The final shipment of European runners for this year’s Breeders’ Cup arrived late Monday night at the quarantine barn at Santa Anita. Aidan O’Brien’s party of nine runners, including St Nicholas Abbey (Turf) and Excelebration (Mile), touched down in California shortly after 8 p.m., and having cleared customs were safely bedded down by 11 p.m.
The earliest the contingent will be seen on the track is Thursday morning after they have completed the mandatory 42-hour quarantine period, but all were reported to have traveled well and O’Brien will be flying to California Tuesday night to oversee final preparations.
There was no shortage of activity on the racetrack this morning when the majority of the European challengers visited the Santa Anita track for the first time.
First out was the Dermot Weld-trained Sense of Purpose (Marathon) who did some very light exercise out on the main track.
The John Gosden-trained The Fugue (Filly & Mare Turf), the Jeremy Noseda-trained 2yos The Gold Cheongsam (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Fantastic Moon (Juvenile Turf), and David Simcock’s I’m A Dreamer (Filly & Mare Turf) all completed a circuit of the dirt track at a steady walk and a gentle trot.
Roger Charlton’s Dundonnell (Juvenile Turf), with jockey James Doyle on board, went on to the turf track for a gentle trot and a general stretching of his legs. Doyle, who will have his first Breeders’ Cup mount on Saturday, is visiting Santa Anita for the first time.
Asked for his impressions, the rider said, “This is a spectacular track, the views really are impressive, and I’m looking forward to Saturday. There is a great atmosphere and it’s events like the Breeders’ Cup and Dubai World Cup that are really exciting for a jockey to ride. Yes, I expect I will be a little nervous, but it’s more with anticipation than being anxious about the race.”
Doyle enjoyed the biggest win of his career when riding the Roger Charlton-trained Cityscape to win the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free on Dubai World Cup day and added, “This has been a great year for me, and I am very grateful to Roger Charlton for the opportunities that he has given me. He is a very good trainer, and has a lot of experience, and as a jockey he gives you a lot of confidence.
“Dundonnell has done very well this season, and has good form with a lot of the best two year olds back home. I feel he goes into the race on Saturday with a leading chance.”
Juvenile Sprint hopeful Ceiling Kitty, trained by Tom Dascombe, took a while to get used to her new surroundings and with the assistance of a pony did a circuit of the dirt track before returning to the barn.
The French contingent consisting of Moonlight Cloud (Mile), Ridasiyna (Filly & Mare Turf), Shareta (Turf), and Flotilla (Juvenile Fillies Turf) had some gentle exercise on the main track at around 8 a.m.
French trainer Mikel Delzangles, who has made his mark internationally with a Melbourne Cup victory (Dunaden in 2011) and an English 2000 Guineas (Makfi in 2010) is responsible for HH The Aga Khan’s Ridasiyna, the impressive winner of the Prix de l’Opera on Arc Sunday, and Flotilla, while Freddy Head, three times successful in the Mile with Goldikova, attempts to win the race this year with Moonlight Cloud.
Mahmood Al Zarooni was again at the track on Tuesday morning as his Artigiano (Juvenile Turf) followed a similar pattern to Monday by first going a couple of laps of the training track before stretching out a bit more on the main track.