersey this afternoon to saddle the Moyglare Stud runner for Friday’s race.
Homebred Domestic Fund is only a maiden winner but he finished second to the highly regarded Curtain Call in his last outing, the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes. Moyglare is looking for its first Breeders’ Cup win from its 10th starter. Twilight Agenda, second in the 1991 Classic, has come closest to date.
Gio Ponti – Undefeated Gio Ponti, who arrived from Belmont on Wednesday afternoon, galloped 1 1/8 m around the turf course on Thursday.
“He got a good look around and seemed to like the grass,” said Nicholas Balachard, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. “He went well.”
In his two career starts, the Bourbon Stakes winner has only raced on firm turf so the strong possibility of off going for Friday’s inaugural Juvenile Turf is a consideration if not a concern.
“It will be the same for everybody,” Balachard said. “So nobody has an edge.”
Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard the son of Tale of the Cat in the Bourbon, will stick with the colt.
Nownownow – Fab Oak Stable’s Nownownow visited the paddock and then jogged 1 1/2m under exercise rider Rebecca Kamerman before the renovation break Thursday.
Julien Leparoux, who has piloted Nownownow to a win and runner-up finish in two turf stakes, has the call Friday and will break from post position seven.
Trainer Francois Parisel said the ideal scenario for Nownownow in the Juvenile Turf would be a clean break from the gate and a clear trip with a forward position.
Preachin Man – Trainer Ronny Werner arrived in town Wednesday and was at Monmouth Thursday morning to oversee his Juvenile Turf contender’s 1 m gallop, his last before Friday’s race.
Werner said that the decision to run in the Juvenile Turf as opposed to the Juvenile when his Songandaprayer colt had never raced on grass came to down to a matter of distance. The Juvenile Turf is 1m, while the Juvenile is 1 1/16m.
“He’s doing good,” Werner said. “I had wanted him to go a little faster on Monday (when he worked), but he had a good work right before that. And, not that this means anything, but his regular exercise rider said he felt he got over the turf better than dirt. Who knows, he may love it and he may love a soft course. It’s a guessing game at this point for a lot of them.”
Prussian – Trainer Bill Mott can make some history Friday if his 2yo son of Danzig can live up to his morning-line favoritism with a victory in the inaugural running of this race, and Mott seemed no less confident despite some raw, wet weather on Thursday morning and the prospect of an off turf course this weekend.
“He’s out of an Alleged mare,” Mott said after sending the colt through the paddock and out for a 1 1/4m gallop. “I think her race record was mostly in France. He’s kind of got the pedigree for it. I think he’ll be fine on it, but until he does it we won’t know.”
This is one of three new races on the Breeders’ Cup card, a race Mott’s owner had targeted almost from the beginning. Mott ignored the plethora of turf sprints at Belmont and Saratoga and sent this colt long in his first start. He’s won at 1 1/16m and 1m in his two starts.
“I don’t like turf sprints,” Mott said. “They don’t really serve any purpose. With this pedigree, it would have silly to run in one of those. I think he’ll get better the longer he goes.”
Strike the Deal – Frankie Dettori cantered the Jeremy Noseda trainee on the main track Thursday morning in preparation for his first ride aboard the son of Van Nistelrooy. Afterward, the trainer declared himself happy with the exercise but not thrilled with the threatening skies.
“I hope the track is at least ‘good’ for him,” Noseda said. “If it’s on the yielding side I’ll be a bit worried, but I hear the track drains well. He’s better on quick ground.”
Noseda won the 2004 Juvenile with Wilko, who had raced on all-weather surfaces in England, but never considered the richer Breeders’ Cup race for Strike the Deal.
“I think he wouldn’t have been up to it mentally,” he said of the colt who broke his maiden in his only start on the all-weather. “It would have taken him at least two or three races on the all-weather to acclimate so I think it would have been too much for him.”
Texas Fever – In his final preparation for Friday’s Juvenile Turf, the 2yo son of Victory Gallop galloped 1 ½m and schooled in the paddock on Thursday at Monmouth.
“Everything is perfect so far,” said trainer Mike Stidham. “We’d prefer to have drawn inside, but we have a top rider (Garrett Gomez), and hopefully he’ll have a chance to make some good decisions from there (post 11).”
Texas Fever has never run on turf, and the prospects for Friday’s race are for less than firm going.
“He’s handled it (turf) well in his works, but a race is different,” Stidham said. “He’s coming up to it the right way, but it’s hard to say what he will or won’t handle.”
The Leopard – Belmont Park’s Fall Championship Meet ended last Sunday. That morning, trainer Todd Pletcher sent out several of his Breeders’ Cup grass horses, including this Storm Cat colt who had won the Pilgrim on Sept. 29.
“Belmont’s (inner) turf course was all chewed up because it had been in use since early September,” Pletcher said. “(Jockey) Edgar Prado worked him around the `dogs,’ and The Leopard looked like he handled the soft ground pretty well.”
Prado, not quite all the way back from a broken ankle suffered in a spill at Saratoga on Sept. 1, will not ride The Leopard. Instead, the colt will be ridden by John Velazquez and will break from post three.
Your Round – The Kentucky-based 2yo, just 1-for-3 on his career, has never raced on anything but firm turf so trainer Mark Hubley Thursday called the likelihood of off-going in Friday’s inaugural Juvenile Turf “kind of an unknown.
“It (Monmouth’s course) is supposed to be real speed-favoring so maybe for some of the closers like us it will be a little edge. (But) maybe he can’t handle it. We really don’t know.”
He noted that Your Round’s maternal grandsire, Affirmed, has been a “pretty decent turf sire and broodmare sire as well.”
Hubley said earlier this week that Your Round may not race on turf exclusively. Thursday he explained that one reason he did so this year is because “he’s a little immature physically” and that the competition of turf racing is a little easier on horses.
Later, Your Round went to the track to gallop with a pony, school in the gate and then return home with the pony. “He had a strong mile and five-eighths yesterday,” Hubley said, so he didn’t want the Distorted Humor 2yo to do the same thing the day before he raced.