Goldikova – The first three-time winner in Breeders’ Cup history cleared quarantine and went to the main track for the first time at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
The homebred daughter of Anabaa, bidding to win the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile four consecutive years, was part of a group of seven European-based horses that went out for some very light morning exercise. Trainer Freddy Head was traveling to Louisville from Europe on Tuesday and is scheduled to be at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning.
Goldikova has been very good again this year, her fifth season of competition, but she hasn’t been perfect. In five starts, she has a record of 2-3-0 and enters the Breeders’ Cup off two narrow losses in Group 1 races in France.
“All the defeats were second places, so it’s really not that bad,” said assistant trainer Regis Barbedette. “When you are looking at them, there were some really good times, so she went faster. Maybe she won’t win by three lengths, but if she wins by one it will be plenty enough.”
Barbedette said the staff in Head’s barn is well aware that Goldikova is a special horse, whose accomplishments may never be duplicated.
“It’s something that you think about every day,” he said. “What she already has achieved, she’s already made history. If she were to win four, it would definitely climb up another step.”
Byword – Juddmonte Farms’ Qatar Prix Dollar winner cleared quarantine Tuesday and went to the track for the first time at 8:45 a.m. The son of Peintre Celebre was part of a group of seven European-based horses that were sent out for some light exercise on the main track. The 5yo horse drew post 8 and will be ridden by Maxine Guyon.
Compliance Officer – Although he will most definitely start as a huge longshot in the Mile, Compliance Officer has already carved out his niche as one of the country’s best claims in 2011. A New York-bred gelding, Compliance Officer was claimed by trainer Bruce Brown and owner Thomas LaMarca for $25,000 May 14 at Belmont Park. He has since won five races, three of them stakes, and more than $250,000.
“Tom is a big numbers guy and this horse had some back numbers,” Brown said. “I always like to get turf horses in the beginning of the year because they’re fresh and you’ve got the whole season with them. It looked like a spot with him where worst case, you wouldn’t get hurt too bad if things didn’t work out.”
The 5yo son of Officer, who will break from post 12 with jockey Alex Solis, is scheduled is due from New York on a flight to Kentucky Tuesday afternoon.
Courageous Cat – The 5yo son of Storm Cat, who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2009, will try for the second time to beat Goldikova in this event. He was second in the Woodbine Mile in his final Cup prep, a race trainer Bill Mott felt he probably should have won.
“I think it was a combination of maybe the configuration of the track with the turn coming up when it did quickly,” Mott said, who has trained six Breeders’ Cup winners. “When they switch leads going into that turn they’ve got over a half-mile to go. I think the horse naturally switched leads and he probably jumped into the bridle a little bit.
“Maybe part of it is the rider, part of it is the horse himself. I guess he probably could have been waiting a little bit. A better-timed ride and a different race track might have been a different result.”
This will be the final start for the colt bred and owned by Pam and Martin Wygod and Will Farish. He has won two of three starts this season, including the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood and the Poker at Belmont Park.
“He’s a big, good feeling colt who likes to train,” said Mott, who has run the grass specialist at eight race tracks in his 14-race career. This will be his first start on the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs. “He’s a very nice horse.”
Mott said he has great respect for the three-time Mile winner Goldikova.
“Obviously, she’s not doing poorly by any means,” he said. “There’s people who’ve been willing to say, well, a couple times she got beat and maybe she’s not the same. But maybe she is. She’s obviously a great filly. If they didn’t feel she was doing well, I don’t think she’d be here.”
Court Vision – One day after pleasing his connections with a 5f workout over the turf course, the Gulch horse got the day off and walked the shedrow of trainer Dale Romans’ barn.
Get Stormy – Trainer Tom Bush sent the 5yo horse out for a routine gallop on the main track at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“He’s good. He’s been very relaxed, actually,” Bush said. “We’re pleased with him. He’s eating good and he’s coming to the race with no excuses. I’m very happy.”
Gio Ponti – $6 million earner Gio Ponti, who drew post 5 in the Mile with jockey Ramon Dominguez, was due from New York on a flight Tuesday afternoon bound for Kentucky.
“The horse has trained great, the post position is perfect and we’re ready to go,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “This is very exciting as it always is. This is the Breeders’ Cup.”
Like most racing fans, who have watched Gio Ponti compete against the world’s best horses for four straight seasons, Clement says he has a soft spot for the 6yo, who finished second behind Goldikova in the Mile last November. Gio Ponti most recently won Keeneland’s Shadwell Turf Mile for the second straight year.
“To be associated with a horse who has been so consistent against Grade 1 horses and competition year after year is very special,” said Clement. We will go out there and do our best on Saturday.”
Jeranimo – Trainer Mike Pender reported his charge jogged 1m and galloped 1m Tuesday morning “in a very spirited fashion.”
“He’s doing good here,” said the California-based conditioner who will be starting his first runner in the Breeders’ Cup when he saddles the 5yo horse for the Mile. “He likes Kentucky. He liked it here when he was a 3-year-old and we ran at Keeneland in the Lexington (Stakes).”
Jeranimo, who comes into the race off a tally in the Oak Tree Mile at Santa Anita, drew post 7 in the 13-horse field.
“Love the post,” Pender said. “Right in the middle with speed inside and outside us. Our guy has a high cruising speed and my rider (Martin Garcia) can pick a spot where he wants to put him.”
“On his best day, he (Jeranimo) can compete with anyone,” Pender stated when asked about racing against Goldikova. “When you have a fearless horse like him who loves what he’s doing, you don’t worry about the opposition, you worry about keeping him fit and happy. And right now he’s fit and happy.”
Sidney's Candy – The 4yo son of Candy Ride has never won at the 1m distance, but trainer Todd Pletcher said he believes his back class will make him a contender in the field of 13 that includes the great Goldikova.
“He worked exceptionally well over this turf course the other day,” said Pletcher, who sent the colt out for a gallop Tuesday morning on the main track. “He’s coming into the race great, very relaxed.”
Almost always on the lead after the first quarter-mile of his races, Sidney’s Candy has won on dirt, grass and synthetics. This will be only his fourth start for Pletcher, who took over training from John Sadler for WinStar Farm to compete in the east. Most of his previous starts came in Southern California.
“He’s got great speed and that’s his best asset, but I think he can be rated a bit,” Pletcher said. “We know it’s a tall task with Goldikova in there, but I’m sure he’ll give a good account of himself.”
John Velazquez, who was aboard when Sidney’s Candy won the Fourstardave at Saratoga three starts back, returns for the mount from post 10. One of seven millionaires in the 13-horse field, Sidney’s Candy is 15-1 on the morning line
Strong Suit – Qatar Bloodstock’s Rahy colt cleared quarantine and went to the turf course Tuesday morning for some light exercise.
Trained in England by Richard Hannon, the 3yo colt has won three of five starts this season. In his most recent outing, he captured the 7f Challenge Stakes by 4˝ lengths.
Turallure – The Woodbine Mile winner was en route to Churchill from his Keeneland base Tuesday morning and arrived between 11:30 a.m. and noon.
“He’s doing very, very well,” said trainer Charles Lopresti, who was also in the process of making the 70-mile drive from Lexington to Louisville.