Breeders' Cup Notes
Oct 31, 2017
Arrogate, Collected, Mubtaahij, West Coast – Bob Baffert’s four runners – Arrogate, Collected, Mubtaahij and West Coast – all shipped from Santa Anita Park to Del Mar in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The Classic horses were part of a group of 16 Baffert horses moved to Del Mar. Eleven of them are scheduled to compete in Breeders’ Cup races.
Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s assistant since 1999, said the horses left Santa Anita at 2 a.m. and arrived shortly after 4 a.m. All of them walked the shedrow after making the trip. Many of them had their final timed works Sunday and Monday and were scheduled for their first trip to the Del Mar track Wednesday.
“We’re here. We’re set up. The horses are already comfortable in their stalls and have already eaten,” Barnes said. “It’s hard with the traffic. You want to get it done and out of the way.”
Barnes has returned to work, though in a limited role, while recovering from serious injuries suffered in a freak accident Sept. 17 at Santa Anita. The stable pony he was riding lost his footing,
unseated Barnes and then fell on the veteran horseman. Barnes fractured his pelvis and had internal bleeding. He stayed away from the track for about a month, but returned recently and gets around with crutches. He describes himself as “a dispatcher,” at this point.
“Mainly I just sit in the office and talk on the radio and tell Bob who is coming out,” Barnes said.
Baffert was scheduled to arrive at Del Mar later Tuesday.
Churchill – Churchill arrived Monday night from Ireland and walked the shedrow. He is scheduled to clear quarantine Thursday and make his first appearance on the track.
Gunnevera – Margoth’s Gunnevera galloped 1 ½ m with energy at Del Mar Tuesday morning, bolstering exercise rider Victor O’Farrel’s confidence in the 3yo son of Dialed In’s chances in Saturday’s Classic.
“He’s feeling good. He galloped strong,” O’Farrel said. “He was feeling so good this morning, he jumped in the air. He likes the track; he likes the weather; he likes everything. I think he will run very big Saturday.”
Owner Salomon del Valle, a Venezuelan businessman, was on hand at Del Mar to watch his colt’s morning exercise.
The resilient Gunnevera is the only 2017 Triple Crown participant in the 11-horse Classic field. The Antonio Sano-trained colt finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness Stakes.
“I’m so proud of the condition of my horse right now. He’s a different horse. He’s stronger; his coat is better; he’s gained weight. The horse is very happy,” Sano said. “All my years as a trainer, I think you can’t train a horse for just one race. You train them to run for a long time – two, three, four years.”
Gunnevera was given a two-month break after the Preakness before returning to action to win the Tangelo Stakes at Gulfstream Park Aug. 6 and going on to finish second behind West Coast in the Aug. 28 Travers Stakes at Saratoga last time out.
“My horse is in 100-percent condition – very fresh,” Sano said.
Gunnevera is scheduled to finish up his morning exercise Wednesday with an open gallop.
Gun Runner – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner continues to thrive at Del Mar in advance of his run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The 9-5 morning-line favorite for the $6 million event exited his final preparatory breeze — a 4f Monday drill in 49 2/5 — in solid order for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Assistant trainer Scott Blasi was pleased with the son of Candy Ride’s condition. According to Blasi, the winner of four Grade I races in the last year had a walk day, which is typical for Asmussen’s horses the day after a work.
“He just walked today,” Blasi said. “Everything’s good. He’s been perfect.”
Pavel – Following a full circle of the Del Mar main track, Leandro Moro, assistant trainer to Doug O'Neill, had this to say about the lightly raced 3yo colt, owned by Reddam Racing: "He's a really good warrior. He's been training well here at Del Mar just as he did this summer before going east to run in stakes races. He got a good post (10) even though a lot of people say you can't win from that far out at a mile and a quarter, but we know that's necessarily true. Just think of the Kentucky Derby."
Exercise rider Gabriel Planchard was up for the morning gallop, and Mario Gutierrez rides Saturday.
War Decree – War Decree arrived Monday night from Ireland and walked the shedrow. He is scheduled to clear quarantine Thursday and make his first appearance on the track.
War Story – The Brooklyn winner galloped 1 ½ m early this morning and continues to look like the best version of himself, according to Chad Summers, who is overseeing preparations for his friend Jorge Navarro while the trainer is out of town.
