Trainer Aidan O'Brien pre-entered five horses for the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Based at Ballydoyle in Ireland, O'Brien holds a strong pair for the NetJets Mile (gr. IT) despite the fact one of Europe's top milers, George Washington, has been entered to run in the $5-million Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at 10 furlongs.
In the $2-million Mile Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, O'Brien has two for Susan Magnier: Ad Valorem, ninth in last year's Mile at Belmont Park; and Aussie Rules, winner of the French One Thousand Guineas (Fr-I) and Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) this year.
A third runner for the Mile, Ivan Denisovich, failed to draw into the 14-horse field. The 3-year-old colt will need two defections from the main body of the field prior to next Wednesday's entry time to make the starting gate. O'Brien's other pre-entry is Scorpion in the John Deere Turf (gr. IT).
During a National Thoroughbred Racing Association/Breeders' Cup teleconference, O'Brien assessed his chances in the Mile.
"Ad Valorem is a horse than ran in Canada last time, he was third in the Mile race (Woodbine Mile, Can-I)," O'Brien said. "We're really happy with him. He lost a shoe that day, but he came out of the race really well.
"Aussie Rules won at Keeneland, and we've been really happy with him as well," he said.
Aussie Rules, a 3-year-old son of the late Danehill, out of the Alzao mare, rolled from seventh at the head of the lane at Keeneland to win the Shadwell Turf Mile by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:34.23. The swift gray/roan colt was wearing blinkers for the first time and was ridden for the first time by Garrett Gomez.
"When he went to the front, he would always wait on horses," O'Brien said about the equipment addition. "In the French Guineas, he was on the inside and he got there (to the lead) a little too soon. In the Sussex and Eclipse, he had a challenge while wide. When he gets to the front, he waits on horses. That was the reason for putting visors on him. We wanted him to keep his concentration."
On the year, Aussie Rules has two wins from seven starts. He won the French Guineas at Longchamp in his second start, then finished off the board twice while testing longer distances. Cut back to a mile, he ran fourth twice while facing older opposition in the Sussex Stakes (Eng-I) and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-I) prior to shipping to Kentucky.
"He's a horse with a lot of ability," O'Brien said. "We hope Garrett Gomez will ride him again in the Mile."
Ad Valorem, a 4-year-old by Danzig out of the Relaunch mare Classy Women, has made four starts this year. After a dull sixth-place finish in the Gladness Stakes (Eng-III), Ad Valorem stepped up to win the Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot in June, then ran fifth at Deauville in the Prix Jacques le Marois (Fr-I) Aug. 13 before shipping to Woodbine.
Tenth after a half-mile, he rallied under Patrick Husbands to finish third, 1 ½ lengths behind Becrux and Rebel Rebel.
O'Brien has three Breeders' Cup wins from 35 starters. High Chaparrel won the Turf in 2002, then dead-heated with Johar for the win in the Turf the following year. Johannesburg
won the Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I) in 2001 at Belmont Park.
O'Brien does have six second-place finishes, with two in the Mile: odds-on Rock of Gilbraltar at Arlington in 2002, and 31-1 Antonius Pius in 2003 at Santa Anita.