Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 5-6
$1 Million Breeders’ Cup
Juvenile Turf (Grade II)
1 Mile (Turf)
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Air Support – Trainer Shug McGaughey was on hand to supervise the son of Smart Strike’s morning exercise, a 1 ¼ m gallop under Jennifer Patterson at Churchill Downs.
The Hall of Fame trainer, who arrived in Louisville Wednesday in time to saddle Strong Commitment for a victory in the featured allowance race, is pleased with Air Support’s preparation for the Juvenile Turf.
“He’s a nice little horse that deserves to be where he is. I think he will have a big chance. I think he will place himself good in the race,” McGaughey said. “If he gets a clean trip, I think he’ll finish, and we’ll see if he’s good enough.”
Air Support impressed his trainer right from the start of his training, only to finish fifth in his debut over Belmont Park’s main track in July.
“I was hoping he was going to be dirt, but I was a little disappointed with his first race on the dirt,” McGaughey said. “When I took him to Saratoga to work him on the grass, I could tell that he wanted grass – not that I wouldn’t try him on the dirt again sometime along the line.”
Air Support, who scored at first asking on turf, will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh.
Banned – Glen Hill Farm owner Leonard Lavin may be 91 years old now, but he will be on hand Saturday when his 2yo colt Banned runs in the Juvenile Turf.
“My grandfather would not miss this,” said Craig Bernick, Lavin’s 32yo grandson who has taken over as the president of Glen Hill’s racing and breeding operation.
“He won’t be able to go to the paddock to watch Tom (Proctor) saddle the horse, but he will be in the Turf Club and you can be sure that we will wait for him if Banned takes us into the winner’s circle.”
Bernick bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather in more ways than one.
“I love breeding and racing horses and being at the track,” he said. “This is all I ever wanted to do. After college, I worked in the family business (Alberto-Culver, Inc.) for about six years, but I always really wanted to be doing this instead.”
Since Lavin’s wife, Bernice, passed away several years ago and none of his children or other grandchildren had any interest the business, Bernick’s desire to run the Glen Hill operation was welcomed.
“It skipped a generation but came through in me. My grandparents always took me to the races when I was a little kid and growing up, I spent my summers at Del Mar with them,” said Bernick. “I was born to do this. We own about 100 horses now and we are still very active in the breeding business. That’s our main thing.”
Bernick said that Alberto-Culver, a major manufacturer of hair and skin care products, is currently in the process of being sold and now his grandfather will be able to concentrate exclusively on their horses.
The last time that Lavin was at Churchill Downs to watch one of his horses compete in the Breeders’ Cup was in 1994. One Dreamer, also trained by Proctor, was the upset winner of the Ladies’ Classic (then known as the Distaff.)
Banned galloped 1 ½ m on Thursday morning and Proctor said he is coming up to the race in excellent shape.
Deciphering Dreams – Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. entered six horses for Breeders’ Cup races, and he will employ five different jockeys. The only rider with two calls for Dutrow is Ramon Dominguez, who will pilot Boys At Tosconova in the Juvenile and Deciphering Dreams in the Juvenile Turf.
“I’m very happy that he’s been able to ride some of our best horses in the barn,” Dutrow said of Dominguez. “He’s a total professional, a class act and is unbelievably patient. He’s really become one of my go-to guys. He is very well prepared too. I’m fully confident my owners and my horse are going to get the best ride possible when I put him in the saddle.”
When teamed up the past two years (through Wednesday) Dutrow and Dominguez have won at a 34 percent clip.
Madman Diaries – Showing an affinity for the Churchill Downs turf course, according to trainer Wesley Ward, Madman Diaries continues to work sharply toward Saturday’s Juvenile Turf. He traveled 1 ¼ m on the turf Thursday morning.
Mantoba – J. Paul Reddam’s Mantoba went to the dirt track for a jog to the paddock on Thursday, accompanied by a pony and stablemate Dangerous Midge, who was also with a pony, under the watchful eye of trainer Brian Meehan riding one of the ponies. After schooling, he galloped back, and Meehan was pleased with his preparation for the Juvenile Turf.