Summers, trainer of Sprint contender Mind Your Biscuits, has been learning from Navarro while also competing against him around the world, from California to Dubai.
“We both worked for Paraneck Stable a long time ago,” Summers said. “He was breaking the horses. And then we’ve seemed to travel the same circuit the last couple years, starting with Breeders’ Cup last year with Delta Bluesman (fifth in the Sprint for Navarro while Mind Your Biscuits was third).
“And then the Malibu (at Santa Anita on Opening Day, Dec. 26), because of Christmas, we had to ship out early and stay late so we were both there for a month together, Sharp Azteca and Biscuits, and we were one-two in that race. And then we were with each other for three weeks in Dubai.
“When he shipped to Saratoga he shipped into our barn and El Deal won the Vanderbilt out of our barn. He’s a good horseman who gets a bad rap for a lot of things but his horsemanship skills are on par with anyone I’ve been around.”
Navarro is in the process of moving his string from Monmouth Park to his winter base in Florida and will be back at Del Mar on Wednesday.
“Hopefully he has a big weekend,” Summers said. “Nobody will be rooting for him harder than me.”
Win the Space – The 5yo son of Pulpit walked for trainer George Papaprodromou Tuesday, a day after putting in his final timed work for Saturday's running of the Breeders' Cup Classic. The trainer said Win the Space, who will start from post three with Joe Talamo in the irons, came out of his workout in good shape.
Abel Tasman – The 3yo daughter of Quality Road co-owned by China Horse Club International and her breeder Clearsky Farms, was shipped from Santa Anita Park to Del Mar overnight with 15 other horses trained by Bob Baffert. After the two-hour trip, Abel Tasman and the others walked. She will return to the track Wednesday.
With victories in the four Grade 1 races this year, Starlet, Kentucky Oaks, Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks, Abel Tasman put herself in position to win the Eclipse Award as the 3yo filly champ. She was second in his most recent start, the Cotillion at Parx Sept. 23 and will face older fillies and mares for the first time in the Distaff.
The Distaff has been won by 3yos 10 times. The most recent 3yo winner was Untapable in 2014.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Abel Tasman. He has won the Distaff a record five times. His most recent winner was Royal Delta in 2012.
Champagne Room – Sharon Alesia, Ciaglia Racing, Exline-Border Racing, Gulliver Racing and Robin Christensen’s Champagne Room jogged early on the main track at Del Mar Tuesday morning under exercise rider Eddie Inda.
Winner of last year’s 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, Champagne Room drew post position one for Friday’s Distaff and will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez for trainer Peter Eurton.
“It is what it is,” Eurton said of the inside draw. “(With the one hole) she can get aggressive when she feels the pressure around her. I would love to switch with Paradise Woods (who drew post position seven) and be able to control things.”
Elate – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s 3yo filly Elate seems to be rounding into top form for trainer Bill Mott at the right time and enters the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, a race that appears to be a compendium of multiple year-end championship title contests, with a noticeable amount of momentum. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has been dominant in consecutive Grade 1s, including a 5 1/2-length drubbing of next-out Grade I winner It Tiz Well in the Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 19 and an overhaul of older fillies and mares in the Beldame at Belmont on Sept. 30.
While older mares Stellar Wind and Forever Unbridled square up for said division’s bragging rights, Elate must defeat four-time Grade I winner Abel Tasman for a possible sophomore filly championship. The last time they met, only a head separated the two after a battle that lasted the better part of the final three furlongs in Saratoga’s Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23. Said effort was Elate’s last loss.
On Tuesday morning, the dark bay homebred galloped over the main track at Del Mar, two days after a breezing impressively in her first feel of the surface.
“It went well. She walked through the paddock and we toured it again with her. We walked through then came out and had an easy gallop of about a mile and a quarter,” Mott said. “Her two races since (last facing Abel Tasman) have visually been better. She looked loaded (in the Beldame) and ran a great race.
“You have to bring the right horse to the dance,” Mott said of being a five-time winner of the Distaff. “With a 3-year-old filly, they have to be on the improve at the end of the year. You’re reaching out anytime you’re running a 3-year-old against hickory old seasoned horses like Dallas Stewart’s Forever Unbridled and she’s tough. She hasn’t raced much, but it seems to be working for her.”
