Animal Kingdom – Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom galloped 1m under exercise rider David Nava Wednesday morning at Santa Anita in preparation for a return from an eight-month layoff in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Assistant Alice Clapham supervised the morning activity while trainer Graham Motion was en route from his Fair Hill Training Center base in Maryland to Santa Anita. The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, who has recovered from a pelvis fracture detected following an allowance turf victory at Gulfstream on Feb. 18, is sending the signal that he’s ready to get back in action.
“When you’re around him at Fair Hill, he’s very quiet, very relaxed. It’s like, ‘OK, this is what we do.’ Here, he’s like, ‘OK, I’m on a racetrack. I’m not at Fair Hill.’ Here, he knows he needs to run,” Clapham said. “He’s more alert with that look in his eye. The way he comes out, he’s more pumped up.”
Excelebration – see European report
Jeranimo – The 6yo horse arrived at Santa Anita at 10 a.m. Wednesday after galloping 1 1/2m on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park under exercise rider Jesus Medellin.
"He settled in perfectly," said trainer Mike Pender. "He walked off the van and went straight to the paddock and schooled. He will jog and gallop on the turf course Thursday morning and school in the first race."
Pender has not raced Jeranimo since the Del Mar Mile on Aug. 26 by design. "As he gets older, I think he runs better fresh," said Pender. "He's 6 with 29 starts and continues to thrive.
"He's the most intelligent horse on the racetrack," said Pender of the Florida-bred son of Congaree. "Words wouldn't do him justice. Spend a day with him and see how he stops in the walking ring and takes everything in. You can take him to new surroundings and in a day he's got the place figured out. He's the leader in the barn. When he whinnies, the rest of them follow."
Pender expects Jeranimo to come from off the pace in a loaded field. "Last year in the Breeders' Cup, the jockey sat close and took away his brilliant turn of foot," said Pender of Jeranimo, who faded to seventh. "It's best to take a long hold, crank him up and like a slingshot, let him go.
"Jeranimo just needs to feel 100 percent, and on any given day can run well with the best in the world," continued Pender. "If he runs back to his Oak Tree Mile last year, when he won in 1:32 and change and earned a 108 Beyer speed figure, things should turn out pretty well."
Moonlight Cloud – see European report
Mr. Commons – The 4yo colt jogged about 1m on the main track at Santa Anita Wednesday under exercise rider Jacqueline Gomez after being shipped from Betfair Hollywood Park Tuesday by trainer John Shirreffs.
Gomez, who married exercise rider Humberto Gomez from the Doug O'Neill stable six months AGO, raved about the colt she has exercised regularly for more than one year.
"He's my favorite horse," said Gomez. "The way he moves, he just floats across the ground. You don't feel his feet touch the ground. I've been getting on him for more than a year and we've formed a good bond. He just has so much class."
Obviously – The 4yo gelding who has won three turf races at a mile in a row – including a course record at Del Mar Aug. 26 – has settled in nicely at Barn 28 at Santa Anita for trainer Mike Mitchell. He shipped over from Hollywood Park Tuesday morning and Wednesday he was out early for his usual gallop.
The veteran Mitchell, who underwent a brain surgery this year to return to his conditioners role, put his charge through his paces before.
Suggestive Boy – Ron McAnally watched Suggestive Boy gallop 1 ½m under regular exercise rider Juan Vasquez on Wednesday morning and when he runs in the Mile, he will be the Hall of Fame trainer’s 31st Breeders’ Cup starter dating back to the inaugural running in 1984.
Moreover, Suggestive Boy is an Argentine-bred and no other North American trainer, arguably, has enjoyed more success with horses brought from that country than McAnally. Bayakoa was the back-to-back winner of the Distaff (now Ladies’ Classic) in 1989-90 and Paseana earned the blanket of flowers in the 1992 edition of the same race. The pair of champion Argentine-bred mares account for three of McAnally’s four Breeders’ Cup winners.
“I sure have had a lot of good ones from Argentina,” said McAnally, now 80 years old. “They can all really run.”
Classic contender Fort Larned, whom owner Janis R. Whitam bred in Kentucky, is a grandson of Bayakoa and she was campaigned by Whitam with her late husband Frank. Fort Larned is being bedded down in the barn of McAnally, who also trained his dam.
“It will be very nice to have Bayakoa’s grandson in my barn,” said McAnally. “It’s nice to keep the family tradition going.”
McAnally is among those who are considering this edition of the Mile the toughest of all 15 Breeders’ Cup races, but he knows his horse will be ready when the gate opens.
“He’s as good as he’s ever been,” he said. “He’s ready.”
Willcox Inn – Willcox Inn galloped on the main track Wednesday morning and will school in the Santa Anita paddock this afternoon and possibly again on Thursday according to trainer Mike Stidham, who is expected to arrive in Southern California this evening.
“Everything seems good,” Stidham said of the 4yo son of Harlan’s Holiday. “He shipped well. He’s been eating up and he’s training well as of now, which is all you can ask.”
Wise Dan – Morton Fink’s homebred Wise Dan tack-walked in the shedrow at trainer Charles Lopresti’s barn at Keeneland Wednesday morning before getting on a van to Louisville for a flight to California.
“He left the barn at 8:15,” said Lopresti, who was spending his first morning at Santa Anita. “He should be here around noon.”
The Tex Sutton charter left Louisville International Airport at 11:16 a.m. (ET) and arrived at Ontario at noon local time.