The connections of two U. S. turf specialists said Thursday they plan to embark on race campaigns this year that will include France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp Oct. 2.
The news emerged Thursday morning in Dubai, two days away from the world's richest race meeting.
Ken Ramsey, the owner of John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) runner-up Kitten's Joy, and Kenny McPeek, whose Prince Arch runs in Saturday's Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) over 12 furlongs on turf, both showed enthusiasm for running those horses in the Arc, Europe's end-of-season middle distance showdown.
"I have a big ego," Ramsey grinned. "Just the fact that I could win one of Europe's premier races makes me want to run in the Arc. The prize-money – that's not great. But the prestige makes me want to run there. It's three weeks before the Breeders' Cup but I would rather accept the challenge of winning a race like the Arc than win the Breeders' Cup. We tried that last year and came iin second."
Ramsey, who is reveling in his stay in Dubai to watch Rose In May run in the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), has already taken advice about an Arc raid from Chantilly trainer Nicholas Clement and his American-based brother Christophe, and said he would seek to give Kittens Joy a prep race in Europe, although Dale Romans would continue as trainer.
A European jockey would ride the son of El Prado
, Ramsey reasoning, "I understand it's a difficult course, (so) we need somebody who has been there and done it before."
Meanwhile, Kitten's Joy, who was voted an Eclipse Award as champion turf male last year, is back in training after recovering from a chip in his knee that was detected following the Breeders Cup. "I guess he got a Purple Heart for combat," Ramsey said. "He came back super after his first work. There's no heat in the knee now, and we will probably start him off in an allowance race."
As well as the Arc, McPeek is considering a crack at the King George VI and Queen Eizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I), run at Newbury instead of Ascot this year, in July. McPeek saddled Hard Buck to finish second to Doyen in last year's King George.
"I don't think it is something to be afraid of," McPeek said about Prince Arch's potential European odyssey. "Horses will overcome a lot of different things."
The trainer sounded a bullish note about the prospects of both his runners, Prince Arch and Durban Thunder, who takes on Shamardal in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) over 9 furlongs on dirt.
"I think he has got a great chance," McPeek said. "His last run (a victory in the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, gr. IT, March 6), I was really using as a prep race. I was pleasantly surprised to see him win. He's a horse that's going to be internationally recognized in the next couple of years."
Durban Thunder is having his first run for McPeek, having been champion juvenile in Brazil last season. "I have a lot of respect for Brazilian horses. They're tough," McPeek said. "He has had a long absence from the track (since July last year) and I would have liked to have had a race with him. But he had a fever in March and I was cautious with him. I don't think his absence (from racing) is going to be a huge disadvantage."