Worth Repeating – The California-based runner, who was one of three horses listed as 5-1 second choices for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, was withdrawn from the race Friday morning by trainer Mike Machowsky.
“After training yesterday morning he wasn’t quite right,” Machowsky said. “Last night I had my vet and the state vet take a look at him and we said we’d do a double check this morning.
“He was just a little off in his left front; not much, but it was there. This morning both vets looked at him again and it was still there. So then it becomes a no brainer. I can’t run him in a race like this unless he’s 100 percent He’ll be back for another day.”
Worth Repeating would have been Machowsky’s second Breeders’ Cup starter. Last year he ran fifth in the Turf Sprint with Caracortado.
Trainer Dale Romans had a bit of a blow Friday morning, although it was not totally unexpected. The Kentucky-based trainer, who has called California home the last three weeks, made the decision to declare Juvenile Fillies Turf entrant Sustained after fighting a bruise in her right front foot all week.
“We probably could have still run, but we decided it was better to be safe than sorry,” said Romans. “She’s a nice filly and is going to be really good next year.”
Romans reported that his five other horses, including Turf runners Dullahan and Little Mike and Dirt Mile entrant Shackleford, were all doing great and had easy gallops Friday morning. Romans still has Moonwalk entered in the Juvenile Fillies Turf as he attempts to win the race for a second time. His fifth starter is Summit County in the Juvenile Turf.
The Japanese Breeders’ Cup Turf challenger, Trailblazer, trained by Yasutoshi Ikee was forced to abandon a scheduled workout on the Santa Anita turf track Friday morning after kicking out in the barn area and sustaining a minor abrasion to his right hind leg.
This will be monitored over the next 24 hours but at present it is not expected to hinder his participation in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The other news relevant to the quarantine barn is the scratching of the Dale Romans-trained Sustained in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf that has resulted in the Aidan O’Brien-trained Infanta Branca coming into the field off the also-eligible list.
O’Brien said: “Obviously it is unfortunate for anyone to have to scratch a horse on the day of the race, but of course I am pleased that having come all this way Infanta Branca will get a run after all. She will be coming out of the widest gate of all, but I am just pleased to just have her in the race.”
As for the rest of his team it was just a case of routine track work for the Saturday Breeders’ Cup runners who all went out for their regular training routine without incident.
Norman Casse, son and assistant to trainer Mark Casse assesses the barn’s chances for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
“This year we have come into the Breeders’ Cup, probably, better than we ever have (with 10 previous starters). Every one of our five horses (Pool Play, Classic; Delegation, Dirt Mile; Dynamic Sky, Juvenile; Spring in the Air, Juvenile Fillies; Spring Venture, Juvenile Fillies Turf) has trained extremely well and there have not been any hiccups. We feel as though we are live in every race.
“The main reason we ran Pool Play on the dirt, other than the fact he likes it and trained well on it, is that most Polytrack or turf route races typically have slow early fractions and that compromises a horse with a late kick, and he’s got a late kick, obviously.
“We’ve always wanted to get him on the dirt when he’d get more pace to run at. He hasn’t had that yet. He won the Stephen Foster, even though that had a modest pace to run at.
“He ran in the Hawthorne Gold Cup and they didn’t run fast that day and he still won. We’re hoping for a faster pace in the Classic and hopefully, he can show off his kick and how good he is.”
On what a Breeders’ Cup win for Norman, who was married two months ago to one of the stable’s exercise riders, the former Melanie Giddings, would mean to the Casse stable: “That would be a nice wedding present. It would be the ultimate. This year has been incredible already and to win a Breeders’ Cup would be the icing on the cake.”
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will take Nonios and Chosen Miracle for schooling in the paddock during the second race Friday. Nonios will run in the Classic and Chosen Miracle in the Turf Sprint, both on Saturday.
Kindergarden Kid, a Turf prospect, and Reneesgotzip, headed for the Turf Sprint, will school in the paddock in the third race. They both are trained by Peter Miller and will run on Saturday.
Todd Pletcher on his nine Breeders’ Cup runners -- “Obviously we’re pretty excited about most of our horses, but the Juvenile with Shanghai Bobby is a race that looks to be really important in terms of his ability and potential. We don’t worry about that Juvenile-Derby jinx talk. We just want to get him through this race in good shape and worry about what happens later – well later.
“He’s progressed perfectly, going farther each race and stepping up in class. We’re not concerned about the Lasix issue or the two turns. We’ll just wait and see how it all plays out.
“We also are pretty excited about the two Juvenile Fillies (Kauai Katie and Dreaming of Julia).That should be a great race. We’ve had some horses out here for several weeks like Love and Pride, and we’re hoping that strategy pays off.”
Tom Albertrani on his two runners – “With Brilliant Speed (Classic) I’m just going to go by the way the horse is training. To me he’s training as well as ever. He looks exceptionally well. He looks like he’s at the top of his game right now, so it makes me more confident. We actually got a pretty good draw the six-hole right next to Game On Dude. I know there’s going to be pace there.
“If we’re in a good stalking position with a good clean trip I think we’ll hopefully be laying about five lengths off the leaders into the first turn. Hopefully he’ll improve his position as he goes. It’s Game On Dude’s home turf, so he has something of a home-field advantage. Obviously, we think we have a chance.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen knows it will be tough to duplicate last year when he won the Juvenile Fillies with My Miss Aurelia and Turf Sprint with Regally Ready, but all six of his runners are giving him every indication they are ready to run big. My Miss Aurelia, who is a perfect six for six, is among a tough field entered in today’s Ladies’ Classic.
