Conor Murphy, owner and trainer of Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) hopeful Dimension, was born in 1983, just one year before the Breeders' Cup began. Growing up in County Cork, Ireland, he learned about the Breeders' Cup through the Irish horses who competed and, in many cases, won.
"My favorite horse was probably High Chaparrel (two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf, gr. IT, in 2002 and 2003)," Murphy said. "But I suppose the one who got me really interested in the Breeders' Cup was Johannesburg, who won the Juvenile (gr. I, in 2001) at Belmont Park. He was such a good 2-year-old in Ireland."
Murphy's Irish accent coupled with Dimension being foaled in Great Britain would indicate that they belong in the quarantine barn at Santa Anita Park with the other Europeans. But Murphy and Dimension arrived Oct. 29 from Kentucky, where both have repatriated.
"We had a tough day traveling, so I just decided to give him a quiet day," said Murphy the morning of Oct. 30. "He ate up all his food last night and got tucked into his breakfast this morning, so that's a good sign."
The flight, which began in New York and picked up Dimension in Kentucky, had to fly around some weather and then stop in Oklahoma to refuel. It was about 90 minutes behind schedule.
"He's ready to go—he doesn't need much now," said Murphy. "All his work is done, so we'll just freshen him up for the next few days."
Bred by Cheveley Park Stud Ltd., Dimension is a 5-year-old gelded son of Medicean—Palatial, by Green Desert. Murphy, who had been training on his own for a year, purchased Dimension privately in mid-2012 and brought him to Kentucky.
"I bought him from England to be a miler over here," Murphy said. "He ran good races at a mile in England. I thought with the flatter tracks here, he would be at least a miler."
Dimension preferred shorter distances, however. He ran second at 6 1/2 furlongs in the Bold Venture Stakes (Can-III) at Woodbine on a synthetic surface to two-time Canadian champion sprinter Essence Hit Man. Dimension then won the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT) by 2 1/4 lengths before finishing fifth to Wise Dan in the Woodbine Mile (Can-IT).
"When he won the Play the King Stakes impressively, I suppose I was thinking Breeders' Cup after that," said Murphy.
Though California horses that have experience with Santa Anita's unique downhill turf course have won all of the Turf Sprints contested at Santa Anita, Dimension has an advantage over other U.S. shippers.
"He was second in a big handicap at Goodwood, which is very undulating," Murphy said. "I think he'll love the course. He's a well-balanced horse as well."
Dimension drew post 13, just to the outside of Mizdirection, a California-based mare who won the race last year. David Moran, who has been aboard Dimension in his three Woodbine starts, has the mount.
Before going out on his own, Murphy worked in America for trainers Niall O'Callaghan and David Carroll.
"I did a couple of spells with both of them and then moved back overseas," he said. "I worked for a time in England for Nicky Henderson, who is the champion jump trainer."
Murphy is based at the Skylight Training Center near Louisville, Ky.
"We've got a Polytrack there, which is great," he said. "I'm very lucky to be there. There are only four barns there."
Murphy has five horses in training. But if Dimension can win the Turf Sprint for him, he's likely to attract a few more clients.