Forever Unbridled – Charles Fipke’s homebred Forever Unbridled got her first look at the Del Mar main track Tuesday morning. Leaving Barn BB and galloping a little over a mile at 6:30 a.m. with trainer Dallas Stewart watching attentively from the six-furlong pole, she appeared comfortable and to have traveled well. Leading her on pony was assistant trainer Bentley Combs, who hopes to follow in the successful footsteps of former Stewart assistant Brad Cox when he ventures out on his own this year.
The daughter of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song and Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever enters the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in top form, with two victories from as many starts, including a defeat of iconic champion Songbird last out in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 26.
Last year, the three-time Grade I-winning earner of $2,086,880 was a valiant third behind Beholder and Songbird in the Distaff, closing from five lengths astern those champions to within 1 1/2 lengths at the wire. Finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind her that day was Stellar Wind, the morning-line favorite for this year’s Distaff.
“She shipped in in good shape,” Stewart said. “She looks great and is all dappled out. We’re very happy with her.”
After taking the Personal Ensign, Stewart mentioned Belmont’s Beldame — a race she won in 2016 — as the likely next stop. Instead, he opted to give her another significant gap going into the Breeders’ Cup.
“Just the timing, from the (June 17) Fleur de Lis (Handicap) to the Personal Ensign; she did well with that, so we stuck with it,” Stewart said. “We’re just here to win. We’re not worried about the (championship) circumstances. That’s what counts.”
Regular rider Joel Rosario, aboard six of her previous seven starts, was replaced by John Velazquez for Friday’s race. Rosario had won four graded stakes with the bay mare, including a stealthy and much-lauded piloting last out in the Personal Ensign. Velazquez has ridden her twice, both victories — the 2015 Comely Stakes at Aqueduct and 2016 Apple Blossom Handicap.
When asked, Stewart declined to comment on the switch.
Mopotism – Though listed as the longest shot on the morning line, this 3yo daughter of Uncle Mo owned by Reddam Racing inspired assistant trainer Leandro Mora to burst out with "we're going to shock the nation with her. She's been knocking on the door. She's been running with all of the best fillies in the nation.
"I liked the way she breezed the last time with (Classic entrant) Pavel. They were head and head around there and finished head and head."
She galloped 1 ½ m Tuesday with Amir Cedeno in the saddle. International riding star and multiple Breeders' Cup winner Frankie Dettori rides Saturday.
Paradise Woods – Though a multiple graded stakes winner and earner of nearly a half-million dollars, this Richard Mandella trainee is buried as fifth choice on the morning line in one of the deepest and most talented fields among Breeders' Cup Distaffs.
Nevertheless, Mandella, one of the more successful of Breeders' Cup winning trainers, remains hopeful that his 3yo daughter of Union Rags can reach deep into her talent and bring home the victory.
"She likes to be on the lead but she can also come from a bit off the pace so we'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out. She's a very talented filly," Mandella said.
She galloped once around Tuesday morning. Flavien Prat is her regular rider and will be aboard Friday.
Romantic Vision – The Spinster winner Romantic Vision took to the Del Mar track for the first time with a 1/4m jog followed by an easy 1m gallop the day after her arrival from Kentucky.
“Just gave her an easy morning,” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “It’s hard to tell your first day but she’s handled the track just fine. She didn’t get in here until about 5:30 last night so she hasn’t had the chance to completely settle in. This is really her first day here but so far all is well.”
The 5yo mare is ending her career at the peak of her ability, having won the Locust Grove at Churchill Downs in September and the Spinster at Keeneland in her last two starts.
“I have no pressure on me,” Arnold said. “Six weeks ago we weren’t a stakes winner and now we’re a ‘Win and You’re In’ and a Grade 1 winner. She hasn’t beaten a field like this but she’s not run against a field like this. Anything she gets will be nice.”
While a berth in the Distaff was always the goal for Romantic Vision, one final start after Keeneland before joining the world-class broodmare band of owner G. Watts Humphrey would have happened regardless of the Spinster result.
“She was either going to run here or in the Falls City (at Churchill Downs) so our plans never changed at all,” Arnold said.
Stellar Wind – The morning line favorite for the Distaff galloped 1 1/4m early Tuesday morning, three days out from the final start of a career that includes six Grade 1 wins.
