There should be no doubting Rock of Gibraltar for the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) now. Any questions about the talents of the 'Rock' had to have been quickly dispelled after Sunday afternoon, when Landseer, a victim of Rock of Gibraltar once this year and once last year at two, won the Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile Stakes (gr. IT).Landseer
, like Rock of Gibraltar, a son of Danehill trained by Aidan O'Brien, is no slouch himself at a mile. He battled Rock of Gibraltar to a nose decision in the seven-furlong Dewhurst Stakes (Eng-I) at two and finished only 1 1/2 lengths behind him in the St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I) during the Royal Ascot meeting in June. In his second start of the year, on May 12, Landseer won the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Fr-I), or the French Two Thousand Guineas, at a mile. In his U.S. debut at Keeneland, all he did was defeat America's top runner for the mile, Juddemonte Farm's Beat Hollow
by a neck and a half-length.
Landseer is owned by the Coolmore connections of Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier. Rock of Gibraltar is owned by Magnier and Alex Ferguson.
One concern going toward Chicago and the Breeders' Cup for Landseer would be the "bounce" theory for European runners. Often times, when an European import runs a corker in his first race, he's not as sharp in his second--or vice versa. An example of the later was Miss Alleged in 1991. After running an uninspiring fifth in Laurel's International (gr. IT), she came back to win the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at 42-1.
The runner-up at Keeneland was Gainsborough Farm's Touch of the Blues
, who loves the turf course at Keeneland. A winner of the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) there in April, Touch of the Blues is a stone-closer . A troubled-fifth in the Atto Mile (gr. IT) on Sept. 8, Touch of the Blues again came with a late run to just be beaten a neck in the Shadwell. Historically, deep closers haven't had the best luck in the Breeders' Cup Mile, but two years ago, War Chant came from 12th to first with a sweeping, wide move at Churchill Downs.
Touch of the Blues effort should also flatter the form of Atto Mile winner, Good Journey
At Oak Tree, Night Patrol
won the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) for Jeff Nielsen's Everest Stables. The margin of victory was a scant nose over the Chilean-bred Kachamandi
, who had just a nose on Nicobar
. The disappointment of the race was Congaree
, who finished seventh in the eight-horse field.
Night Patrol, a 6-year-old gelding by Storm Boot, has two big things in his favor for his trip to Chicago: he'll attempt to be the fourth straight winner of the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile to win the Mile at Arlington Park, and he's trained by Nick Canani. Canani is the son of Julio Canani, who has started three horses in the Breeders' Cup Mile, two of which, Silic and Val Royal, were winners.
In New York, the Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) provided an upset as Green Fee
roared past the even-money Forbidden Apple in deep stretch to win by a half-length. Green Fee, who began his 2002 campaign against $75,000 claiming company for trainer Dan Pietz, is a mile specialist by Green Dancer out of the Rahy mare Raska. Robert and Lawana Low's homebred is a half-brother to the quick 2-year-old Posse but there is nothing quick early about Green Fee. Another strong closer, he chased a fast pace in the Kelso. Arthur Appleton's Forbidden Apple
, ridden by regular rider Jose Santos, is always one to attend the pace, but in the Kelso, was several lengths off the leaders early. He'll continue on to the Breeders' Cup for trainer Christophe Clement, and hope to improve upon his second-place finish last year. Different tactics in Chicago should be in the offing.
The European contingent got another runner in the form of Domedriver
, winner of the mile Prix Daniel Wildenstein (Fr-II) during the Arc weekend at Longchamp. Trained by Pascal Bary for the Niarchos family, Domedriver won by a head over Suggestive. Bary trained Miss Alleged to win the Turf in 1991.
William Hill's latest odds for the Mile are as follows: 5-4 on Rock of Gibraltar; 6-1 on Landseer; 7-1 on Beat Hollow; 8-1 for Domedriver and Forbidden Apple; 12-1 on Touch of the Blues. 14-1 for Good Journey and Irish Prize; 16-1 on Dressed to Thrill; 20-1 for Bach, Night Patrol, and Redattore; 25-1 for Decarchy and Del Mar Show; and 33-1 for Green Fee.
Fab Five Contenders:
1)Rock of Gibraltar/ Aidan O'Brien/ Alex Ferguson and Susan Magnier
2)Good Journey/ Wally Dollase/ Flaxman Holdings, Gary Margolis, Michael Jarvis, Dollase, et al.
3)Beat Hollow/ Bobby Frankel/ Juddmonte Farm
4)Landseer/ Aidan O'Brien/ Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier
5)Forbidden Apple/ Christophe Clement/ Arthur I. Appleton