Having cleared quarantine Wednesday evening, Aidan O’Brien’s
powerful Breeders’ Cup team took to the Santa Anita track for the first time to
stretch their legs Thursday morning.
Leading the group was St Nicholas Abbey
, who will be bidding
to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf for the second time in succession. His regular
rider Joseph O’Brien was in the saddle, and having loosened up with a gentle
walk and a trot, he put in a nice steady canter around the main track.
Excelebration (Mile) and Treasure Beach (Turf) were the next
to follow, and just like St Nicholas Abbey they went for a steady canter on the
The remainder of the Ballydoyle team of Starspangledbanner
(Turf Sprint), Fame And Glory (Marathon), Up, (Filly & Mare Turf), George
Vancouver (Juvenile Turf), and Lines of Battle (Juvenile Turf) all followed a
similar pattern, as did Infanta Branca, with Ryan Moore on board, who is on the
also-eligible list for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
As he rode back on his pony to the quarantine barn, O’Brien
confirmed all his string to be in good shape, and that their first visit to the
track had gone well. To the observation that one or two had appeared to have
got a little warm, he said, “There was nothing out of the ordinary there, I‘d be more concerned if they hadn’t.”
Back at the barn, Aidan O’Brien again spoke with journalists
present, reiterating many of the points he made Wednesday regarding his leading
hopes Excelebration and St Nicholas Abbey. He also explained his decision to
run Starspangledbanner at Dundalk on Friday (Oct. 26), where he finished fourth
in a Listed race over five furlongs.
“We wanted to get him (Starspangledbanner) back into the
sprinting habit and felt a race would be better for him than a series of
workouts. Five furlongs is on the short side for him now, and from a bad draw I
thought he ran well. I am not sure his draw here (14) is ideal, but a strongly
run race over six and a half furlongs on this ground should suit him.”
The first of the Europeans to appear on the track at around
6.40 a.m. Thursday was the Ralph Beckett-trained Waterway Run (Juvenile Fillies
Turf) under race rider Frankie Dettori, who had a nice stretch on the dirt
before returning home.
Sense of Purpose (Marathon) was also out on the dirt this
morning, and her preparation was closely watched by her trainer Dermot Weld.
Pat Smullen said after his exercise stint aboard Sense of
Purpose, “I think she’s in great shape, but it’s all about how she takes to the
surface. It’s an unknown and it’s different, and there’s nothing you can really
do back at home to prepare them for it.”
The turf track also saw some action with the Jeremy Noseda-trained
pair of The Gold Cheongsam (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Fantastic Moon (Juvenile
Turf) going for nice steady canters.
Noseda, speaking about his two 2yos, said, “I am very happy
with both of them, they are picking up and looking better and better each day
The Noseda duo was closely followed by the John
Gosden-trained The Fugue, with William Buick on board, and in similar fashion
to those in front of her she completed a circuit of the turf at a steady
Richard Hannon’s Sky Lantern (Juvenile Fillies Turf), in the
hands of British champion jockey elect Richard Hughes, also put in some gentle
work on the turf. She walked a circuit before cantering one lap of the track.
Richard Hannon Jr, who is representing his father said, “All
went well this morning. Sky Lantern took to the grass well and came round the
turn nicely. She’s very well, and right now it’s so far, so good.”
Trainer Roger Charlton who arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday
night saw his charge Dundonnell (Juvenile Turf) walk a circuit of the track
with his pony before doing a lap on his own in the hands of James Doyle at a
nice steady pace.
Doyle, Dundonnell’s jockey said, “He seems very well and has
adapted to the track. He seems to like his pony and this ground should suit
him. It’s good to be here, and to be on a horse with a live chance in a race
like this is massive.”
Speaking later, Charlton said, “When you come to these big
international meetings, you see so many trainers doing so many different
things, walking, jogging, working their horses, giving them easy lead-ups to
the races, there are a lot of different approaches. He’s fit and well, and I
think Dundonnell will be fine on the firm turf, but if it turns out to be too
firm, it’s too firm – we’ll find out on the day.”
