After a 45-minute drive in rush hour traffic that normally would take 10-15 minutes, two vans carrying Aidan O'Brien's eight Breeders' Cup horses finally pulled up to the Arlington Park quarantine barn just after 6 p.m.
The evening quiet suddenly erupted in activity, as Ballydoyle handlers, shipping agents, Drexler van employees, and the crew from the International Racing Bureau flew into action. Several people were wearing red jackets, with the words "The Rock" on the back, saluting the king of the Ballydoyle, Rock of Gibraltar.
The unloading process seemed endless, with the horses coming off the van in five to 10 minute intervals. The first van contained the powerful 3-year-old brigade, with Landseer, winner of the French 2,000 Guineas and Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland the first off, followed by English and Irish Derby winner High Chaparral, the mighty Rock of Gibraltar, winner of a record seven straight group I races, and Hawk Wing, winner of the Eclipse Stakes and runner-up in the English 2,000 Guineas and English Derby.
The second van carried the 2-year-olds, with Tomahawk, runner-up in last Saturday's Dewhurst Stakes, leading the way. Then came Marino Marini, unplaced in the Dewhurst who is on the also-eligible list. Finally came the two big guns Hold That Tiger, winner of the Grand Criterium at Longchamp and the $6.4 million yearling Van Nistelrooy, winner of two stakes, while placing in two others.
"They all traveled great," said Ballydoyle's head lad Pat Keating. "Not one of them turned a hair."
O'Brien, who flew with the horses last year, is scheduled to arrive in Chicago sometime Wednesday afternoon. The Ballydoyle horses will remain quarantined while their bloodwork is done in Ames, Iowa. They are expected to be on the track Thursday morning.
Being released from quarantine at 9 o'clock Tuesday morning were several European shippers, headed by the Michael Stoute pair of Golan and Islington, both of whom made a splendid appearance as they headed to the track for the first time.