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
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Azul Leon (Tr: Doug O'Neill; ex. rider: Beto Gomez) – Azul Leon, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Best Pal Stakes, galloped 1 1/2m Thursday with exercise rider Beto Gomez in preparation for Saturday’s $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The colt is a homebred owned by Joseph LaCombe, who won the 1997 Juvenile with unbeaten Favorite Trick.
Trainer Doug O’Neill won the 2005 Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy.
Bushranger (Tr: David Wachman) – The Irish-bred colt Bushranger, who will be making his synthetic track debut on Saturday, had a light canter on the Pro-Ride main track Thursday morning
The son of Danetime, who has won two major stakes in his last two starts, will also be stretching out to 1 1/16m for the first time.
“I’m happy with the way he’s coming up to the race,” said trainer David Wachman.
“He’s been acting OK on the surface here,” the trainer said. “As for the distance, I believe he’ll stay. He acts like he wants to go farther.”
Bushranger drew post 12 in the 13-horse field, and strategy will be up to jockey Johnny Murtagh.
“That’s Johnny’s job to make the decisions as they come up,” Wachman said. “We’ll just have to see how it all works out.”
Elusive Bluff (Tr: Eric Guillot) – Southern Equine Stable LLC’s Elusive Bluff has been declared out of Saturday’s Juvenile with a bruised hoof.
“Just another day in paradise,” said trainer Eric Guillot. “That’s racing. It was a freakish thing. In the bulb of a back foot he bruised the shell. He was dead lame yesterday afternoon. We decided to scratch last night. He’s walking fine this morning, but he can’t put any weight on it, so he can’t jog. He’ll be 100 percent next week, but that doesn’t help us right now.”
Gallant Son (Tr: Frank Lucarelli) – Trainer Frank Lucarelli knew bringing a horse in from Emerald Downs would raise a few eyebrows, but he believes this year’s race for 2yo males looks pretty wide open.
“I’m sure he’ll be a big price, and being from Emerald Downs he might not get much respect,” said Lucarelli. “I think there will be a whole bunch of 9-2’s and a whole bunch of 15-1’s. I don’t see a big favorite in the field. Square Eddie and Munnings look good, but we think he (Gallant Son) deserves a shot.”
Gallant Son has won four straight at Emerald Downs, outside of Seattle. All five of his races have been on conventional dirt tracks, but a bullet work here over the weekend seemed to justify the decision to try the big boys of the division.
“It was a mutual decision between the owners and me,” Lucarelli said. “The horse is healthy and ready to run, so why not?” This will be Gallant Son’s first venture into graded stakes company.
Midshipman (Tr: Bob Baffert) – Darley Stable’s Midshipman was on the track at 7 a.m. Thursday and galloped 1 1/2m under exercise rider Manny Avila for trainer Bob Baffert.
A winner of two of three starts, Midshipman will attempt to give Baffert his second victory in the Juvenile. Vindication took the 2002 Juvenile at Arlington Park.
“They are totally different horses,” Baffert said. “Vindication already had shipped to Turfway Park and he was more explosive than Midshipman.
“Midshipman is very immature and inexperienced, but he is a horse that will get better later on.”
Garrett Gomez has the mount Saturday on Midshipman and will break from post position 11 in the field of 13.
Mine That Bird (Tr: Richard Mandella) – Jockey Chantal Sutherland is excited about riding in her first Breeders’ Cup championships and the 2yo son of Birdstone gives her one of two good reasons to be hopeful.
Sutherland expects the Richard Mandella-trained Mine That Bird to be a major factor in Saturday’s Juvenile and comes by that belief honestly, having ridden the colt to three of his four victories at Woodbine Race Course outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“He can do anything,” Sutherland said in regard to his talent. “He has tactical speed and can be close to the pace. He’s very jockey friendly; he’ll do whatever you ask of him.”
As for his ability to handle Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, Sutherland said, “It feels very similar to the surface at Woodbine and I’ve noticed that the Woodbine horses have been doing well over it. I worked him the other day and he went over it beautifully.”
Sutherland’s ride on Saturday will be her second championship start, having the call on Woodbine-based Van Lear Rose in Friday’s Juvenile Fillies. “I like her a lot, too,” the rider said.
