Breeders' Cup Notes: Rundown on Horses
(Edited from Breeders' Cup notes team)
John Shirreffs, (Zenyatta, winner, Classic, gr. I, and Life Is Sweet, winner, Ladies’ Classic, gr. I) – "This is as good as it gets," said Shirreffs after a sleepless night from Hollywood Park Sunday, reflecting on his dream weekend and reporting that both females had been shipped back across town to their training base in good order.
"They both ate up and walked this morning," said Shirreffs of the unprecedented double with Breeders' Cup stars that he affectionately calls the queen and princess of his barn.
Zenyatta climaxed one of the most brilliant careers in racing history with a thrilling victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Saturday, becoming the first female to win the coveted race and extending her unbeaten streak to 14.
"She could run again today," said Shirreffs of how little the effort had apparently taken out of the mare.
Shirreffs said that owners Jerry and Ann Moss and jockey Mike Smith accompanied him and his wife, Dottie, to celebrate Zenyatta's historic victory at the Arroyo Chop House restaurant in Pasadena Saturday night.
The $2.7-million first prize nearly doubled her earnings to $5,474,580.
Life Is Sweet also made a mark on the international map with the biggest victory of her career Friday under Garrett Gomez.
"Life Is Sweet is such a talented filly in her own right," said Shirreffs of the filly who had raced in Zenyatta's giant shadow much of the year. Owner-breeders Marty and Pam Wygod will decide whether the filly is kept in training for another year or joins Zenyatta in the broodmare ranks.
Mario Espinoza, the groom for both horses, also recorded a less publicized double.
"You have to have a good supporting cast," said Shirreffs, crediting his barn help headed by Espinoza and exercise rider Steve Willard.
Christophe Clement (Gio Ponti , second, Classic; Rutherienne, seventh, Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf, gr. IT) – Trainer Christophe Clement reported that his Breeders’ Cup starters came out of their races in good order. He was particularly pleased with Gio Ponti’s performance in the Classic, in which he drove to the lead in mid-stretch, only to be caught by the undefeated Zenyatta nearing the finish line.
"It was pretty exciting when he made the move in the stretch. I knew that the mare was nice — obviously she’s great, the way she ran. She’s a great mare," Clement said.
There are no definite plans for Gio Ponti, the country’s most dominant turf performer who took well to the synthetic surface at Santa Anita.
"He’ll have a day or two easy, then we’ll have a plan," Clement said. "We’ll stay here a few days and speak to the owner."
Clement was impressed with Gio Ponti’s demonstration of versatility in handling the track at Santa Anita.
"We always knew he was a very nice horse, but the way he ran yesterday, the way he produced his best form on the Pro-Ride, we have more options," said Clement, who mentioned the Dubai World Cup as a possible goal for next year.
Clement took a moment to look back on Gio Ponti’s breakout year.
"He had a very nice career this year. He won four grade Is and finished second in two other grade Is," he said. "He should look very good for (the Eclipse Award as champion turf horse) and champion older horse, maybe. But I’m just the trainer. I don’t vote."
"We’ll look at him the next couple of days, talk to the owners and see what we’re going to do," Ice said. "We’ll see how he does the next few days, see if he gets back on his feed and make a decision whether we want to go to Japan or give him some time."
Ice will be based at Oaklawn Park again this winter and is planning to move to the New York Racing Association circuit in the spring. He has 35 horses in training.
"I think probably Tuesday morning we’ll head back to New Mexico, turn him out and give him a rest," trainer Chip Woolley said. "We’ll try to give him 60 days, give or take. Just give him a good break and let him decide."
Woolley said the gelding came out of the race without any problems.
"Luckily, he pulled up well, he looks good this morning; he jogged good," Woolley said. "We feel like he’s in pretty good shape. Just a break, a mental break and a physical break."
During his breakthrough season on the national stage, Woolley sent Mine That Bird out to compete against the two female superstars, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, who won the Classic with an electrifying performance.
"They are both great, great, great individuals," he said. "Both of them have done things that are pretty much unprecedented in racing. It’s tough to separate them in a way, but Zenyatta’s race (Saturday), the fans were truly blessed to be here to see the effort she put out and to see a race like that. At the same time, the fans have been blessed all year watching Rachel Alexandra perform, with running with the boys, traveling all over the country and running huge. She’s 8 for 8 on eight different racetracks. She beat the boys three times. She’s done it all — run in the slop and on good racetracks. She did whatever was asked of her. She showed up, she beat the fillies by unprecedented margins; she beat the boys handily most of the time, all but the one trip (Woodward Stakes). It’s been a great year to watch the both of them."
"It was memorable. It’s the type of thing that when I relax a bit over the winter and it sinks in a little bit more, I’ll probably appreciate it even more than I do now," he said. "At the moment, I’m tied up with the details and trivia of trying to make all the transportation arrangements, talking to the owners and worrying about my other 95 horses I’ve got scattered around other places."
Informed Decision put Sheppard in the Santa Anita winner’s circle with a thoroughly dominating performance in Friday’s Filly & Mare Sprint, in which she prevailed over defending champion Ventura.
"I never had a particular nervous moment. She was always in the clear; she was always forwardly placed. The horse on the lead wasn’t one of the main competition, so I was fairly confident, she’d run by that one when she wanted to," Sheppard said.
"It seemed that the fractions weren’t very fast and Ventura was a long way back. I know she has an explosive burst, but I know our horse is very strong in the stretch. I wasn’t counting my chickens before they hatched, but it was a crackerjack ride."