“Going early has been her routine here for three years so I didn’t want to change it,” trainer John Sadler said. “We gave her a nice gallop, leaning toward being a strong gallop toward the end, bringing her up to the race on Friday.”
The 5yo has 10 wins overall from 15 starts and that record could be even more impressive if she hadn’t been competing during the same span that saw future Hall of Fame females such as Beholder and Songbird also based on the West Coast. Two of Stellar Wind’s five defeats came in the Distaff and with a little racing luck she might have won either or both of them.
“At Keeneland she had a rough trip and that was bore out by the long inquiry (resulting in no change, with Stopchargingmaria first by a neck over Stellar Wind in second). Last year, she just picked a very inopportune time to not break well. We went through this in depth because of the magnitude of what it meant and Victor (Espinoza) said she stood beautifully, but the moment they sprung the gates she was taking one step back.
“She’s not nervous in the gate but she’s a little distracted. She’s a horse that likes to stop and look at her surroundings. We thought that the ground she lost getting off slow is what cost her.”
That race, of course, was one for the ages, with Beholder nosing out Songbird. After breaking in the air and racing wide, Stellar Wind still managed to rally for fourth, with another multiple Grade 1 winner, Forever Unbridled, in third.
“She’s had a few races where she didn’t get out good, including the Kentucky Oaks (as the post-time favorite),” Sadler said. “She’s not the fastest gate horse in the world but now that Victor knows her so well I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”
Having cleared quarantine Monday night, all the English and French horses that arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning saw the Del Mar racetrack for the first time.
First out on to the dirt was the Gordon Elliott-trained Beckford (Juvenile Turf), who was quickly followed by Juliet Capulet (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Decorated Knight (Turf). All had a gentle stretch of their legs and did nothing more than canter.
Rajasinghe and Sands of Mali (Juvenile Turf) with Suedois (Mile) were next out on the main track. Suedois, winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland appeared to be suffering no ill effects from his flight and looked in great spirits in the hands of regular rider Fergal Davis.
Newmarket trainer Richard Spencer was at the track Tuesday morning as his Juvenile Turf hope Rajasinghe went out for a gentle canter on the main track.
“He didn’t do much this morning, but he’s in good order, and he’ll do a little more later in the week,” Spencer said. Of his draw in the outside post 14 on Friday, he said “Obviously it’s not ideal, but we have to take what we’re given, and we’ll see how the race unfolds.”
Gimcrack winner Sands of Mali was very fresh when he first came out on to the track but soon settled down having gone a circuit of the track at a steady trot.
The first Europeans out on to the turf track were the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysses (Turf) and defending Filly & Mare Turf champion Queen’s Trust. Both looked at ease on the surface as they cantered around one lap of the track before returning to the barn.
Also on the turf were Godolphin’s Wuheida (Filly & Mare Turf) and Masar (Juvenile Turf) and Home of The Brave (Mile). The daughter of Dubawi (Wuheida), with Kirsty Milczarek once again in the saddle, did the strongest canter out on the track since arriving at Del Mar and was credited with a 6f work in 1:15 2/5 over a firm turf course, while Masar and the Hugo Palmer-trained Home of The Brave just stretched their legs with a gentle canter.
With the turf track closed it was the turn of the Roger Varian-trained Nezwaah (Filly & Mare Turf) and Madeline (Juvenile Fillies Turf) to go out on to the dirt. A decision was made not to put the blinkers on Nezwaah and she stepped up a gear from her previous exercises with a much stronger breeze with a 5f time of 1:01 4/5.
George Scott who flew in to California Monday night was on hand to see his first Breeders’ Cup runner James Garfield (Juvenile Turf) out on the track and was very pleased and happy with what he witnessed.
“The drizzle will not put us off,” Scott said. “He shipped over really well and has not lost much weight and has eaten everything since he has arrived. Preparations have gone sweetly so far but I do appreciate that there are still two days to go. Frankie (Dettori) who is riding for us is in great form at the moment. I flew over with him and he was very excited and was difficult to keep quiet. He is a magic rider and I am sure he is going to make something happen so I am hoping that it is going to happen on my horse.”
Not long behind James Garfield were Now You’re Talking (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Ribchester (Mile) and both did nothing more than a gentle canter.