Munnings/Silent Valor (Tr: Todd Pletcher) – Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s Munnings, the 7-2 morning line favorite, and Let’s Go Stable’s Silent Valor both galloped 1 1/2m Thursday morning after having had paddock schooling sessions on Wednesday.
The Juvenile will present Munnings, a son of 2004 Sprint champion Speightstown purchased at auction for $1.7 million in February, with his first test on a synthetic surface. Silent Valor has a race over the Pro-Ride course, tiring late in the Sept. 28 Norfolk Stakes and fading to fifth. Both had sharp works at Santa Anita on Sunday.
“My take on synthetic surfaces is that you never know until you run over it,” Pletcher said. “I’ve had a lot of horses work really well on it and not perform well, so until you run on it, you can’t be sure.
“I think we’ll have a clue early simply by the way they’re traveling. If Munnings isn’t in the thick of it early, that would be a negative sign. The plan is to let him run out of there and get position. Silent Valor has a race over it, which should help him.”
Pioneerof the Nile (Tr: Bill Mott) – A slow start in his first stakes engagement probably cost the $290,000 son of Empire Maker any chance in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, but Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott saw enough to bring the colt to Santa Anita for an even bigger assignment.
“He’s got some talent,” Mott said after the colt galloped 1 3/8m on the main track Thursday. “He was pretty wide in Keeneland, but he made a pretty good run in the lane.”
Pioneerof the Nile, owned by Zayat Stables, will be getting a new rider for his fourth start. Robby Albarado will be aboard the Saratoga maiden-breaker. His first two races were on turf, the third on the Polytrack at Keeneland.
“Obviously, we’d like to see a legitimate pace in the race,” said Mott, who is looking for his first victory in a 2yo race in the Breeders’ Cup. He has won the Classic once, the Distaff (now Ladies Classic) and Turf twice each.
Square Eddie (Tr: Doug O'Neill; ex. rider: Beto Gomez) – Square Eddie, the Breeders’ Futurity winner galloped 1 1/2m Thursday with exercise rider Beto Gomez for trainer Doug O’Neill.
The English import is owned by J. Paul Reddam, who won the 2004 race with Wilko, another English import.
“Paul liked him on video and wired the money,” said O’Neill of Reddam’s decision following the chestnut’s second-place finish on Polytrack in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton on Sept. 6.
Street Hero (Tr: Myung Kwon Cho) – It was supposed to be a light gallop Thursday morning for the son of Street Cry, but assistant trainer Maria Ayala said exercise rider Diego Sotelo told her the colt was “very strong” throughout the exercise, He went 1 1/2m on the main track.
That news did not come as a surprise to regular rider Alex Solis, who said later in the morning, “I love this colt because he has a lot of talent. I’m looking forward to Saturday [in the Juvenile].
“He has a lot of speed, but he doesn’t have to be on the lead. If nobody’s showing speed, he can be on the lead, but if the pace gets suicidal, I can take him back and sit off the pace. He has a high cruising speed, so that’s nice.
“Wherever he’s comfortable that’s where we’ll be.”
Terrain (Tr: Al Stall Jr.) – With owner Adele Dilschneider looking on, the Sky Mesa colt, who arrived from Kentucky on Wednesday, got acquainted with the Santa Anita track on Thursday with an easy gallop. Trainer Al Stall Jr. was en route from Kentucky on Thursday and due to arrive early afternoon.
West Side Bernie (Tr: Kelly Breen) – The Bernstein colt West Side Bernie, winner of his two lifetime starts, galloped 1m around the Santa Anita oval Thursday morning.
Trainer Kelly Breen said he was letting up a bit as raceday approaches.
“We were galloping him two miles a day,” Breen said. “But today and Friday, he’ll just gallop a mile. We want to keep him fresh for Saturday.”
West Side Bernie drew the outside post 13 in the field of 2yos, and jockey Stewart Elliott will have to call the shots as they develop.
“‘Stew’ has been in that spot before,” Breen said. “The colt has enough speed to get a good position. Now we’ll find out if he’s good enough to win.”