Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 24-25
$3 million Emirates Airline
Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade I)
Three-Year-Olds and Up
1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Better Talk Now (Tr: Graham Motion; ex. rider: Alice Clapham) – On the morning after arriving from his Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, Better Talk Now was sent to the main track for a 1m gallop Wednesday morning.
The 9yo gelding, who was ridden by assistant trainer Alice Clapham, will be making his fifth start in the $3 million Emirate Airlines Breeders’ Cup Turf Saturday. He won the Turf at Lone Star Park in 2004.
“Obviously, it’s a thrill for us, the connections, but I don’t want people to think that’s just the reason we’re doing it,” said trainer Graham Motion, whose gelding also finished fourth last year at Monmouth, second in 2006 at Churchill Downs, and seventh at Belmont Park in 2005.
“We are doing it because we think he’s got a legitimate shot, and we’ve had (a shot) every year. It’s remarkable for this horse that he’s still running at that level.”
Better Talk Now, who has run in 47 races during his career, will be making his first start at Santa Anita, where turf races at 1 1/2m are started on the downhill course that leads to the main turf course.
“It’s a bit of a worry, the firmness of (the turf), although he’s won on very firm ground; but the concern being that the horses tend not to back up as quickly on the firm ground,” Motion said.
Conduit (Tr: Sir Michael Stoute) – St. Leger winner Conduit was out for a canter on the turf course Wednesday morning, following the same routine as Tuesday.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute is expected to arrive later in the week to oversee final preparations for the 3yo colt by Dalakhani.
Ryan Moore, the jockey who guided the colt to victories at Goodwood and Epsom this year, will have the mount again as Conduit goes from post nine in the field of 11.
Dancing Forever (Tr: Shug McGaughey; ex. rider: Jennifer Patterson) – The Shug McGaughey-trained Dancing Forever jogged before galloping 1 1/4m Wednesday morning under exercise rider Jennifer Patterson in preparation for a start in the Turf.
The 5yo son of Rahy took time to develop, but he’s emerged as a strong force on turf.
“He’s was just a big colt that took some time to get it together. It wasn’t like he had any problems. He’s just big,” McGaughey said. “He showed some pretty good races. He was just a big, gangly thing, but he got things together last fall at Keeneland.”
McGaughey said Dancing Forever will likely remain in training after the Turf.
“I wouldn’t mind trying him on the Polytrack, too,” he said.
Dancing Forever will be ridden by Rene Douglas, who guided him to victories in the Gulfstream Park Turf and Manhattan Handicap.
Eagle Mountain (Tr: Mike de Kock) – Earlier this year, South African trainer Michael de Kock began making plans for his first appearance in the Breeders’ Cup. At that point, Eagle Mountain, a son of Rock of Gibraltar, wasn’t even a longshot to perform on racing’s biggest day.
Seven months later, fully recovered from a fractured pelvis and following a convincing victory, the 4yo colt is back in top form and considered a serious contender in the Turf.
“I had three others that I was planning to come here with and things didn’t turn out that way,” de Kock said. “We were lucky that we had backup with this horse. We didn’t think we were on target for the Breeders’ Cup, but his last one showed that he was. So we were able to switch plans.”
Eagle Mountain earned his way to Santa Anita with a victory by a head in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket on Oct. 3. He set a track record of 1:34 for the 1m on the turf.
After some of his horse turned in strong performances on the Dubai World Cup program on March 29, de Kock figured he was Breeders’ Cup-bound.
“Honour Devil was going to come out for the dirt mile; Asiatic Boy maybe for the Classic,” he said. “But they just didn’t do well in England. They had really tough campaigns in Dubai. We took them to England and their coats never got good, they never ate well, never worked well. You can’t flog a dead horse, you know. You don’t want to come here just to be a number.”
Meanwhile, Eagle Mountain was in rehab, recovering from the injury. His last race of a busy 2007 campaign was a second-place finish by a nose to Literato in the Champion Stakes in late October.
Eagle Mountain was a top 3yo in Europe last year and was very competitive in the highest-profile races. He was second in the Epsom Derby and third in the Irish Derby.
De Kock said that even though Eagle Mountain has only had one start this year he is well prepared for the Turf.
“He’s got a good five or six months of hard work under the belt,” de Kock said. “He’s done a lot a miles. He’s ready for it.”
Eagle Mountain cleared quarantine and went to the track on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. He will be ridden by his regular jockey, Kevin Shea.
Grand Couturier (Tr: Robert Ribaudo) – Trainer Bobby Ribaudo expects a solid outing from the new millionaire Grand Couturier, who will try to atone for a sixth-place showing in last year’s Turf, run on a yielding course in chilly temperatures at Monmouth Park.
“It seemed that at one point in the race, he was actually going to pull up,’’ Ribaudo said. “Calvin (Borel) finally got him out to a better part of the track and he really came running at the end. We left that race disappointed, but knowing that it was no reflection on him. We gave him the winter off with confidence that we still had a nice horse.’’
