BC Contenders Settle In
Breeders' Cup horses settling in at Churchill Downs
Trainer Todd Pletcher has 11 horses pre-entered for the 27th Breeders' Cup World Championships that will be held November 5 and 6 at Churchill Downs, and the horseman likes the hand he is holding.
'From top to bottom, this is the best group we've had,' said Pletcher, who has three Breeders' Cup victories on his resume. 'Certainly it is the best we've had for the Classic.'
With the exception of Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) prospect ALLURE D'AMOUR (Giant's Causeway), all of Pletcher's Breeders' Cup horses are at Churchill Downs more than a week before their races.
Malibu Prayer (inside) earned her first Grade 1 win in the Ruffian (Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com)
The four-time Eclipse Award winner will send out a leading Classic (G1) candidate in Edward Evans' homebred QUALITY ROAD (Elusive Quality), who went to the track at 6 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday under exercise rider Patti Barry. The four-time Grade 1 winner arrived at Churchill Downs at 4 a.m. on Tuesday after vanning from Belmont Park with Ladies' Classic contender MALIBU PRAYER (Malibu Moon), who is also owned by Evans.
'I wanted Quality Road to have some extra time here and the others I wanted to have them have a work over the track for the first time so it made sense to bring them all in,' Pletcher said. 'Allure d'Amour would fly in on Sunday once we are confident she will get in.'
Pletcher plans to work his Friday race entrants -- LIFE AT TEN (Malibu Moon), Malibu Prayer, R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi) and MORE THAN REAL (More Than Ready) -- on Saturday.
His Saturday race entrants -- Quality Road, UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie), STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini), PLUCK (More Than Ready), ROSE CATHERINE (Speightstown) and AIKENITE (Yes It's True) -- are scheduled to work Sunday.
John Velazquez, who scored the first of his seven Breeders' Cup victories here in 1998 aboard Da Hoss in the Mile (G1), has the riding assignment on six Pletcher horses. Velazquez's mounts are Quality Road, Uncle Mo, Life at Ten, R Heat Lightning, Aikenite and Allure d'Amour.
Pletcher will use Garrett Gomez and Javier Castellano on his other horses. Gomez is named on More Than Real, Pluck and Malibu Prayer. Castellano will ride Rose Catherine and Stay Thirsty.
Pletcher's horses usually attract a lot of interest and the trainer was asked which member of this year's Breeders' Cup roster could be flying under the radar.
'Stay Thirsty may be under the radar because he has the same owner (Michael Repole) as Uncle Mo, so he may be somewhat overlooked,' Pletcher said. 'He broke his maiden impressively and was second in the Hopeful (G1). He is bred to run a lot further than he has.'
Japanese Group 1 queen RED DESIRE (Jpn) (Gold Allure) visited the track at Churchill Downs for the first time on Wednesday morning. With exercise rider Takashi Saito up, the Tokyo Horse Racing Co. colorbearer had an easy canter once around the main track accompanied by a pony after spending five minutes in the mile chute.
'She will do the same tomorrow, but a little faster,' said Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for the four-year-old filly's ownership.
Red Desire is expected to work Saturday and Kent Desormeaux will have the Breeders' Cup mount.
Red Desire, who was cross-entered in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) as well as the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), which was the first preference, has had success against colts before. She broke her maiden at first asking against males and then ran third in the Japan Cup (Jpn-G1) to close out 2009.
'She ran so well against the colts in the Japan, beating among others (two-time Breeders' Cup Turf [G1] winner) Conduit (Ire), that we decided to go to Dubai,' Tada said. 'We thought about a prep on turf against fillies, but she would have had to carry a lot of weight, so we tried the all-weather track and beat them all (in the Maktoum Challenge Round Three [UAE-G2]).'
Red Desire finished 11th in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) and then returned to Japan.
'She was not herself in the World Cup,' Tada said. 'Her next race in Japan, she ran OK (finishing fourth), but was not in good condition. She was getting ready for a race in June and she bled in a workout and we gave her some time off.
'It was decided to bring her to the United States so she can be treated with Lasix,' Tada added.
Red Desire arrived at Belmont Park on September 16 and two weeks later ran third as the favorite in the Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) under Desormeaux. She arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning after training hours.
TELLING (A.P. Indy), who checked in seventh in the 2009 Turf at Santa Anita, is now at Churchill Downs preparing for his second attempt at the 1 1/2-mile affair, and trainer Steve Hobby has only one regret about the upcoming championship event.
'I just wish they'd run this at Saratoga,' Hobby said with a laugh as he prepared to take Telling to the track.
It's easy to understand Hobby's sentiments given the fact that Telling has won only twice in two years, both victories coming in the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) at Saratoga. The six-year-old horse, who exits a fifth in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at Belmont Park, arrived at Churchill Downs from Delaware Park on Monday.
'I think he is a little better this year,' Hobby said. 'He came out of the Belmont Park race really well. He was more tired this time last year.'
Telling received a five-month break following last year's Breeders' Cup.
'That break was good for him,' Hobby said. 'That was something he had not had before and he started this year fresh.'
Telling, who will be ridden in the Breeders' Cup by Castellano, finished fifth in the Louisville H. (G3) over the Matt Winn Turf Course in May.
'The turf was soft (yielding) that day and he wasn't fit yet,' Hobby said of Telling's second start of the year. 'You really have to watch the weather here, because he is much better on firm ground.'
Hobby plans to work Telling on Saturday.
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