Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 24-25
$2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade I)
Three-Year-Olds & Up
1 Mile (Turf)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Awesome Gem (Tr: Craig Dollase) – The third-place finisher in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic galloped 1m Wednesday at his Hollywood Park base as he moved closer to Saturday’s running of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Trainer Craig Dollase, pleased with post position six for his 5yo son of Awesome Again, chose the Mile on turf over this year’s Classic, in which the gelding was cross-entered.
The trainer said Awesome Gem, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, might school in Santa Anita’s paddock on Friday.
Bold Chieftain (Tr: Bill Morey Jr.) – The Northern California-based runner made it safely to Santa Anita Wednesday afternoon about 12:30 after a van ride down from Golden Gate Fields in the Bay Area.
He checked in to Barn 116 and will call that home as he prepares to run in Saturday’s Mile for trainer Bill Morey Jr. The conditioner was en route to L.A. by car a couple of hours behind his charge.
Bold Chieftain, a California-bred 5yo horse by Chief Seattle, has won 11 of 22 starts and more than $800,000, though he has never captured a graded stakes. Russell Baze, North America’s winningest rider, will handle Bold Chieftain for the 18th time in the Mile. They’ll break from post eight and are listed at 15-1 in the 11-horse field.
Daytona (Tr: Dan Hendricks) – The Irish-bred 4yo walked the shedrow of trainer Dan Hendricks’ barn on Wednesday, one day after completing his final major workout in advance of Saturday. He will go back to the track on Thursday and Friday to jog and gallop, according to Hendricks.
“He looks real good,” said Hendricks. “All we can do is wait now.”
Goldikova (Tr: Freddie Head) – Freddie Head will attempt to make history here Saturday when he sends out the 3yo filly Goldikova against colts in the Mile.
Head, who won the race twice aboard Miesque (1987 and 1988) as a jockey, will try to become the first Breeders’ Cup-winning rider to saddle a Breeders’ Cup winner. And Goldikva is the morning line favorite to pull off the feat.
The 3yo filly stepped lively Wednesday morning as she jogged around the main track. She had heated up a bit shipping to the track by van Monday, and appeared a bit flat on Tuesday morning. However, today she started looking like the filly who has knocked off three straight stakes wins, including the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp against colts last out.
“She’s never raced on a left-hand track,” Head said, “but she trains on a left-hand course at home.
“She has everything she needs to run well here, that’s the main thing. She has a lot of speed, she’s easy to ride, and she’s a real miler.”
While admitting there are some similarities between Miesque and Goldikova, Head stopped short of comparing the fillies.
“It’s hard to compare them because Miesque was something special,” he said. “Brutal to ride, but very special.”
Goldikova was pre-entered in both the Mile and the Filly & Mare Turf. Head chose the Mile as the best spot, and was thrilled when Aidan O’Brien opted to run both Duke of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator in the Classic instead of the Mile.
“That was very good news,” Head said. “A big nail out of our foot.”
The trainer said he was not concerned about the condition of the turf course.
“She’s not used to running on such hard and dry turf,” he said, “but it will be OK. She won over good ground this year, and this won’t stop her.”
Head acknowledged he’d like to make history.
“I would be very happy to be the first to win a Breeders’ Cup race as a jockey and a trainer,” he said.
When asked if he preferred to wear a jockey’s cap or a trainer’s cap, Head smiled.
“I’d prefer to be 20 again,” he said with a laugh. “Being a jockey was a lot of fun, but training is good, too. When you train good horses, it’s very rewarding.
Kip Deville (Tr: Rick Dutrow Jr.) – The defending Mile champ arrived at Santa Anita in good order on Tuesday, and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. believes his charge has an excellent chance at the encore.
“I was confident with him early in the week last year, but once that weather hit, it was impossible for anyone to feel secure about their chances,” Dutrow said. “Running over that soggy course, we had no idea that he’d like it as well as he did.”
Saturday’s forecast is for bright and sunny skies, and Kip Deville is perfect from two starts over the course, winning the Sir Beaufort in December 2006 and the Kilroe Mile the following spring.
“I’m a horse for course guy and we know he loves it here,” Dutrow said.
Kip Deville drew post two of 11 for Saturday’s defense.
“I could put together a good script for him to follow,” Dutrow said of his horse’s potential trip. “He knows how to adapt. He puts himself right out there. He knows what to do and loves being a racehorse. He and Cornelio (jockey Velasquez) have a way of finding a groove. When they turned for home last year at Monmouth, there was some daylight for Kip, and the horse went after it. The jock didn’t have to ask him to get there.”
Precious Kitten (Tr: Robert Frankel) – The classy 5yo mare Precious Kitten has run 23 times, but Saturday she’ll try a first – running against male rivals in the Mile on the fast Santa Anita turf course. Her trainer, Robert Frankel, makes no bones about it: he likes her in that spot.
“Of the seven I run in the Breeders’ Cup this year, I like her and Ventura (Filly & Mare Sprint) the best,” the Hall of Fame conditioner offered Wednesday morning trackside at Santa Anita.
