Trainer Aidan O'Brien said on an international teleconference Thursday there is a chance both Rock of Gibraltar and Hawk Wing will run in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
Rock of Gibraltar, who has won a record seven group I races in a row, but has never run farther than one mile, has been pre-entered for the Mile and Classic, with the Mile being his first preference.
"We only did that because we had to give a preference," O'Brien said. "It's not written in stone what we're going to do. It's possible both he and Hawk Wing will line up in the Classic, but we won't make that decision until next Tuesday or Wednesday. We want to see how Hawk Wing and Landseer take the trip, and how well they all travel. But there definitely is a chance Rock of Gibraltar will run in the Classic. I know we're going into unknown territory, but we've always felt he'd get a mile and a quarter, and there are a number of dirt influences in his pedigree. His sire, Danehill, is by Danzig, and he has Bold Ruler and other dirt horses farther back in his pedigree."
O'Brien said the reason they'd experiment with Rock of Gibraltar in the Classic rather than go in the Mile, where he'd be the prohibitive favorite, is simple. "One race is worth $4 million and one race is worth $1 million," he said. "The Classic is a big pot."
Rock of Gibraltar last raced in the group I Prix du Moulin at Longchamp. He had previously won group I stakes at Newmarket, the Curragh, Ascot, and Goodwood.
Hawk Wing is coming off second-place finishes in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes following a bout with a cough that spread through O'Brien's yard. Previously, he had won the Eclipse Stakes and was second in the English Derby and 2,000 Guineas to stablemate High Chaparral.
O'Brien said the stable could be represented by as many as four 2-year-olds in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, with Hold That tiger and Van Nistelrooy considered definites at this point. O'Brien has several horses running in Saturday's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Hold That Tiger, who was hit bad with the cough, returned to win the Grand Criterium at Longchamp with a breathtaking stretch run.
O'Brien will saddle High Chaparral in the Turf, and he is looking for a big improvement off his third in the Arc de Triomphe. "He got very sick this summer and we couldn't do much with him," he said. "We were going to run him in a prep, but we couldn't get him right. It was my fault for not having mentally sharp in the Arc. Mick (Kinane) thought he was too relaxed, and when the other two quickened by him he wasn't ready for it."