With just days to go before the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park, the question of whether Rock Of Gibraltar would compete in the Classic or the NetJets Mile remained unanswered. Even the colt's jockey said he doesn't know.
Alex Ferguson and Mrs. John Magnier's Rock Of Gibraltar left Ireland Oct. 22 on a flight to the United States with seven other Aidan O'Brien trainees, but the trainer wasn't expected to make the Oct. 23 post-position draw for the eight-race Breeders' Cup series. Meanwhile, jockey Michael Kinane, who has ridden Rock Of Gibraltar in nine of his 10 victories, said he didn't know about the plan for the Danehill colt.
"I'd like to know the answer to that myself," Kinane said by telephone during a press conference at Harry Caray's restaurant in downtown Chicago the afternoon of Oct. 22.
Kinane, also the regular rider of Mrs. John Magnier's Hawk Wing, said he didn't know if the O'Brien-trained Woodman colt would go in the Classic or the Mile. He said he believed Hawk Wing would go in the Classic, but hadn't been informed of the decision.
"I don't make the decisions," Kinane said. "I only ride 'em."
Kinane was one of several personalities on hand by phone or in person for the luncheon organized by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup. About 100 people attended, including representatives from CBS, NBC, FOX, and WGN television stations.
The purpose of the event was to drum up some mainstream media coverage for the Breeders' Cup in advance of the races. Members of the print and radio media also attended.
Trainer Robert Frankel, who has seven horses pre-entered for the World Thoroughbred Championships, spoke about Juddmonte Farms' Banks Hill, who had been trained by Andre Fabre. She officially entered his care after her troubled third-place finish in the Oct. 5 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
"I really don't know her," Frankel said. "I just put her into my system of training. I would have liked to have had her longer."
Frankel called the Yellow Ribbon an "easy race" for Banks Hill, winner of last year's Filly & Mare Turf. He said she has "high cruising speed," and expects to see her near the early pace under jockey Jerry Bailey.
When asked why Juddmonte Farms' Beat Hollow was entered in the NetJets Mile instead of the the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf, Frankel said: "He's a little too keen to go a mile and a half. He's into the bridle a little too much to get a mile and a half."
Frankel also said Edmund Gann's Medaglia d'Oro is "training beautifully" for the Classic, a race for which has been pointed. "He'll be the best-looking horse in the race, that's for sure," he said.
Trainer John Salzman, co-owner of Xtra Heat along with Kenneth Taylor, said the $5,000 purchase turned winner of more than $2 million doesn't need the lead, and in fact could be rated in the NAPA Breeders' Cup Sprint.
"I might think about taking her back -- maybe," Salzman said with a laugh. "There are some fast horses in there."