A showdown between Ghaiyyath, Magical and Mogul could put the “world” back in world championships next month in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, according to the primary conduit connecting U.S. and European racing.
“These are possibles rather than probables,” said managing director Alastair Donald of the International Racing Bureau, the British company that for decades has handled details for most European owners and trainers shipping to the Breeders’ Cup.
As connected as anyone to the horsemen in Europe, Donald said the candidates for the 1 1/2-mile Turf include Godolphin’s four-time Group 1 winner Ghaiyyath (2-1 in foreign futures), Prix de l’Opéra (G1) victor Tarnawa (8-1) plus Coolmore Group 1 winners Mogul (8-1), Magical (10-1) and Japan (20-1).
“Ghaiyyath will probably be (entered) in the Classic and Turf,” Donald said.
But two-time Oaks-winning filly Love, 3-1 in Breeders’ Cup Turf futures, apparently will not at Keeneland.
“With a view to keeping her in training next year, I think the lads are maybe leaving her for this year,” Coolmore trainer Aidan O’Brien told reporters Tuesday, according to Racing TV in the U.K. “There’s a strong possibility that she won’t run anymore this year.”
Love was one of five O’Brien horses that missed out on this month’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). She was scratched because of the soft ground. The other four – Mogul, Japan, Serpentine and Sovereign – were withdrawn after drug-test failures were blamed on contaminated feed.
O’Brien said that Mogul might be coming to America, even though he is also nominated to race in this weekend’s British Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot. “Mogul is not definite (for Saturday), because he could go straight to the Breeders’ Cup Turf,” O’Brien said.
Magical (10-1), Coolmore’s 2018 Turf runner-up, is focused first on defending her 2019 victory in the Champion Stakes. But O’Brien said a trip to Kentucky to race again three weeks later was not out of the question.
“It will be whatever the lads (Coolmore owners) decide,” O’Brien said. “I imagine if everything was well with her she could go to the Breeders’ Cup.”
He also said that Serpentine (16-1), his long-shot winner of the Epsom Derby, could be in the Turf depending on how he does against Magical and the rest of the field in the Champion Stakes.
“He has to run somewhere shortly,” O’Brien said. “Either that or we have to back off him altogether. The options for him after Saturday are the Breeders’ Cup, the Japan Cup (G1 Nov. 29) and the races in Hong Kong (Dec. 13).”
Ghaiyyath being named to perhaps make his dirt debut next month at Keeneland led Circa Sports in Las Vegas to make him 18-1 for the $6 million Classic. But Donald emphasized the uncertainty of being in the running for two races.
“Some will be cross-entered,” he said. “You never know how oversubscribed some of the fields are, who gets a run, and who doesn’t.”
Donald said the Dermot Weld-trained 4-year-old Tarnawa is also a possibility for the Filly & Mare Turf, for which she is the 4-1 futures favorite. Love is 8-1 for the 1 3/16-mile race, in which Donald said Irish Group 2 winner Cayenne Pepper (9-1) and Guineas victor Peaceful (16-1) also are possibilities.
Recent Group 2 winner Kameko (7-1) and the Coolmore pair of Circus Maximus (12-1) and Lope y Fernández (25-1) were identified by Donald as the main European contenders for the Mile. Conspicuous by his absence was futures favorite Palace Pier (11-2), who is odds-on for Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) at Ascot.
Early favorite Battaash (11-4), the 6-year-old gelding who is 3-for-3 this year, led the candidates for the Turf Sprint with Oxted (12-1) and Glass Slippers (16-1) also possibilities. “Not a huge amount of strength and depth that I can see,” Donald said.
Battleground (5-1) is the favorite for the Juvenile Turf, and the Group 2 winner is expected to come off three months’ rest to race in Kentucky after skipping an important race last weekend at Newmarket.
“Obviously he didn’t go to the Dewhurst,” O’Brien said. “We’re thinking of going to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with him. He seems to be in good form at the moment.”
Godolphin’s One Ruler is also a candidate for the Juvenile Turf, according to Donald, as are The Lir Jet (20-1), Method and Mighty Gurkha. Donald said that The Lir Jet also could be pre-entered in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.
“There are sure to be others that pop up between now and then,” Donald said, referring to the Oct. 6 pre-entry deadline. “We have a fairly big day coming up at Ascot on Saturday.”