Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 24-25
$2.13 million Emirates Airline
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade I)
Fillies & Mares, Three-Year-Olds & Up
1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Dynaforce (Tr: Bill Mott) – Trainer Bill Mott will try for his third Breeders’ Cup grass race victory with Dynaforce in the $2.13 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
“We’ve gotten a lot done with her,” Mott said after Dynaforce’s 1 3/8m gallop Thursday over the main track. “She won the Flower Bowl for her first Grade I, so we’re happy just getting her here. Whatever we get Friday would be icing on the cake.”
Dynaforce narrowly missed another big stakes victory when she lost the Diana Handicap at Saratoga by three-quarters of a length, but she put it all together in the Flower Bowl over a yielding turf course at Belmont Park on Sept. 27.
“She’s doing really well,” Mott said. “She’s had some pretty good races on firm turf, and she’s only had four starts since coming to the states.”
Alan Garcia, who was aboard for the first time in the Flower Bowl, gets the return assignment.
Folk Opera (Tr: Saeed bin Suroor) – Folk Opera cantered 1m on the turf course at Santa Anita on Thursday morning in preparation for the Filly & Mare Turf.
“She’s ready to go,” trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. “I want to see her sit close to the pace because that’s the best for her.”
Folk Opera won the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine on Oct.4 and the Prix Jean Romanet on Aug. 24 when leading all the way. She finished eighth in the Prix Vermeille in September when she stayed behind the pace.
The Filly & Mare Turf will be Folk Opera’s ninth start of the season, but bin Suroor said that would not be a problem.
“She’s in good condition, and she’s a tough filly,” the trainer said. “She handles travel very well.”
Folk Opera drew post nine in the field of 10 fillies and mares, and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.
Forever Together (Tr: Jonathan Sheppard; ex. rider: Danielle Hodsdon) – On the morning after her arrival to Santa Anita, Forever Together was taken to the track by exercise rider Danielle Hodsdon for a light once-around gallop Thursday morning.
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who reported that the 4yo filly enjoyed a stress-free journey from Keeneland, will saddle Forever Together for a start in Friday’s Filly & Mare Turf in search of his first Breeders’ Cup win. The Hall of Fame Trainer has saddled five starters for the World Championships, finishing second with Storm Cat (1985) and With Anticipation (2002).
Sheppard has trained for George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable, Forever Together’s owner, for 42 years. His Filly & Mare Turf hopeful is one of the few horses that the prominent owner/breeder has purchased at auction.
“He’s become an admirer of EGB, which is a bloodstock company,” Sheppard explained. “They pick horses out based on the size of a horse’s heart and, most strongly of all, by a gait analysis,” Sheppard said.
Forever Together, who won her first three races on dirt before turning sour and becoming reluctant to train, has become a much happier and successful filly after being switched to turf racing. The daughter of Belong to Me, who has won three stakes in five starts on grass, had other issues.
“We also noticed that she had stopped sweating,” Sheppard said. “We put her on various kinds of supplements, one of which is a pint of Guinness in her feed. I have noticed that people who drink a lot of beer seem to perspire quite heavily.”
Julien Leparoux will be aboard Together Forever in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Halfway To Heaven (Tr: Aidan O'Brien) – The Pivotal filly Halfway To Heaven, trained by Aidan O’Brien, cantered 1m on the main track Thursday morning.
This season, Halfway To Heaven has won three times and O’Brien said he considers her a contender for the race.
“She is a very good filly,” he said. “She’s a Group 1 level all the way. So you’d imagine that she has a big chance.”
Halfway To Heaven has looked good this week in the time she has spent outside of the quarantine barn.
“She’s a hardy, honest filly and seems to be fine,” O’Brien said. “Her coat has changed a little bit, which most do at that this time of the year, but she seems to be fine.”
Mauralakana/Vacare (Tr: Christophe Clement) – After both Mauralakana and Vacare returned from their gallops at Santa Anita Thursday morning, trainer Christophe Clement reported that the pair is in excellent form.
He said that he has no qualms about running two horses for separate owners in the same $2 million event.
“Both of them are ready to go and I hope for all of the best,” he said. “The turf will be very firm and they will both be able to handle the course.”
Vacare will be reunited with Jose Valdivia Jr., who was in the irons for the Yellow Ribbon in her most recent start. Mauralakana will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard in her last four starts, including a win in the Beverly D.
Pure Clan (Tr: Bob Holthus ex. rider: Steve Schmelzel) – Pure Clan stretched her legs with a 1 1/2m gallop over the turf course on Thursday.
Pure Clan has been one of the most consistent 3yo fillies this year, accumulating a record of 2-2-2 from six starts, including victories in the American Oaks and Regret Stakes. However, trainer Bob Holthus recalls a time when the filly first started as a 2yo and couldn’t outwork some of the claiming horses in the barn.
“One day the light bulb came on,” Holthus said. “She started learning what it’s all about, and has been good ever since.”
Holthus, who arrived in California on Wednesday, said he was pleased with how the filly has been doing since she arrived on Sunday.
“She looks good and has been eating well,” Holthus said. “The turns may be a little tight for her and the worst part is the post (post 10), but we have a mile-and-a-quarter to make it up.”
Sealy Hill (Tr: Mark Casse) – The reigning Canadian Horse of the Year and 2007 Canadian Filly Triple Crown winner Sealy Hill will be making the final start of her career in the Filly & Mare Turf.
The Melnyk Racing Stables’ homebred will head off to her second life as a broodmare after the Breeders’ Cup, and has been booked to Distorted Humor.
“That is the plan,” trainer Mark Casse said. “I don’t own her, and of course the final decision is always up to Mr. Melnyk. I don’t know yet whether she will go to his farm in Kentucky or in Florida. I do know that I’ll really miss her. You don’t get many like her, but I hope she’s not a once-in-a- lifetime horse.”
Casse also stated that Sealy Hill, who has earned more than $1.3 million, is at the top of her game right now and has been training the best he has seen.
Visit (Tr: Sir Michael Stoute) – Visit, who arrived early Monday morning from England, had an easy 6f canter on the turf course this morning as trainer Michael Stoute was on hand to watch.
The trainer was pleased with the 3yo daughter of Oasis Dream, who is slated to remain in the U.S. with Bobby Frankel as her trainer following Friday’s race.
Visit, who won the 7f Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood in England this year, has never raced beyond 1m. She drew post four for the 1 1/4m Filly & Mare Turf. Ryan Moore, aboard for both her career wins, has the mount again.
Wait a While (Tr: Todd Pletcher) – Wait a While, a two-time winner of the Yellow Ribbon Stakes, is a contender to earn a second Eclipse Award at age 5 that would bookend her 3yo championship with a victory on Friday.
The Arindel Farm-owned roan mare galloped 1 1/4m on Thursday and trainer Todd Pletcher anticipates an effort typical of what he has come to expect from the daughter of Maria’s Mon, who has won 12 of 23 career races, including her last two.
“I don’t see a tremendous amount of speed in this race,” Pletcher said. “We could be stalking (Bill) Mott’s filly (Dynaforce). I’d really prefer that she have someone to follow. She’s better with a target.”