Declaration of War made his first appearance on the track at Santa Anita Park Thursday morning, Oct. 31, and had a nice once-around gallop, with regular rider Joseph O'Brien, son of trainer Aidan O'Brien, aboard to pony.
The elder O'Brien said the move was "just to stretch his legs," and he likely will have a bit stiffer move Firday, Nov. 1.
O'Brien, who has been in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) 13 times, finishing second with Giant's Causeway in 2000 and Henrythenavigator in 2008, realizes how tough it is to win, but he will continue his quest to capture America's richest race
"The Classic is a great race and as long as we're alive we'll keep trying," he said. "But I've stopped dreaming about winning it. We've brought all types of horses and we haven't been able to win it, so we'll just keep trying to find the right horse.
"Declaration of War is a tough horse who is very much like Giant's Causeway. But unlike Giant's Causeway, who could get a bit lazy early in the race, Declaration of War always wants to go, and that might not be the best way to win the Classic. But he does have the speed to keep pace (with the American horses)."
Pulling out all stops, O'Brien sent Declaration of War to Southwell Racecourse near Nottingham 10 days ago to work in company with two horses over the fibersand surface, which is the closest synthetic surface to dirt, and because it is very deep and loose, it would enable him to get dirt kicked in his face.
"We worked him with two group I winners, but because he has so much natural speed, he was too close to the other two to get a lot of dirt kicked in his face. We would have liked to seen a little farther back and get that kickback. We also had sent Giant's Causeway to Southwell. With Declaration of War, he eventually went on by those other two horses."
Declaration of War was withdrawn from the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) and either the Champion Stakes (Eng-I) or Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot the same day when the ground came up too soft.
Joseph, who became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race when he captured the Turf (gr. IT) aboard St Nicholas Abbey at age 18, realizes the dirt is the big unknown factor for Declaration of War.
"He's a tough, consistent horse and he's run in all the big races this year," he said. "He's had a little bit of a break, but it's difficult to know how he's going to handle the dirt. But we're hopeful he can take a big stride, and if he does and handles the dirt, I imagine he'll run a massive race. He's got lot of pace from six furlongs and longer, so he'll definitely get the trip."