2013 Breeders' Cup Classic: Who is Declaration of War?

October 22, 2013 12:54pm
Declaration Of War York 615 X 400
Photo: Yuji Noda


A basic unknown to the casual American race fan, other than possibly as the horse who won Animal Kindgdom's final career start, Declaration of War is coming to Santa Anita to run the final race of his own successful career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. So just who is this horse that has given his connections reason to believe he can compete against our best dirt horses in our richest race? 


Born and Bred in the U.S.

Declaration of War is a Kentucky homebred for one of his owners, Joseph Allen. Sired by the red-hot young Claiborne stallion, War Front, and out of the Rahy mare, Tempo West, Declaration of War comes from the same female line as a pair of Belmont Stakes winners in Colonial Affair and Union Rags.


Synthetics in France 

Declaration of War was originally sent to France with trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget. In only two starts as a juvenile, he proved that he is more than only a grass horse. He went undefeated, accounting for a pair or races on all-weather surfaces at Pornichet la Baule and Deauville Racecourse. The second of which, he ran off from a large field to win by eight lengths.


Coolmore Enters the Picture

Having shown promise at two, the colt was coveted by one of world’s big players, Coolmore. They purchased a majority interest in the undefeated  colt early last year, and shipped him to Ireland, and the Ballydoyle yard of Aidan O'Brien. His undefeated streak ended when he finally made it to the races for his new trainer in September and finished fourth against older horses at The Curragh. Bouncing right back, he won his next two starts, including the Group 3 Diamond Stakes in October. His first stakes score was also his third on an all-weather track. Taking the 1 5/16 miles race at Dundalk Racecourse, with the trainer’s son, Joseph O'Brien, in the saddle. 


A Star at Four

Declaration of War took things to a whole new level in his third season of racing. He began 2013 with an easy win in the Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown in April. From there he has maintained a steady diet of Group 1 races through the spring and summer. His most six recent races have all come in the highest class of turf racing, and while his record is only 2-for-6, Declaration of War has proved himself one of the best middle distance horses in all of Europe. His first huge win came at Royal Ascot, where he scored in the prestigious Queen Anne Stakes over a stellar cast that included our 2011 Kentucky Derby winner. Declaration of War lost his next three, but performed well each time against the best in Europe. His most recent start was probably his best yet as he rolled down the York stretch to impressively defeat a Juddmonte International field that included, Trading Leather, Al Kazeem and Toronado at ten and a half furlongs.



Breeders’ Cup or Bust

When the turf at Ascot came up very soft for last Saturday’s Champion Stakes, his team chose to scratch him with an eye firmly on California. So now the Breeders’ Cup Classic becomes his final race before retirement to stand at Coolmore Stud. While this will represent his first try on dirt, he has already proven versatile in both distances and surfaces in Europe, while winning 7-of-12 lifetime.

So what are his chances in the Classic? Here is what his world famous trainer has to say:

“Declaration Of War has danced every dance this season and will have one more run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said O’Brien. “He has an unbelievable constitution and is a lot like Giant’s Causeway, a big, powerful, strong traveller, so we’re hopeful that he’ll run well.”

Remember, Giant’s Causeway gave Tiznow everything he wanted in the 2000 edition of the Classic for these same connections. And like Giant’s Causeway, he is by a versatile sire, and out of a Rahy mare. Dirt should suit Declaration of War just fine. Food for thought. 


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Older Comments about 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic: Who is Declaration of War?...

Declaration of War is a very classy horse that's all business once he's out on the track. This will obviously be his first time ever racing on conventional dirt, but War Front offspring has burning up all 3 surfaces in America and abroad. Plus, last season Declaration of War won the G3 Diamond Stakes over 10-1/2f on Dundalk's synthetic track in Ireland, which I've been told probably plays as close to being like conventional dirt as any synthetic track in Europe. The distance or the class isn't an issue at all with this horse. The only question that has to be answered is how he'll handle the switch to dirt? I don't know if Declaration of War will prove good enough to win the BC Classic or not? But I do think he gives Coolmore the best chance they've had of winning the race since Giant's Causeway in 2000 where the race has been held on conventional dirt and not synthetics.
want a frame of reference for unbelievable consitituion: just look at the great gedlings
“unbelievable constitution” is a big + . His Juddmonte victory seemed to be run at a respectable pace as reflected by the final time, another +. Thanks for the insight, Brian.
Would love to see the Coolmore gang finally get their coveted classic
I think he'll be a bit short, but worth including underneath.
So far it appears that War Front colts may not like 10 furlongs on dirt (I'm thinking Soldat and War Dancer) but it will be interesting to see how Declaration of War gallops over the Santa Anita dirt. As it stands I believe Palace Malice or Ron The Greek win the Classic but I'd love for this horse or Planteur (if he runs) to make it interesting.
Same point,winning the mile ,even on the Turf would be a feather in their cap.But like i said.These guys are gamblers.They are shooting for the moon on this one.Sorry for mistaking the wrong mile.
I was referring to the Turf Mile, Tom, not the Dirt Mile.
You're right, Blabs, but the Mile is the Turf race. *send*
Florida,they also own Verrazano. Would defeat their purpose.Also they are shooting for the moon here in my opinion.If he takes to the dirt.Tabor,not only involved in International racing,but the Breeding game.His value in the shed would skyrocket beyond belief, if he won the Classic.
very interesting. thanks Brian. he does compare quite a bit to Giant's Causeway!
Hey Arcangues won the Classic at Santa Anita, I don't think Declaration of War will be 133-1 though, but it is a wide open race and he has a chance. It will be interesting to see what his odds will be.
Definitely an interesting contender, though I have to wonder why his connections chose the Classic rather than the Mile or the Turf.
His swan song will hopefully end on a high note for Team AOB!
This is a wide open Classic in 2013. DoW has as good a chance as any other horse!

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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