Marsha (Turf Sprint) was the final English horse out on to the track and with a pony alongside jogged a circuit of the track before returning back to the barn. Alyson West who traveled with the daughter of Acclamation said:
“We needed to get her out on to the track today. After spending two days in a box she was ready to come out and was getting a bit fresh”
Also on hand to watch Marsha was William Butler, Sir Mark Prescott’s assistant trainer.
The four French challengers for this year’s Breeders’ Cup were the last on to the track. Talismanic (Turf) did his own thing and went off for a steady canter of one circuit of the main track while Karar and Zenga (Mile) and Senga (Filly & Mile Turf) jogged around the outside of the track with a couple of ponies.
Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle Stables Breeders’ Cup contenders all arrived at the Quarantine Barn at Del Mar around 9:30 Monday evening on horse vans from Los Angeles International Airport after what traveling head lad Patrick Keating said was an uneventful flight from Ireland. The shipment comprised 13 Breeders’ Cup runners in total, and they are scheduled to clear quarantine in time for trackwork on Thursday morning. The trainer was at the track in person Tuesday morning to cast an eye over his charges inside the shedrow of the Quarantine Barn.
Chad Brown (Beach Patrol and Fanciful Angel) — Trainer Chad Brown’s Breeders’ Cup Turf duo of Beach Patrol and Fanciful Angel will attempt a unique triple in Grade I company. The pair has filled out the exacta in two of the biggest turf races on the calendar, the Aug. 12 Arlington Million and Sept. 30 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, in their last two starts, with Beach Patrol winning each event. They now step up to America’s top turf race, while both shipping from their New York base.
Beach Patrol is a three-time Grade I winner who relished the added ground in his first try at 12f last out. Always within striking range, the nearly black son of Lemon Drop Kid swooped to the front turning for home and manhandled his foes by five lengths under Joel Rosario.
It was the second time Rosario had been aboard the five-time winner from 16 starts and the pair appears to fit considerably well. In the Arlington Million, he gave James Covello, Head of Plains Partners and Sheep Pond Partners’ earner of more than $1.7 million a well-timed ride at Arlington, getting to the front at the top of the lane and out-lasting Fanciful Angel, who was then trained by Newmarket-based Marco Botti.
Fanciful Angel was subsequently purchased from Dubai-based Touch Gold Racing by the partnership of Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners and Madaket Stables.
“The biggest problem Beach Patrol is going to have here is the competition,” Brown said. “He’s going to face much tougher horses than he did in the Joe Hirsch. Then again, his number was very fast in the race and he’s a very consistent horse who shows up every time. He has very good positional speed early to get him the jump on contenders who are behind him. All these things line up for an opportunity to really do well.
“Joel really gets along with this horse so well,” Brown continued. ”They’re a great team. He’s made a huge difference in this horse’s development this year.”
In Fanciful Angel, Brown is still on a learning curve with the the hard-knocking former English-trained son of top sire Dark Angel. In the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, he was trying a distance beyond 1 1/4m for the first time. In fact, he had only tried a distance beyond one mile three times in his first 24 starts prior to said Belmont event.
“He’s doing well and continues to improve,” Brown said. “I love the way he’s training right now. He’s a headstrong horse, but he is manageable. It’s worth a shot here for a big purse that I think he could get a piece of.
“He gave me the impression that maybe he would like the extra distance,” Brown continued. “I know his form said he was running shorter, but he gave me the impression that he wanted to go longer. We tried it (in the Joe Hirsch) and so far it’s worked out well.”
Bullards Alley – Canadian International Stakes winner Bullards Alley was among the last horses to train Tuesday morning as he galloped once around the turf course with exercise rider Doug Morley aboard.
One day earlier he had drawn post two for the 11/2m race.
“I’m OK with it,” trainer Tim Glyshaw. “I just didn’t want then12, 13, or 14. In a mile and a half race, the post isn’t as important as in sprints.”
The 5 yo Flower Alley gelding capped an exciting week for the trainer when he handed him his first Grade 1 win with his 10 3/4-length win at odds of 43-1.
“A month ago, I never would have expected to be here with two horses,” said Glyshaw, who also will saddle Bucchero in the Turf Sprint. “Bullards Alley gave me my first graded stakes win last year and then he gave me my second stakes win in eight days. It was pretty amazing.”
