A plane bearing 16 European-based horses from the Godolphin Racing stables of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai landed at Lindbergh Field Saturday evening and the cargo was transported to the quarantine area for international runners in the Del Mar stable area early Sunday morning.
Some of the Godolphin horses on the flight, assigned to various trainers, were: Ribchester (Mile), Talismanic (Turf), Masar (Juvenile Turf), Madeleine (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Home of the Brave (Mile).
The last batch of Europeans, representatives of trainer Aidan O’Brien from Ireland, is scheduled to arrive Monday at Los Angeles International Airport.
O’Brien, who became the record holder for Grade I stakes victories in a single year on Saturday, has 19 horses pre-entered, encompassing nine of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races, albeit some are named to more than one event with decisions due for Monday’s final entries and post position draw.
O’Brien has Churchill and War Decree pre-entered in the climactic $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday.
Churchill, a 3-year-old Irish-bred son of Galileo, has been exclusively raced on turf while posting seven wins from 12 starts with earnings of more than $1.7 million. His Group I victories this year came three weeks apart in May in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in England and the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh in Ireland.
War Decree, a 3-year-old son of War Front, was taken off the turf for the first time in six career starts and responded with a 2 ¼-length victory in the 1 ¼-mile (Classic distance) Group III Koffy Diamond Stakes on the artificial surface at Dundalk in Ireland on September 19.
Getting to Know Del Mar, Gun Runner Gallops Two Miles
Looking every bit the favorite that he figures to be for Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, Gun Runner galloped two miles around the Del Mar track on Sunday morning, the third day of his presence after shipping south from Santa Anita.
“He’s doing great,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. “We’ll put another half-mile (work) in him tomorrow morning just to let him get acquainted with the track. He was just bouncing over it this morning and pulling up he didn’t get much of a blow out of it and I like to see that.”
Blasi said Gun Runner’s work on Monday, tentatively scheduled for 6:30 a.m., would more likely go at 6:50 or so when the dawn would have broken and visibility would be better.
“He’s physically more mature and stronger this year than he was last year at Santa Anita (second in the BC Dirt Mile) and he’s just gotten faster,” Blasi said.
In the Classic, Gun Runner will be facing a power-laden quartet from trainer Bob Baffert – Arrogate, Collected, Cupid and Mubtaahij – among others. But Del Mar oddsmaker Russ Hudak, who will be making the morning line, said that Gun Runner will probably be his choice for favoritism.
“He’s the sharpest coming in of a lot of very good horses,” Hudak said.
Blasi also supervised works for Tap Daddy and Snapper Sinclair, who are both on the also eligible list for Friday’s $1 million Juvenile Turf, the first Breeders’ Cup event of the two-day championships.
Del Mar clockers timed Tap Daddy, a son of Scat Daddy who was second, moved up via disqualification in the Grade III Bourbon at Keeneland, in :49.60 for four furlongs. Snapper Sinclair, a son of City Zip and recent winner of the $346,000 Turf Juvenile at Kentucky Downs, was tabbed in :49.80.
“Almost identical works,” Blasi said of the separate exercises under Angel Garcia. “We’re trying not to do too much with them on top of the race but we’re excited about getting an opportunity, hopefully, to run them.”
First Opportunity for Turf Works is Taken by Many
Six of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races will be contested over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course and Sunday was the first of three straight days when the grass oval was open for workouts by pre-entrants.
Trainer Brian Lynch sent out Oscar Performance, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, for a half-mile work in :47 flat.
“He went as comfortable as a horse could work,” Lynch told Gary Yunt of the Breeders’ Cup notes team. “The way he did it, I thought he went in :49.
“It was quicker than his work last week at Keeneland (4f, :51.40). The main work was done last week at Keeneland and this was very good as well.”
Oscar Performance will be facing Arlington Million and Belmont Park Turf Classic Invitational winner Beach Patrol and a host of European standouts in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. If successful, Oscar Performance would be the first to follow a Juvenile Turf victory with one in the Mile or the Turf the following year.
Among other turf workers on Sunday were: Run Away (3f, :36.20), Birdie Gold (4f, :49.60), Cambodia (5f, 1:01.40), On Leave (4f, :48.60), McErin (4f, :46.40), Elizabeth D’Arcy (4f, :47.40), Fairyland (4f, :46.80), Capla Temptress (3f, :37 flat), Om (3f, :35.20), Vigor (3f, :35.20), Catholic Boy (4f, :47.80), Hemp Hemp Hooray (4f, :47.60), Lady Aurelia (4f, :48.60), Ultima D (:47.80), War Flag (5f, 1:03.20) and Hunt (6f, 1:14.80).
Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Reports includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race for the Breeders’ Cup from Del Mar on Nov. 3-4.
The Breeders’ Cup offers 13 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Del Mar.