Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 24-25
$2 million Bessemer Trust
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade I)
Two-Year-Old Colts & Geldings
1 1/16 Miles
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Azul Leon (Tr: Doug O'Neill) – Azul Leon, the Hollywood Juvenile and Best Pal Stakes winner galloped 1 ½ m Wednesday under exercise rider Beto Gomez.
The name of the colt by Lion Heart out of Quick Blue means Blue Lion in Spanish and is owned and bred by Joseph LaCombe, who campaigned unbeaten 1997 Juvenile winner Favorite Trick.
Bushranger (Tr: David Wachman) – The Irish-bred colt, who will be making his synthetic track debut on Saturday, cantered on the main track Wednesday morning
The son of Danetime, who has won two GI races in his last two starts will also be stretching out to 1 1/16m for the first time. Not to worry, though, according to trainer David Wachman.
“It’s easier for him to get the trip on a turning track,” said Wachman. “I believe he’ll stay, but you won’t know until you try it. He indicates in his races and training that he wants to go farther. There’s only one way to find out, though.”
“It’s also a new surface for him,” the trainer said, “but he trotted and cantered around it this morning and seemed fine.”
Wachman said he chose the Juvenile over the Juvenile Turf for Bushranger for several reasons.
“There wasn’t much upside to run on turf,” he said. “It’s a valuable race, but not graded. He won two Group 1’s at home, and a Group 1 win on Pro-Ride would make him a very valuable horse.”
Bushranger drew Post 12 in the 13-horse field, and strategy will be up to jockey Johnny Murtagh.
“It’s Johnny’s job to play it however it goes when the gates open,” Wachman said. “He has to make the decisions as they come up.”
Elusive Bluff (Tr: Eric Guillot) – Entering Saturday’s Juvenile on Pro-Ride after both of his prior starts on turf, questions abound about this son of Elusive Quality, but there are some things about him that trainer Eric Guillot is quite certain about.
“Desire makes horses just like it makes people,” Guillot said. “Desire is one thing we know he’s got. Put something in front of him and he goes after it. He looked like he was going to run fourth in the Pilgrim, but he really surged that last two jumps and got up (won). That’s heart.”
Guillot refuses to get ahead of himself by looking ahead to a potentially successful 3yo season.
“He’s a very nice looking horse, nicely made with a good body,” Guillot said. “We need to find out what he is. Maybe it turns out that he’s just a grass horse. We should know a little more after Saturday.”
Gallant Son (Tr: Frank Lucarelli) – The Emerald Downs star continues to enjoy the surroundings and the surface after his first five races came on dirt, the last four of them victories.
“We just galloped him a mile today and he’s doing really good,” said Breeders’ Cup rookie Frank Lucarelli. “He worked good on it and he doesn’t seem to have any problems with it (Pro-Ride). Up home, the race track changes up there and he never had any problems with any surface. I don’t think that will be a problem.”
The son of Malabar Gold has progressed from 5f to 1 1/16m in his four victories, and his most convincing score came in his last start in a $90,000 ungraded stake at the distance of the Juvenile.
Emerald Downs regular Leslie Mawing will be down from Washington for the mount. Gallant Son is listed at 15-1 in the field of 13.
Midshipman (Tr: Bob Baffert) – Stonerside Stable’s Midshipman galloped
1 5/8m Wednesday morning at Santa Anita under exercise rider Manny Avila.
Listed as the 5-1 third choice on the morning line, Midshipman will break from post 11 in the Juvenile under Garrett Gomez, who rode Stevie Wonderboy to victory at Belmont Park in the 2005 Juvenile.
“I would have liked to have been a little more to the inside, but at least we didn’t draw the one where we could get stuck inside,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “The main thing is all of my horses are doing well, and that is more important than any post position.”
Midshipman enters the Juvenile off a runner-up effort in the Norfolk at Santa Anita on Sept. 28 in his first start around two turns.
“He’s an improving colt,” said Baffert of Midshipman, who had his final tuneup for the Juvenile with a 6f work Sunday in 1:12 1/5. “My horses run better the second time they go two turns.”
Mine That Bird (Tr: Richard Mandella) – Trainer Richard Mandella sent his 2yo son of Birdstone to Santa Anita’s main track to gallop 1m in his preparation for Saturday’s Juvenile.
