As it often does, the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) has produced the morning-line favorite for the the $3-million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) as Aidan O'Brien's Irish raider Soldier of Fortune leads a packed field of 11 at Santa Anita Oct. 25.
Soldier of Fortune, who will break from post 4 with Johnny Murtagh aboard, is the 7-2 early choice in a wide open renewal of the 12-furlong Breeders' Cup Turf, which is second main event on a huge program that features 14 stakes over two days worth $25.5 million.
Owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier, Soldier of Fortune is the only entrant in this year's race to have competed in the 1 1/2-mile Arc. He ran a strong third after leading briefly a quarter-mile from home, finishing third behind the victorious Zarkava by 2 1/2 lengths. It was the first race for the 4-year-old son of Galileo in more than three months and should have set up perfectly for his first attempt on U.S. soil.
Soldier of Fortune won the Coronation Cup (Eng-I) at Epsom in June and is a two-time group I winner in the British Isles. He won the Irish Derby (Ire-I) by nine lengths in 2007.
O'Brien also shipped Red Rock Canyon to Southern California to ensure that his running mate will have a pace target at which to shoot.
Past Breeders' Cup Turf winners Better Talk Now (2004) and Red Rocks (2006) line up in post 1 and 2, respectively.
Bushwood Stables' Better Talk Now, making his fifth consecutive start in the BC Turf, is 10-1 on the morning line. The 9-year-old gelding has been blanked in six tries in 2008, and is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Can-I) on the Woodbine lawn Sept. 7. He ran second to BC Turf rival Grand Couturier in Saratoga's Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) prior to that.
A lifetime winner of 14 races and $4,216,664, the son of Talkin Man makes his 48 start in the BC Turf.
Red Rocks, who runs in the colors of J. Paul Reddam, vanquished superstar Curlin in the Man O' War (gr. IT) by two lengths at Belmont Park July 12 but hasn't raced since due to a hock injury. He returned to training in September for trainer Mark Hennig, who took over conditioning duties in the U.S. from Brian Meehan.
In three U.S. starts, the Irish-bred Red Rocks has two victories and a third, which came in last year's Turf on boggy ground at Monmouth Park.
Three horses are listed at 6-1: the Irish-bred Conduit, the Great Britain-bred Eagle Mountain and Grand Couturier.
Marc Keller's Grand Couturier, who ran sixth in last year's race, carries the best American hope after back-to-back wins in Saratoga's Sword Dancer and Belmont's Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT), which he won by more than 10 lengths on yielding ground. Trainer Robert Ribaudo notes that the 5-year-old son of Grand Lodge won last year's Sword Dancer on firm ground, which he is sure to get at Santa Anita.
Ballymacoll Stud's Conduit makes his first U.S. start for trainer Michael Stoute following a three-length win in Doncaster's St. Leger Stakes (Eng-I) at about 1 3/4 miles Sept. 13. That was his first group I score for the 3-year-old Dalakhani colt.
Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Eagle Mountain won a group III at Newmarket following a one-year layoff Oct. 3. Now trained by South Africa-based Michael de Kock, the 4-year-old was previously in O'Brien's stable.
Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) winner Winchester, Dancing Forever, Out of Control and Spring House, who has a pair of graded wins at the Turf distance over the Santa Anita sod, complete the field. Spring House, owned by R.D. Hubbard and trained by Julio Canani, was put in the Turf rather than the BC Marathon.
Red Giant spiked a fever last week and was declared from the race.
|1.||Better Talk Now||Ramon Dominguez||
H. Graham Motion
Red Rocks (IRE)
Grand Couturier (GB)
Soldier of Fortune(IRE)
Claude R. McGaughey III
Red Rock Canyon (IRE)
Out of Control (BRZ)
Eagle Mountain (GB)
Mike de Kock