While the Cup horses from Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle Stables remain in quarantine until they are able to make their first appearance on the track Thursday, the trainer was at the barn on Wednesday morning and spent some time with members of the international media discussing some of his Breeders' Cup hopefuls:
Of St Nicholas Abbey, defending champion in the Breeders' Cup Turf, O'Brien said, "I think it is safe to say you can put a line through his last run in the (Group 1 Prix d l') Arc (de Triomphe). (Jockey) Joseph (O'Brien) knew after a furlong or so that the horse was in trouble on that ground, and did his best to look after the horse as well as he could. Hopefully it will be a different story on quicker ground here.
"He's been a great horse and a great servant to the yard -- he owes us nothing," the horseman went on, speaking of Marathon contender Fame and Glory. "This is a bit of an experiment, I suppose. He stays well, and it's really a question of whether, being a Montjeu, he handles the surface or not.
"As he's gotten older he's maybe just started to keep a little for himself; started to think a little, so we might try things a little differently. We'll put a pair of blinkers on him. Jamie (Spencer) might just try and jump him out and let him roll along and we'll see how he goes from there.
"As he's got older he appears to have got stronger and faster," O'Brien noted on Mile hopeful Excelebration. "When he won at Ascot, the ground was obviously a lot softer than he'll meet on Saturday, but hopefully he'll handle that OK. It was always the plan to come on to the Breeders' Cup after Ascot, and I suppose there is always the chance that two Group 1 races in two weeks is asking too much of the horse, but he seems in very good form."
The trainer will also saddle two in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in George Vancouver and Lines of Battle.
"In terms of their work at home, there's not much between the two, and Lines of Battle might just shade George Vancouver," he said. "But Ryan (Moore) picked George Vancouver as he felt that the step up to a mile, and the track here, would suit him. He's a 'Henry' (sired by Henrythenavigator) and he loved the fast ground and didn't act on the soft, and I think George Vancouver is the same. I have a lot of 'Henrys' at home who haven't had their ground this season as we've had such a wet year back in Ireland."
Despite the poor visibility trackside due to heavy fog Wednesday morning Dermot Weld's Marathon runner Sense of Purpose was the first European to take to the track with regular jockey Pat Smullen on board. The son of Galileo went a couple of circuits of the track before returning to the barn.
Ralph Beckett was on hand to supervise the morning work of his Juvenile Fillies Turf challenger Waterway Run, who did some gentle exercise on the dirt track.
"I'm happy enough with my filly, happier today than I was yesterday when I thought she might still be a little tired after the flight over, but she wasn't tired this morning," Beckett said. "Everything's going OK. She didn't draw that well (in post 10 of 14), but she's got Frankie (Dettori) on board, and I'll leave him to overcome that."
Rafael Bejarano was given the leg up on Tom Dascombe's Juvenile Sprint entrant Ceiling Kitty, who once again took a while to get used to the strange surroundings. She was put into the gate and gave the impression that she was not happy at all by planting herself firmly on the Santa Anita dirt. She then went for a circuit of the track, but never really settled.
I'm A Dreamer, headed to Friday's Filly & Mare Turf, went a nice steady canter for a circuit in the hands of English jockey Laura Pike. The daughter of Noverre will be hoping she can make it two wins in a year in America having already won the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park
The focus for the Europeans then moved to the turf track where Jeremy Noseda and John Gosden were on hand to witness their Breeders' Cup hopefuls stretch their legs. Filly & Mare Turf contender The Fugue, who will be bidding to give Gosden his fifth Breeders' Cup victory, did a steady canter for a circuit. William Buick who was on board was happy enough with his filly.
"She's very well and I'm happy with her," Buick said. "She's an athletic type, but she's intelligent too -- she handled the track and the turns fine and changed her leads too. That's all we asked of her."
Noseda's duo of The Gold Cheongsam and Fantastic Moon, headed to the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Juvenile Turf, respectively, also stretched their legs with Fantastic Moon doing a slightly stronger canter than his stablemate.
Joining those four on the turf was the Roger Charlton-trained Dundonnell, also going in the Juvenile Turf. Dundonnell was once again ridden by James Doyle, walking a circuit of the track with his pony before going around again in a canter.
Having left the track, all the horses went through the tunnel and did a few laps of the walking ring before returning to the barn.
The French were the next to come out on to the track with Mile runner Moonlight Cloud at the head of the group. She had a gentle walk of the main track before going a couple of circuits at a gentle canter. Trainer Freddy Head, who flew to California Tuesday night, was trackside to watch his Group 1 Prix du Moulin winner.
Afterward he was asked to compare Moonlight Cloud with his three-time Breeders' Cup Mile-winning mare Goldikova.
"You can't compare them, as there will only ever be one Goldikova," he stated. "But Moonlight Cloud is very good in her own right. As she has gotten older, she maybe has lost a little bit of her speed, but at the same time her stamina has improved, so she is now effective over further (ground)."
Turf hopeful Shareta, trained at Chantilly by Alain de Royer-Dupre, did the strongest piece of work of the French horses. Having warmed up with a gentle jog and a canter for two circuits, the daughter of Sinndar was then asked to move up a gear and did a much stronger canter for almost three-quarters of a lap.
The remainder of the French, Mikel Dezangles' Ridasiyna and Flotilla stretched their legs with a gentle canter. Ridasiyna is in the Filly & Mare Turf while Flotilla will try her luck in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Roger Varian's Nahrain, trying to go one better after being runner-up in last year's Filly & Mare Turf, saw the Santa Anita track for the first time and did nothing more than walk a circuit of the course.
Juvenile Fillies Turf entrant Sky Lantern did a more solid canter than Tuesday and went a circuit and a half of the track under the surveillance of Richard Hannon Jr.
Godolphin's Artigiano, headed to the Juvenile Turf, once again followed the same pattern as the past couple of mornings by first going out on to the training track before coming back and having a stretch on the dirt.
By design, the Breeders' Cup brings together horsemen from around the world, and this week has facilitated reunions for American-based trainer Simon Callaghan, a native of England.
"It's kind of nice to see and talk to the old European owners and trainers," said Callaghan, who will saddle Slim Shadey in the Turf on Saturday. "It's not that I know a lot of people, but it's kind of fun with everyone being here to socialize a little with some of the people I'd worked with and know from England. I went to a client's place in Marina del Rey last night and there's a few of us going out for dinner tonight. So it should be fun."
Among those planning dinner tonight: jockey Jamie Spencer, bloodstock agent Richard Down and Richard Varian, trainer of Nahrain.