Precious Kitten, a daughter of the Storm Cat sire Catienus, is one of four filly and mare runners who’ll take on males during Breeders’ Cup weekend. In the same Mile she’ll run in, the 3yo European filly Goldikova also will compete, while Fleeting Spirit and Only Answer will try males in the Turf Sprint.
Precious Kitten will break from post three in the 11-horse lineup for the Mile.
“I’m happy with all my draws for the races,” Frankel said. “If I’m doing the picking, maybe I move a few of them over a spot or two, but overall I don’t have any complaints. Precious Kitten has speed and she’ll be well placed. I look for a big race from her.”
Precious Kitten has won eight races, finished second in nine others and banked more than $1.7 million. Wednesday morning she continued her training by galloping 1 1/4m at Santa Anita. On Saturday she’ll be handled by Rafael Bejarano, who has been aboard for 15 of her previous starts.
Shakis (Tr: Kiaran McLaughlin) – One of the oldest competitors in this Breeders’ Cup at age 8, the son of Machiavellian walked the shedrow and then headed to the airport in New York for the trip to Santa Anita on Wednesday morning. He was expected in shortly after noon.
“He’s doing great and he’s a pretty good traveler,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who has posted Breeders’ Cup victories in each of the last two sessions. Invasor won the 2006 Classic and Lahudood took the Filly & Mare Turf last year at Monmouth.
Shakis has been on the turf for 33 of his 34 career starts, most of them in Europe until the 2007 season. He has won only once in six tries going a mile with three other in-the-money finishes.
“It was either eight furlongs or 12 (the Turf),” McLaughlin said. “There wasn’t anything at 10 (furlongs), so it wasn’t much of a decision to go in the Mile. We just hope he gets to run his race.”
Thorn Song (Tr: Dale Romans) – The speedy Shadwell Mile winner Thorn Song continued to conserve his energy in preparation for Saturday’s race by jogging 1m around the Santa Anita track. By design, he has not worked since his win at Keeneland on Oct. 4 and has just been galloping and jogging into the race.
“We’re just going to go,” said trainer Dale Romans of their race strategy. “If someone wants to come with us, they’re sacrificing themselves. It doesn’t matter if he’s on the lead, he doesn’t need it. He just has that high cruising pace. He has natural speed and can sustain it. I don’t think he’s ever trained any better.”
U S Ranger (Tr: Aidan O'Brien) – U S Ranger, a son of Danzig, will be asked to stretch out to 1m Saturday, a distance in which he has earned three of his five career wins in Europe.
Jockey John Murtagh will ride the 4yo for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
“We tried to sprint him and he was just beaten in the July Cup, which is a big run,” O’Brien said. “Maybe because we forced him too much, he just went down a little bit. That’s why we’re stepping him up in trip. He’s in good form.”
U S Ranger will start from the seven post in the field of 11 in the Mile.
“You’d prefer an ideal world for him to be drawn a little bit more inside to get a little more cover,” O’Brien said. “But he’s in good form and we’ll see if he can step up. It will be interesting.”
After clearing quarantine Wednesday, U S Ranger trotted on the main track with O’Brien’s seven other Breeders’ Cup horses.
War Monger (Tr: Bill Mott) – It’s been almost nine months since the son of War Chant’s last victory in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park, but the 4yo colt has been showing signs of returning to his old form recently.
“He’s run in some good races and he’s hit some tracks that weren’t ideal and maybe some pace scenarios that didn’t suit him perfectly,’’ said trainer Bill Mott, who has won five Cup races in his Hall of Fame career. “That being said, we’re going to have to have a fairly ideal pace scenario and track condition.”
Unraced at 2, War Monger was a solid second in the 1 1/8m Bernard Baruch two races back. He was unable to run down Thorn Song going shorter in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland and finished third last time out.
“Given everything, with a nice smooth trip he’s in with a chance to get a paycheck,” Mott said. “I don’t know if he’s best at a mile, but I think he can be effective at a mile.”
War Monger, who galloped on the main track Wednesday, is listed at 12-1 on the morning line behind European favorite Goldikova. Kent Desormeaux, who has been aboard for 11 of his 12 starts, will ride again Saturday.
Whatsthescript (tr: John Sadler; ex. rider: David Pineda) – Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ Whatsthescript galloped 1 1/4m under exercise rider David Pineda for trainer John Sadler on Wednesday morning at Santa Anita.
Garrett Gomez, who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2005 with Artie Schiller, has the mount on Whatsthescript and will break from the 11 hole on Saturday.
“The 11 is not great for him,” Sadler said of Whatsthescript, who had his final work for the Mile last Saturday (1:26 2/5 for 7f) at Santa Anita. “His style is to stalk so hopefully he can drop in and not lose a lot of ground and make his run.”
Gomez rode Whatsthescript for the first time in a winning effort in the Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 24. That was the 4yo’s most recent start.
“He had run two races at Del Mar and we decided after the ‘Win and You’re In’ races that we would pass on the Oak Tree Mile,” Sadler said. “This gives him more time and he runs well fresh.”