Aidan O'Brien, who has captured Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships races the past two years, with High Chaparral and Johannesburg, is planning to return this year with several top-class horses, and hopes to be represented in four races.
O'Brien will have Hold That Tiger for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) following the colt's excellent second-place finish behind Mineshaft in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I). Hold That Tiger was making only his fourth start of the year, after three out-of-the money performances, and was coming off a two-month layoff.
"He's doing fine," O'Brien said from his headquarters at Ballydoyle. "We were hoping he'd run well in the Woodward, so we could prepare him for the Classic, and everything is going according to plan."
With Hold That Tiger's big effort against Mineshaft, are there any regrets not bringing the son of Storm Cat back to America for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after his sensational third-place finish in last year's Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I)?
"We always knew he had brilliance; we saw that in the Juvenile," O'Brien said. "But we messed him up in the spring. We made a lot of mistakes, and hopefully we can learn from them."
O'Brien also will be sending Eclipse champion High Chaparral, third in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fra-I), back to America to defend his title in the Turf (gr. IT). In the Arc, High Chaparral was stuck behind horses turning into the stretch, but once he got clear he didn't show the burst of speed he's demonstrated in his other races.
"He's only been beaten three times in his career, and each time it was on a right-handed course," O'Brien said. "He's always had trouble with his off shoulder, so maybe that's the reason why he's not as good on a right-handed course."
O'Brien said he's also planning to send Irish One Thousand Guineas winner Yesterday for the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) and Statue of Liberty for the NetJets Mile (gr. IT). Yesterday also was second, beaten a neck, in the English Oaks (Eng-I) and was second, beaten a head, in the Prix Vermeille (Fra-I) and Prix de l'Opera (Fra-I). Statue of Liberty was second, beaten a head, in the Sussex Stakes (Eng-I) earlier this year, but is coming off two disappointing races.
O'Brien said he's also contemplating sending one or two others over.