Oscar Performance – Amerman Racing’s Oscar Performance, winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita, jogged on the main track before the renovation break Tuesday morning under exercise rider Arnoldo Orellana.
Trained by Brian Lynch, Oscar Performance drew post position 14 for the 12f marathon.
“He is going to have to leave there running so he doesn’t get packed wide,” Lynch said of Oscar Performance, who will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Outside posts have not been an issue for Oscar Performance. He broke his maiden going 1 1/16m at Saratoga exiting post 10 in a 10-horse field and last year he broke from post 13 going a mile at Santa Anita in the 14-horse Juvenile Turf.
Sadler’s Joy – Woodslane Farm’s Sadler’s Joy makes his first Breeders’ Cup appearance in the Turf, but for his connections it’s been there, done that. Nonetheless, it’s still a rush for owner/breeder Lauren Woolcott and trainer Tom Albertrani as each attempts to reach the Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle for the first time.
“It’s really thrilling. We have been on the cusp and it’s all about the trip, as Tom says. The horse just looks fantastic and he’s on his toes, but it’s racing luck on race day. One of the most thrilling things is to be running against this great competition in these Grade 1s, and especially the Breeders’ Cup when you are, arguably, up against the world’s best. What an honor; what a thrill,” said Woolcott, who with husband Rene’ raised the 4yo son of exceptional turf sire Kitten’s Joy out of their Dynaformer mare Dynaire at their farm in The Plains, Va.
The Woolcotts, who switched from the steeplechase world to breeding and racing Thoroughbreds in 2006, are the breeders of Tonalist, who was sold as a yearling, won the Belmont Stakes and finished fifth in the 2015 Classic.
“We breed to race. We usually keep the fillies and sell the colts. Tonalist was our first colt and he was a lesson for us,” she said.
It’s a lesson well learned as Sadler’s Joy is a multiple graded stakes winner and has bankrolled more than $1 million heading in to the Turf.
“He looks terrific. He looks fantastic and on his toes,” Albertrani said after the horse galloped twice around the course Tuesday morning under Alberto Garcia. “The Europeans seem to be the ones you’ve got to beat, but I have a lot of confidence in my horse. He’s run some big races and he’s got a great closing kick, I think as good as anybody in the race.
“It’s a short stretch run here for a closer and with the tighter turns, I think they need to make a good move and save some ground, and that’s going to be the key with my horse. We just need to get the right placing early and get a good trip and hope everything works out. We want a good clean trip so he can benefit from it.”
This is Albertrani’s first time at Del Mar, but it’s hardly his first Breeders’ Cup.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be here,” said the trainer, whose Breeders’ Cup record is 12-0-3-3. “I brought Twilight Eclipse to the Turf four years in a row (2013-16, seventh, sixth, third, eighth, respectively) and Brilliant Speed was third (2011 Turf). Luckily, I was with Godolphin when Daylami won this race (1999). Del Mar is very nice, and I’ll think it's even nicer if my horse wins.”
Said Woolcott, “Our maximum number of broodmares, which we have yet to reach, would be 10 because we feel we can handle that with our staff and our farm. For such a small operation as we are, to have two Breeders’ Cup runners is miraculous.”
Should she wish to maximize her broodmare band, Breeders’ Cup winners and champions Lady Eli, Songbird, Tepin and Stellar Wind will be offered in the November sale.
“It’s going to be fiery, to say the least,” she said of the anticipated bidding war on each.
Heart to Heart – Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart galloped on the main track at Del Mar after the renovation break with exercise rider Arnoldo Orellana for trainer Brian Lynch.
Listed at 6-1 on the morning line for the Mile, Heart to Heart will break from post position two under Julien Leparoux, who has been aboard for eight of the 6yo’s 13 victories.
“I think this course will suit him better than Keeneland,” Lynch said referring to Heart to Heart’s runner-up finish in the Shadwell Turf Mile. “The turns are a little sharper and I think the speed will carry a little more than it did at Keeneland.”
World Approval – Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval, one of seven horses in trainer Mark Casse’s Breeders’ Cup contingent and one of the three owned and bred by Mrs. Charlotte Weber, will break from post five in the Mile full field of 14 to the delight of his connections.
