Last Planes Carrying European BC Starters Arrive Sunday
by Dan Liebman
Date Posted: 10/19/2003 4:37:09 PM
Last Updated: 10/20/2003 10:33:40 AM

All of the Europeans scheduled to compete in the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are on the grounds at Santa Anita, although Aiden O'Brien's two juvenile colts did not make the trip.

Neither Old Deuteronomy or Grand Reward were on the flight that arrived on Sunday. It has been announced Old Deuteronomy would not ship, but upon arrival it was noted neither 2-year-old was shipped.

Those from Europe that have arrived in Southern California are finding the weather much warmer than where their flights originated.

The temperature has soared to the '90s and will remain there throughout most of Breeders' Cup week. The early forecast for Breeders' Cup day is for a high of 86.

The first to arrive was Islington, who will be one of the favorites in the Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT). Trained by Michael Stoute, the Sadler's Wells filly, who finished third in the race last year with a horrible trip, arrived at Santa Anita on Oct. 17.

Just after midnight the following night (Oct. 18), Falbrav (trained by Luca Cumani), Oasis Dream (John Gosden), Refuse to Bend and Relaxed Gesture (both Dermot Weld) arrived at the track and were sequestered in one of three quarantine barns.

The last two flights of Europeans arrived Sunday, one with the contingent trained by O'Brien, the other with two fillies trained in France, Bright Sky and Six Perfections.

O'Brien's group consists of last year's Turf (gr. IT) winner High Chaparral as well as Statue of Liberty, Hold That Tiger, L'Ancresse, and Yesterday.

Nick Clarke of the International Racing Bureau said he walked the entire turf course and would be reporting to the European trainers that they would have no excuses come race day.

"It is cut short, but it has enough give to it," Clarke said. "They have put the right amount of water on it. When you push down on it, it springs back."

Just after training hours Sunday morning, with those on the turf working around dogs placed well out on the course, the sprinkler system activated and gave the course another good dousing. Workers then walked the stretch replacing divots and driving loose pieces of turf back down.

No decision has been made as to whether Falbrav will start in the Turf or Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), but Clarke said the Classic is being strongly considered.

"The trainer believes he has the best horse in the world. He would have nothing to lose by running in the Classic. Even a second would show just how talented he is."

The Europeans have certainly found they can compete in the Classic. They won the race the last time it was held at Santa Anita, in 1993 with Arcangues. They also have come very close with Swain, Giant's Causeway and Sakhee.

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