Irish Trainer O'Brien Talks Breeders' Cup
by Mark Popham
Date Posted: 10/17/2007 5:21:47 PM
Last Updated: 10/18/2007 10:44:09 AM
Anne M. Eberhardt
British bookmakers make two of champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup entries favorite for their respective races. Dylan Thomas, recent winner of the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I), varies between 6/4 and 4/5 for the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), while Excellent Art can be backed at 7/2 down to 5/2 for the Netjets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I).
O’Brien, speaking Oct. 17, said his Breeders’ Cup horses would probably travel from Ireland Oct. 23.
Referring to Dylan Thomas, he declared: "Dylan Thomas is a very unique horse. He has run every month since the start of the season (April), with seven of the eight races being group Is.
"I think he has won six group Is and he has been beaten in a few where he was a little bit unlucky. He is by Danehill - the last of them - and has stamina and speed. He is a very special horse, with a beautiful constitution, is very tough, and stays very well.
"Dylan Thomas does not lose much weight in his races. He is one of these horses that the harder they work, the better they seem to come out of their races. He has improved all the time.
"He has obviously not done much since winning the Arc. We would be very happy with the bits he has done."
O’Brien dismissed that idea that Dylan Thomas hangs left or right in his races.
"I don’t think he has a tendency to hang. He is a big, strong, long-striding, powerful horse, and when he gets out there (in front) he gets a little bit lonely.
"I don’t think he will remain in training next year. He is probably the best Danehill we have ever had. The distances he has run over, his toughness, and his resolution mean that you could really see him turn out (European) classic horses over a mile, 10 furlongs, and 12 furlongs. We could not forgive ourselves if anything happened to him.
"My Breeders’ Cup horses will have done all their work before traveling to America. They might have a canter the morning before."
Dylan Thomas is one of 12 entries for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, with the other Europeans being defending champion Red Rocks, trained by Brian Meehan for J. Paul Reddam, and the only French raider for any of the races, Champ Elysees, who is trained by Andre Fabre for Juddmonte Farms.
Turning to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Excellent Art is the O’Brien runner, with George Washington set to go instead for the Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Said O’Brien: "Excellent Art has been unlucky in a few races this year. He is very tough, has plenty of speed and is strong at the end of his races.
"At Goodwood (in the BGC Sussex Stakes, Eng-I) he was just a bit further back than Jamie (Spencer, his rider) would have wanted. Then in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot he just got trapped behind a few horses and had to wait until a gap came, but it was too late - the other horse (the winner, Ramonti) was gone but he was closing all the way to the line. We think he is an exceptional horse."
George Washington ran in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year when sixth to Invasor, beaten seven lengths.
O’Brien explained that run came at the end of a long, hard season, while this year the horse has only appeared three times.
The trainer remarked: "I am very happy with him. He has had three kind of easy races in 2007, and the last race (Qatar Prix de Moulin de Longchamp, Fr-I) was the easiest of them all.
"He is a very fresh horse. Last year, come Breeders’ Cup time, he had had a long and tough season and was probably a little bit washed up.
"This season has been easy for him, and he ran a good race in the Classic last year. Going into that race, people said you needed a mile-and-a-half horse for the Classic at Churchill Downs.
"At Monmouth Park, people say you need a fast horse to win. So we are hoping. Last year Mick (Kinane) said he got a little bump or shove in the straight and he might have been placed but for that.
"One of his greatest strengths, no matter how fast they go in races, is that he travels well."
George Washington is likely to try to resume his stud career next year.
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