Roger Varian’s Nahrain (Filly & Mare Turf) had a very
gentle canter around half a circuit of the track Thursday.
Varian said of his filly, “We just took her to the track
today for a jog and a canter. She’s fit and well and in good form, and that’s
the main thing. Time will tell if she’s good enough. We are putting a pair of
blinkers on her at the suggestion of her jockey in the Flower Bowl (John
Velazquez), who said that even though she’d won, she’d run a little lazily that
day. Maybe the blinkers will give her a little extra edge. This is a tougher
race, and you can’t give anything away.” Frankie Dettori has the mount on
Another Filly & Mare Turf contender, I’m A Dreamer,
stepped up on her work from Wednesday and having cantered a circuit of the
track picked up the pace and did a very nice breeze in the hands of Laura Pike
Once again the French came out to the track together but
soon split up into different parties. Moonlight Cloud (Mile) had a nice stretch
of her legs before returning to the barn.
Freddy Head said of Moonlight Cloud, “I am very happy with
her. She has had a really good preparation for this race over the past month
and a half. She’s been training around a bend back home in Lamorlaye (France),
and I have no concerns about the ground. She’s had the perfect build up, and
while I have a big respect for Wise Dan and Excelebration, it’s possible she
can turn that (Deauville) form around.”
Mikel Delzangles, who flew in from Australia Wednesday, saw
his pair of Flotilla (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Ridasiyna (Filly & Mare
Turf) put in a couple of nice steady canters on the main track. As soon as his
two runners have run, Delzangles will be heading back to Australia to supervise
Dunaden’s participation in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
Delzangles said of his Juvenile Fillies Turf hope Flotilla,
“She’s quite a mature filly for a 2 year old, and has taken to things well out
here. She seems to have taken her run in the Marcel Boussac (finished 4th)
well and I was pleased with that run given the soft ground that day. She should
handle the ground here OK, and I will be hoping for a race run at a decent even
Of his Filly and Mare Turf hope Ridasiyna, Delzangles added,
“She impressed me last time in the Prix de l’Opera as I was worried about the
soft ground beforehand, but she won well in spite of it. This will be faster
ground than she has raced on, and she had her only bad run at Deauville on firm
ground, but before that she won on quick ground at Chantilly, so I think it
will be OK for her.”
In similar fashion to Wednesday, Alain de Royer-Dupre’s
Shareta (Turf) was put through her paces with another solid canter of the
track. The daughter of Sinndar, with two group I wins this season in the Prix
Vermeille and the Yorkshire Oaks, will be hoping to put the disappointment of
her 9th place in last month’s soft ground Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe
Mahmood Al Zarooni’s Artigiano (Juvenile Turf), who will be
ridden by Frankie Dettori on Saturday, had a stretch on the training track
before heading out on to the dirt.
Al Zarooni said afterward, “He’s well, and we’re ready. All
we can do now is pray for a little racing luck.”
Ceiling Kitty (Juvenile Sprint) was the last of the
Europeans to go to the main track Thursday. Trainer Tom Dascombe’s daughter of
Red Clubs looked a lot more settled than she did yesterday, and went three-quarters
of a circuit at a trot with her pony before returning back down the stretch at
a gentle canter.
Asked about her chances, Dascombe said of Ceiling Kitty, “To
be honest I am not sure how she’ll go. Five furlongs may be her best trip, the
dirt surface is an imponderable, so I am not sure quite what to expect. If she
breaks well, if she handles the dirt and if she gets the trip, then she’ll go
The Japanese runner in the Turf, Trailblazer, arrived at the
Quarantine Barn at Santa Anita at around 3.15 a.m. on Wednesday after a short
ride from Hollywood Park and was hand-walked on arrival for about an hour before
being allowed the rest of the day off.
On Thursday, Trailblazer walked for a while in the barn area
close to the Receiving Barn before going to the track and galloping a circuit.
Speaking on behalf of Team Japan, interpreter Mikki Tsuge reported all to be
well with the horse, and that his connections were pleased with the way the
horse was coming into the race.