On a morning in which very few horses left their barns, there was plenty of activity over at the quarantine barn, as several new arrivals from Europe took to the track despite the rainy, blustery conditions.
At 6:30 a.m., last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winner Ouija Board and the Jeremy Noseda-trained Majors Cast arrived at JFK Airport, pulling into Belmont Park at 8 a.m. "It was a terrific flight,"said Alastair Donald of the International Racing Bureau.
The French horses were cleared from quarantine around 9, and immediately went to the track, with Bago and Whipper cantering on the main track and Set Alight and the Andre Fabre-trained pair of Shirocco and Valixir, going to the training track.
Luca Cumani had scheduled Starcraft and Alkaased for a light canter on the training track, but was able to use Allen Jerkens' indoor track. Cumani accompanied both horses to Jerkens' barn, and enquired about the length of the track. Jerkens told him seven times around equaled one mile, after which Cumani had both colts trot six times around right handed and six left handed.
In an unusual move, Cumani obtained permission to train Alkaased every afternoon at 4:30 on the training track. "He's a horse who needs a lot of exercise," said Cumani, who indicated that Alkaased may not run in the John Deere Turf (gr. IT) if the course is too soft.
Cumani admitted it was a big gamble running Starcraft on the dirt for the first time, especially at a supplementary cost of $800,000. "It was a bold decision, but a decision I approve of," he said. "If you're going to bring a horse to the Classic it would be a big, strong horse like this."
Also going to track this morning was the John Gosden-trained pair of Leo and Karen's Caper, who were accompanied by Favourable Terms, trained by Michael Stoute. Later in the morning, it was Azamour's turn, as he went out by himself for a canter.