Alan Garcia has been aboad for back-to-back stakes victories in the Turf Classic and the Sword Dancer coming into this race, justifying his position as one of the favorites at odds of 6-1 on the morning line.
“We’ve got a good post position down inside (three) so we can save ground,’’ said Ribaudo, who galloped the 5yo on the main track Wednesday. “It just gives you one less thing to worry about. He’s been on all kinds of turf courses. He’s handled some soft and firm. He’s pretty versatile.’’
Out of Control (Tr: Robert Frankel; ex. rider: Goncalino Almeida) – The Brazilian horse Out of Control was trackside Wednesday morning for a 1 ¼m gallop around the Santa Anita main track. His trainer, Robert Frankel, partnered by his young Australian Shepard Ginger, was a most interested observer from a location in the Clocker’s Corner area near the head of the stretch.
“This horse is a little under the radar,” the Hall of Fame conditioner offered about his 5yo who is listed at 10-1 in the morning line for the Turf. “Not too many people asking about him or paying attention to him. But I think he’s eligible to run good. Some people think he might not handle the mile and a half because he’s never been that far. But he’ll handle it. He handles the mile and a quarter just fine (he was beaten in photos in two Grade 1 1 ¼ m races this year).
“And besides, they’re running that race downhill (the top of Santa Anita’s unique Hillside Turf Course is the starting point for the Turf). They come down there about three-eighths of a mile and in my mind the race plays more like a mile and three-eighths rather than a mile and a half when you take that into account.
Distance won’t be any problem with this horse. He’s just got to get the right trip. I hear they (the Europeans) brought a rabbit (Red Rock Canyon); I think he’s a maiden with some speed. They’re looking to set it up for some of their other horses. My horse has some speed and he’ll be up fairly close. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Garrett Gomez, the 2007 Eclipse Award winning rider, has the call on Out of Control and they’ll break from post 10 in the 11-horse field.
Red Rock Canyon (Tr: Aidan O'Brien) – The 4yo son Rock of Gibraltar, a maiden after 17 starts, is an insurance policy for trainer Aidan O’Brien, who smiled when asked Wednesday if the colt was a pacesetter for stablemate Soldier of Fortune.
“He’s there to make sure it’s a consistent, even gallop,” O’Brien said. “He’s a good horse in his own right. He’s one of those horses that is a natural leader. It’s very hard to get a natural leader and he’s one of them. He usually breaks quick and goes along. I think it’s good for everybody. It makes it more even.”
Like the other O’Brien horses, Red Rock Canyon cleared quarantine Wednesday and trotted on the main track.
Red Rock Canyon will be ridden by Colm O’Donoghue.
Red Rocks (Tr: Mark Hennig) – The 5yo son of Galileo got his first look at Santa Anita Wednesday morning with a once-around jog and a trip to the paddock to get familiar with his new surroundings.
“He's been doing super,” said trainer Mark Hennig, who took over the training of the 2006 Turf winner from European-based Brian Meehan in August. “We've gotten a few solid works into him the last few weeks. We were under the gun timing-wise, that's the hand we were dealt, but he has responded really well.”
Red Rocks, the only horse to have defeated Curlin this season when he took a two-length decision in the Man o' War at Belmont Park on July 12, has not had a race since. The former European star has been working at Saratoga and Belmont Park since Hennig took over.
“It was the plan all along when he was coming over to run in the Man o' War that he was supposed to stay,” Hennig said. “The fact that he won didn't change anything. He was supposed to run in the Sword Dancer and the Joe Hirsch, then here. But things went aground there right before the Sword Dancer and he missed some time.”
Soldier of Fortune (Tr: Aidan O'Brien) – The 7-2 morning line favorite cleared quarantine Wednesday and was able to trot around the Santa Anita main track at about 8:30 a.m.
Soldier of Fortune, a 4yo son of Galieo, has only made three starts this season. He won the Coronation Cup on June 6 and was second in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on June 29. After a long break over the summer, he finished third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s biggest race, on Oct. 5.
“We think he’s a very good horse,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “He gets a mile- and-a-half well. He’s a very good-moving horse. He handles fast ground and soft ground. He’s fresh and we’re happy with him.”
John Murtagh will ride Saturday.
Spring House (Tr: Julio Canani) – The veteran of 34 starts walked Wednesday morning following his final serious workout on Tuesday for owner Everest Stables and trainer Julio Canani, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile twice.
Canani registered Mile wins in 1999 with Silic and 2001 with Val Royal, as well as posting a victory in the Juvenile Fillies with Sweet Catomine in 2004.
Winchester (Tr: Dermot Weld) – The 3yo son of Theatrical, winner of the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in his most recent start, cantered on the main track at Santa Anita.
Trainer Dermot Weld, who is not yet on hand, has given the ride in the Turf to Pat Smullen, who was aboard in the colt’s maiden score this spring.
Winchester will go from the middle of the gate, post five, in the Turf.