“We’re getting excited now and ready to get the weekend started,” said Asmussen. “We’re just hoping for safe, clean trips for all our horses. They’ve all had really good weeks and done what they needed to do.”
Asmussen has just the one starter Friday, but five runners on Saturday – Tapizar (Dirt Mile), Justin Phillip (Sprint), Dust and Diamonds (Filly & Mare Sprint), Great Mills (Turf Sprint) and Unbridled’s Note (Turf Sprint).
"Everything's good," said trainer Doug O'Neill in an upbeat manner from Barn 88 at Santa Anita Friday morning in his assessment of seven entrants in six Breeders' Cup races.
"Everything is going great and we're ready to roll," said O'Neill. "I'm so pumped.
"I think both horses in the Classic have huge chances," added O'Neill in regard to Richard's Kid and Handsome Mike. "I think Know More and He's Had Enough have huge chances too (in the Juvenile Turf and Juvenile, respectively)."
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was smiling and content Friday morning with his horses safely back in their stalls after completing their exercise. Mott will run defending champion Royal Delta in the Ladies’ Classic Friday afternoon and has three runners, Flat Out, Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve, in the $5 million Classic on Saturday.
“The horses appear to be doing very well so consequently we feel pretty good. We’re pretty happy about it,” Mott said.
Mott’s four horses were shipped from New York to California early Monday morning just ahead of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in the Northeast. Royal Delta suffered a small cut in her hindquarters while being loaded into her stall on the plane at the Newburgh, N.Y., airport.
“Actually, it went off without a hitch,” Mott said. “It could have been bad with the hurricane and all, but actually went off as planned. Frankly, we wound up making the trip about 10 hours before we would have normally, but that worked out fine.
“The only setback was with the mare when she scraped herself getting on the plane. Apart from that, everything else has gone very well. And that was enough trauma for me for one experience. It led to some tense moments wondering how it was going to play out. As of right now, it’s good.”
Mott could set some Breeders’ Cup records this weekend. He swept the Ladies’ Classic and the Classic last year, equaling a mark set by John Shirreffs in 2009. He won the Classic with Hall of Famer Cigar in 1995 and added the second win with Drosselmeyer last year to tie Charlie Whittingham and Jay Robbins for most wins by a trainer in the Classic.
In the days leading up to the event, Mott was asked to reflect on his Classic wins. After insisting that he prefers to look ahead, he relented and added some perspective.
“They’re all a little different, but Cigar was very emotional,” he said. “It was exciting to win with Drosselmeyer. Obviously, when Cigar won it was the culmination of an un defeated year, 10- for-10. That was like a dream in the fact that he was able to pull it off. It was tremendous. They’re all good. That was an emotional one.”
Time has shown that Cigar’s accomplishments were very special.
“You’ve got to have the right horse and he was the right horse,” Mott said. “He just kept doing it and doing it and doing it. Every time he’d show up, show up, show up. You didn’t have to make any excuses for him, he just got it done.
“It wasn’t like the pace was too fast, too slow, he didn’t like the racetrack, he got stuck on the inside, he did this, he did that. He just kept pecking away and pecking away. It’s hard to put two or three wins together back to back, much less 10, which he did that year.
Mott said he realized at the time that Cigar was putting together a legendary type of season.
“I remember telling my assistants at the time, ‘you better get a grip on this because you’re not going to see this very often,’” he said. “By the time we got to the middle of that run it was so special and so unbelievable. Just the opportunity to be around a horse like that was a special experience for me and I think the other guys that were around him.”
Groupie Doll – With co-owner and trainer Buff Bradley looking on for the first time this week, Filly & Mare Sprint favorite Groupie Doll jogged 3/4m and then galloped 1m under exercise rider Jada Schlenk.
“She shipped good and everything has gone so well, it will make it easy to come back,” said Bradley, who was fighting a virus back home in Kentucky this week before flying to Los Angeles on Thursday.
Groupie Doll is scheduled to school with horses in the first race on Friday’s program and that will conclude the major preparations for Saturday.
“I am looking forward to it,” said Bradley, who will be saddling his first Breeders’ Cup starter. “I’m pretty confident, but I know she is going against great horses. She has to get the right trip, but she knows what to do.”
“The right trip” will begin in post position 9 in the 10-horse field with jockey Rajiv Maragh at the controls.
“I am glad we are in the nine,” Bradley said. “Rajiv can sit outside and watch what the others are doing. In a lot of her races, she will be six or seven lengths off the lead early and by the time she gets to the half-mile pole she will be only a couple of lengths back.”
Fort Larned – Janis Whitham’s Fort Larned galloped 1m under exercise rider Kate Merritt as he continued his preparation for Saturday’s Classic.
Fort Larned passed a paddock schooling session to the satisfaction of trainer Ian Wilkes, who said the 4yo colt would not have another session today.
“He was ornery yesterday, but that is just him,” Wilkes said. “If he wasn’t ornery, I’d be worried.”
Wilkes said the key to the race for Fort Larned would be jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
“There are just so many possible scenarios for this race, so it is all up to Brian,” Wilkes said. “He has to read the race and let the horse do the rest.”
Wise Dan – Morton Fink’s Wise Dan, the morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Mile, jogged a mile on the main track under exercise rider Damien Rock.
Trainer Charles Loprestri was pleased with a paddock schooling session Thursday afternoon that he termed “great.”
“He will probably walk Saturday morning,” Lopresti said. “He’s ready to go. All I have to do is keep him happy.”