The colt, bought by New Mexico horseman Mark Allen after four straight victories at Woodbine, has been in the Mandella barn less than two weeks.
In a telephone interview Wednesday from his Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, N.M., Allen said he is looking forward to arriving in Southern California Thursday to take in his first Breeders’ Cup experience as an owner.
A Utah native born Oct. 23, 1958, in Monticello, near the Colorado border, Allen said he has been involved with horses since his teenage years, coming into Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the early 1980s. He got out of the business for a few years early in this century while he and his father closed out their oilfield service business in Alaska, but returned to Thoroughbreds as his only business interest two years ago.
He has several broodmares in Kentucky and breeds to sell. He’s hopeful of bringing some quality mares into New Mexico to help the breed there.
“We stand a half-brother to Birdstone as a stallion at Double Eagle Ranch, and we’re hoping that he will help to improve the breed here,” Allen said.
Munnings/Silent Valor (Tr: Todd Pletcher) – Munnings, installed as the 7-2 morning-line favorite after drawing the one post, jogged on Wednesday prior to a schooling session at the gate. Silent Valor galloped 1 1/2m before his being schooled at the gate.
“Interesting draw for Munnings,” Pletcher said. “We’ll send him away from there and put him in the thick of things. Silent Valor, I’d like to see in the second tier.”
Pioneerof the Nile (Tr: Bill Mott) – The son of Empire Maker gave some encouraging signs in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland with a five-wide run to finish third, and trainer Bill Mott believes the Zayat Stables colorbearer has a future.
“He’s a good up-and-coming colt,” said Mott, who sent the $290,000 yearling purchase out for a gallop Wednesday morning. “You probably haven’t seen the best of him yet. He moves beautifully over this track. Distance shouldn’t be a problem for him.”
All three of his starts have been at 1 1/16 m, the first two on turf before he was moved to the artificial surface at Keeneland. Robby Albarado will be aboard the colt, listed at 15-1, for the first time on Saturday.
“I expect to see a good effort from him,” said Mott.
Square Eddie (Tr: Doug O'Neill; ex. rider: Beto Gomez) – Square Eddie, the Breeders Futurity winner galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday under exercise rider Beto Gomez.
“I was happy with the posts for both of my 2-year-old colts, four for Square Eddie and five for Azul Leon,” said trainer Doug O’Neill. “I didn’t want to get parked on the outside. We‘re fired up about both their chances.”
O’ Neill has history in his favor in the Juvenile. J. Paul Reddam, owner of Square Eddie, won the 2004 Juvenile with another English import, Wilko. Joseph LaCombe, owner of Azul Leon, won the 1997 Juvenile with Favorite Trick. O’Neill trained 2005 Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy for the late Merv Griffin.
Street Hero (Tr: Myung Kwon Cho) – The son of Street Cry galloped 1m Wednesday as he moved a day closer to his date in Saturday’s Juvenile.
Assistant trainer Maria Ayala concurred with owner-breeder-trainer Myung Kwan Cho’s approval of post position 8 for the 2yo colt. “I’m very happy with the post,” she said Wednesday. “He’s a speedy colt and can stay out of trouble.”
Terrain (Tr: Al Stall Jr.) – Trainer Al Stall Jr. reported that his Juvenile contender Terrain along with his Dirt Mile contender, My Pal Charlie, boarded a plane in Lexington and took off for California at 8 a.m. ET “without incident” on Wednesday morning. The horses were scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita around noon PT.
Stall was scheduled to arrive himself on Thursday mid-morning.
West Side Bernie (Tr: Kelly Breen) – The Bernstein colt, unbeaten in two lifetime starts, galloped once around the Santa Anita oval Monday morning.
Trainer Kelly Breen was philosophical about the draw for the Juvenile, which saw West Side Bernie get the outside Post 13.
“Well, 13 is my lucky number – my birthday is May 13 – so we’ll make the best of it,” said Breen. “Stew (jockey Stewart Elliott) has been in that position before, and he knows what to do.
“Our colt has shown good tactical speed,” Breen said. “He missed the break in his first start, but was able to overcome it. Last time (a win in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile), he was able sit off the pace and come on to win.
“I know he’s got enough speed to get in good position,” Breen said. “The only question will be is he good enough to win. We’ll find out.”