Transduction Gold will be moving up to the big leagues Saturday when he tackles the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park. He'll be taking on rivals that include two former winners of the race -- Better Talk Now and Red Rocks -- along with the formidable Irish champion and recent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) winner Dylan Thomas.
The competition is so tough that Transduction Gold could "run the race of his life and finish fifth or sixth," said his trainer, co-breeder, and co-owner John Glenney. But even if that turns out to be the case, there still will be a feeling of pride that the Formal Gold gelding made it to racing's World Championships.
"It's a lot of fun to have a homebred here that you've watched along the way," Glenney said. "You know them, and they know you. It's like your kids being in the World Series. It's a big step up, and it means more to us because we've had him for four years."
This isn't Glenney's first trip to Monmouth Park.
"We had Kim Loves Bucky, who is this horse's half-brother, and he ran at Monmouth in the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT)," Glenney said. "He didn't embarrass himself, and this guy, I think, is better than his half-brother. He's further along at this stage in his career."
Following an 11th-place finish in the Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs in May, Transduction Gold underwent a surgical throat procedure commonly known as a "tie-back."
"Last winter you could always hear him making noise when he was galloping, and he would come back gasping for air," Glenney said. "Since the surgery, we haven't heard any noise. He's getting his air, and you can tell he's training much better because he's not running out of air."
Transduction Gold returned to competition Sept. 7 at Turfway Park, finishing fourth at a mile on the Polytrack. He then defeated Bee Charmer by a neck in the Oct. 5 Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland.
"I thought he wasn't going to be ready for the Sycamore, and I still don't think he was 100% in terms of fitness," Glenney said
He decided to try Transduction Gold in the Turf "because he came out of the race in such great shape that I was expecting him to run a better race after that, and there's not many 1 1/2-mile turf races at this time of year. He's got a nice way of going, and he's definitely a distance grass horse."
Transduction Gold probably won't be bothered by turf that has been softened by the rain this week.
"He ran last fall at Keeneland on yielding turf, and he did fine," Glenney said. "He went out on the lead and got caught at the end. It's hard to go out on the lead on soft turf and wire the field. But even though he didn't win, he ran a very good race.'
However, if it's raining when the Turf is run, there could be a problem.
"I don’t think the condition of the turf bothers him, but he hates the rain," Glenney said. "When he gets out there, and the rain is coming down, he's shaking his head. He just does not like it. He had a work at Turfway Park when it was pouring down rain, and it was just a terrible work. He just turned his head and didn’t want to go."
Glenney has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, but when he trains Transduction Gold and his other horses, he isn't very scientific in his methods.
"There's a lot that applies just in the scientific way you think about things because you don't believe in everything you hear," Glenney said. "You've got to have proof, and one race is not proof. But it doesn't have much to do with training at all. A lot of times, I've tried to introduce more scientific things -- heart rate and so on and so forth -- but I haven't found them to be all that useful, to tell you the truth. I realized I could see more just going out to the track and watching them go around in circles and just by being in the stall and seeing their mood. There's a lot to that."