Most trainers are spending this Breeders' Cup week convincing themselves and everyone around them they have the absolute best horse in their respective races. Dermot Weld, it should be known, is an exception to the rule.
The winningest trainer in the history of his native Ireland, Weld is famous for immaculately picking spots for his charges and lethally striking. In California, he has shipped in with Dress to Thrill and Dimitrova to win major stakes over the past year. One would think Weld is sitting on an unknown monster with Relaxed Gesture in Saturday's Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Not the case.
"I brought him here because I have a couple of other runners at the meeting and I want to see if I can bring him back to the States next year," said Weld. "It's unlikely he'll win or place, but I'd like to see him run a big race, have him learn a lot, and then be ready to come back for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) next year."
Weld is no stranger to triumphing in the third jewel of the Triple Crown. In 1990, he brought Go and Go to New York and took home Belmont honors. Go and Go prepped in the Juvenile after winning the Laurel Futurity. Weld is employing similar tactics now with Relaxed Gesture. The Moyglare Stud-owned colt finished a neck behind Azamour in the Beresford Stakes (Ire-IIT) at the Curragh Oct. 12 after breaking his maiden in August. He has but three lifetime starts.
"I figured we'd run him now and see how he gets on," Weld noted. "It's a learning curve for the horse and for me. We'll see how he acclimates and how he gets on over the dirt. Should he run a nice race he could be a horse to train for next year's Belmont. He's talented, but inexperienced, and I want to find out about him."
So the famous Weld planning is in effect, only it is for next year with this juvenile. "I'm not picking this spot because I think he'll win here," Weld said. "I'm planning all the time, and with this one I'm planning for next year. He'll either stay and run in the group races in Europe next year, because he's good enough to do that, or come back here for the Belmont. I've always wanted to come back and try to win that one again, and I have a feeling this could be the horse. The Belmont comes at a good time of year for Europeans. If he surprises us, maybe he could be a Kentucky Derby horse.
"His action makes me think he'll be alright on dirt. He's by Indian Ridge, which is European pedigree. But he'll tell us this week whether he can be trained for the dirt."
A big performance from Relaxed Gesture might surprise Weld, but given the conditioner's record recently in Californian, might surprise everyone else a good deal less.