Mantoba is coming off two wins on courses rated “good”, the 7f EBF Maiden Stakes at Newbury, and a 1m conditions stakes at Newmarket, both of which he was able to quicken at the end after running close up to the pace leaders until the final couple of furlongs.
Meehan is not concerned about the condition of the turf course, saying he thought by European standards it would be rated “good to firm.”
“It’s loose on top, and really and truly in great condition,” he said.
Master of Hounds – Mrs. John Magnier’s Master of Hounds made his first appearance on the Churchill Downs turf course on Thursday, preceded by a two minute warm-up walk on the dirt course. He then galloped down the middle of the turf course, and galloped out, his momentum taking him around almost a second time, as he pulled up with ease and walked back with stablemate Beethoven.
“He went really well, couldn’t be better,” trainer Aidan O’Brien’s traveling head lad Pat Keating said.
Master of Hounds, by Kingmambo out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Silk And Scarlet, has a 3yo half-brother by Giant’s Causeway named Eishin Apollon, who is a stakes winner in Japan, and a yearling half-brother by Dansili. Silk And Scarlet was returned to the United States from Ireland in 2010, and bred to Smart Strike.
Master of Hounds is coming off a close third in the 1m Racing Post Trophy, and before that was a six-length winner of an EBF Maiden Stakes at Tipperary over 7f, both on courses rated “good.”
Pluck – Trainer Todd Pletcher said he will send the son of More Than Ready to the paddock for schooling on Friday. He galloped 1 ¼ m over the main track at Churchill Downs Thursday morning.
Pluck has won two of his three starts since Pletcher sent him to the grass, the lone setback by a rapidly diminishing neck in the Continental Mile at Monmouth. He won the Summer Stakes last time out at Woodbine on Sept. 18. Pluck is listed at 6-1 despite drawing post 13 for this start.
“We drew an unfavorable post, but hopefully we’ll be able to get him back off the pace a little bit and save a little ground into the first turn,” Pletcher said. “I think he’s a horse that you really have to time your run with.”
Garrett Gomez was aboard for the first time in the Canadian race and will be back for this one.
“In the Summer Stakes he put in a good run, but when he made the lead I thought he waited a little bit,” Pletcher said. “Garrett’s very good at that, just biding his time and waiting and making that one run and hopefully getting there, but not getting there too soon.”
Soldat – The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained 2yo son of War Front galloped 1 3/8 m under Pat Correa Thursday morning at Churchill Downs after jogging to the finish line.
Assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin expressed his admiration for Soldat’s professionalism while training.
“He’s a really mature 2yo. He takes in everything and is really relaxed,” he said. “He’s a neat horse for being such a young horse.”
Soldat also demonstrated uncommon maturity while overcoming obstacles in his troubled second-place finish in the Pilgrim Stakes, run over a soft Belmont Park turf course. The Churchill course is expected to be considerably firmer on Saturday.
“We know he likes the firm track – we know that from Saratoga,” said McLaughlin, referring to Soldat’s maiden-breaking victory in the With Anticipation Stakes over the extremely firm Saratoga course in September. “He should get a good trip, stalking from the outside. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. I really like the way he’s going.”
Alan Garcia has the return mount aboard Soldat.
Utley – Trainer John Gosden said it is worth taking a close look at the colt’s past performance lines when handicapping the race.
The Augustin Stable homebred enters the Breeders’ Cup off a fifth-place finish under Frankie Dettori in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Oct. 3.
“He’s a nice horse,” Gosden said. “He’s only run in soft, which I don’t really think is his ground. He’s a Smart Strike out of a Nureyev mare, so to that extent, I think he will be happier on a sounder surface.
“After he won his maiden I took him to Longchamp. He was a bit keen, drawn outside, daylight all the way. Frankie rode him and loved him, but he did a bit too much early and it cost him a place at the end. He wouldn’t have beaten the winner, but it cost him a place. I was really pleased with him and Frankie thought he was the right horse for this race. He tought he would fit it well.”
William Buick has the mount Saturday. Utley drew post six in the 13-horse field.