“It’s a perfect draw,” said the nine-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer, who recently became the ninth all-time leading trainer in earnings. “I think his running style, and with his tactical speed, he fits this course perfectly. I know a lot has been said about the one horse from Europe (Ribchester) but this is a new ordeal for him. I think being (from the U.S.) is a bit to our advantage. At least I hope so. This is a much tighter-turn track than they have been on before. Another thing is that speed here is a little different than speed in Europe.”
Casse, who arrived Monday after his horses, who had been training at Keeneland, got off the plane and were tucked into the barn in the afternoon, said that his travels to the sales and elsewhere of late necessitated getting reacquainted with World Approval.
“I hadn’t seen him in a while and I can’t believe how much bigger and stronger he looks. He used to be a little leaner and longer, like a Kenyan runner. Now he’s got some Ben Johnson in him. He looks a little more like a miler type,” he said.
Casse enters the 2017 Breeders’ Cup with a record of 35-3-5-2 and $4,883,000 bankrolled by his charges. His son and top assistant Norman has been by his side all along, and especially as the team recorded its first wins in 2015 with dual champion Tepin (Mile) and Catch a Glimpse (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and came back last year with Juvenile winner Classic Empire.
But this will be their final Breeders’ Cup as a father and son team, as Norman recently announced that he will be soon hanging out his own shingle.
“I think this does change things this time,” Mark Casse said. “Obviously, I’ve known it’s been coming for a while. It took me three times to read the (BloodHorse) article (about Norman’s career move) and get through it. It’s well noted that I’m an emotional kind of guy. I’m sure it’s going to be tough, but he’s not going very far. He’s going to be out there on his own and I’ll be his biggest fan. And I’ll try to beat him. And he’ll try to beat me, I’m sure. Who knows ultimately what’s going to happen? But I’m 100 percent behind him. I’m happy for him.”
Casse said he also is pleased to train the homebred son of dam Win Approval for Mrs. Weber, whose only previous winner in 15 tries was in the 2006 Mile with Miesque’s Approval, a half-brother to World Approval.
“It’s easy to say it’s nice to be here, but it is. I feel very proud to have three horses for Mrs. Weber,” said Casse, who also will saddle her homebreds Awesome Slew in the Dirt Mile and Holding Gold in the Turf Sprint
On Tuesday morning World Approval, along with the rest of the Casse contingent, had a light day after a long day of shipping and jogged a mile on the main track to stretch his legs and look around.
For the rest of the week, World Approval will go out each morning with Juvenile Fillies contender Gio Game at 6 am and exercise riders E.J. Bowler and Orlando Cross will be in the irons. The gray gelding will gallop on Wednesday.
FILLY AND MARE TURF
Avenge – This 5yo daughter of War Front just missed scoring a front-running victory in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf before finishing third and is back, in all likelihood, to try and pull it off this year. Of course, she'll have to do it against the two that defeated her last year – Queen's Trust and Lady Eli.
Trainer Richard Mandella makes no excuses for the mare, simply saying, “She gets out of the gate really well and we'll just see how it all works out.” Mandella doesn't even expect post position 12 to be much of a drawback. He speed from the gate probably will negate the outside post.
The fact she has a good history at Del Mar, with two victories in four outings, figures to make her dangerous.
She spent some time in the paddock Tuesday under the watchful eye of Mandella before going to the track for her morning exercise.
Regular rider Flavien Prat will be in the irons for Saturday's race.
Zipessa – Empyrean Stables’ Zipessa galloped before the renovation break under exercise rider Jose Alvarado after arriving from Kentucky the day before.
Trained by Mike Stidham, Zipessa drew post position four the race in which she finished fifth last year at Santa Anita. Joe Bravo, who was aboard for last year’s race, has the call again Saturday.
“I am very happy with that,” Stidham said of the draw.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Moon Dash – Speedway Stable’s Moon Dash, a nose away from being undefeated in two starts, galloped early Tuesday morning over the main track, a day after arriving from Kentucky.
Trained by Mike Stidham, Moon Dash is listed at 15-1 on the morning line and will break from post position 14.
“I am obviously disappointed with the post,” Stidham said. “However, I am very lucky to have a very experienced rider.”
Stidham was referring to Mike Smith, who has won a record 25 Breeders’ Cup races and accumulated more than $34 million in World Championships earnings.