Informed Decision will remain in training for a campaign next season, during which her trainer expects her to continuing at sprinting distances.
Forever Together was unable to defend her title in Friday’s Filly & Mare Turf, in which she finished third behind Midday and Pure Clan.
"She is 90% certain to be retired. We haven’t entirely pulled the plug on her, but I think so," Sheppard said.
Cloudy’s Knight, who was nosed out by Man of Iron in Friday’s Marathon, will continue to race next year at age 10.
"We’re going to keep going with him. He didn’t run all of last season, and he’s only run three times this year," Sheppard said. "He’s sound and just a gelding, so as long as he’s running well and staying sound and healthy, we’ll keep running him."
"The filly left early this morning and she should be getting into Louisville about now," Catalano said. "She looks great and came out of the race good."
The homebred daughter of Offlee Wild will remain with the Kentucky division of the Catalano stable until heading south to Florida for her 2010 campaign. Offered for a $40,000 claiming price in her debut at Arlington Park in May with no takers, She Be Wild finishes her freshman season with a record of four wins from five starts and earnings of $1,311,040 for her owner Nancy Mazzoni.
For Catalano, Friday’s win was his second in as many tries in the Juvenile Fillies, a race he captured with Dreaming of Anna in 2006 at Churchill Downs. While Dreaming of Anna was the $2.60-1 race favorite in 2006, She Be Wild was sent off at odds of $7.40-1 but Catalano was no less confident heading into the 1 1/16m race.
"We looked good coming in and she was training wonderfully," he said. "I knew I had the best horse and I’m really happy how everything came out.
"I know how hard it is to get here in the first place," he continued. "You have to be lucky just to get here, and then even with the best horse you have to get lucky. Look at Godolphin, they went something like 1-for-15 and they came in with ‘Murderers’ Row.’"
"Actually, I was very confident going into the race, and I was touting the horse to anybody who would listen.
"The whole day was fabulous and Zenyatta’s win was the topper. Anytime, a horse can accomplish what she did, you have to take your hat off to her. A was a day for witnessing history."
"A lot of the credit for this win has to go to my owner (Ken Kinakin). He’s such a positive guy. He’s always on the up and thinking good things. I was worried about all his money — he had to put up $160,000 to get in the race for a 25-1 shot. But he asked me if the horse was doing well and if he was ready. And when I said ‘Yes,’ then he said ‘Let’s go for it.’
"This has to be the paramount moment in my time around the races. Losing Nashoba’s Key (the stakes mare who died in a freak racetrack accident in May of 2008) was the lowest point of my life, but this is the highest. Nashoba was a wonderful experience for me; she taught me so much. I’m just so happy to be able to be part of a huge victory like this.
"(Dancing in Silks) is a very fit horse; very sound. He’s just been getting better. He’s a major player now and we’ll take some time to look ahead and see what might be next with him."
Brian Koriner (California Flag, winner, Turf Sprint) — "This is what we’ve been working toward ever since last year, hoping he’d make it back after taking out a chip in his left ankle after his race at Hollywood Park (a win in the Hollywood Turf Express) after the Breeders’ Cup.
"I felt very good after the first quarter of a mile in the race when the others horses took back off of him. At that point, I figured it was his race to lose. I felt good because when he gets away like that, he always kicks in big in the stretch."
Koriner reported that the gelding came out of the race in fine shape and now may head to Hong Kong for his next race, a sprint that Koriner was unable to name.
Jockey Joe Talamo stopped by the barn to look at his winning mount, his first in the Breeders’ Cup, and said of the experience: "It made me feel just terrific. It was a lot of fun. A big party of us went to dinner last night, and I was happy to pick up the check."
The 19-year-old rider said he was a filet mignon man, but when asked about a red wine, he said, "Hey, I’m not old enough to drink yet."
Tapitsfly was scheduled to arrive back at the Romans barn in Kentucky Sunday.
"With Zensational, he didn’t break and never got into it. We had to call an audible there and it didn’t work out. It just wasn’t his day. With Lookin At Lucky, that one really hurt. I really wanted that race and I thought I was going it win it. He’s a really good horse and I didn’t need that race to tell me that. I knew it going it. It hurt, but what are you going to do.
"In the case of Richard’s Kid, he didn’t run as well as I thought he would. The jock (Alex Solis) said there was some bumping at the two and a half (five-sixteenths pole) and then he never got into gear after that. But I changed sides at the eighth-pole and started rooting for Zenyatta.
Todd Pletcher (Aikenite , fifth, Juvenile; Cowboy Cal , 10 th Mile, gr. IT; Eskendereya , ninth, Juvenile Turf; Game Face, ninth, Filly & Mare Sprint;Interactif, third, Juvenile Turf; Join in the Dance, ninth, Sprint; Nite Light, eighth, Marathon; Quality Road , scratched at gate, Classic; Ready's Echo, second, Dirt Mile, gr. I; Rose Catherine, second, Juvenile Fillies Turf) — Pletcher said all of his horses came out of their races well. Quality Road, who acted up at the gate prior to the Classic and was scratched, was not seriously injured.
"Amazing. Amazing. She’s as good as it gets. And the way the grandstand erupted, I couldn’t believe it. Everyone was cheering. Nobody wanted to leave. She made us feel good. She made us all feel good. It’s got to be the greatest moment in Breeders’ Cup history."
"(Quality Road's) a bit scratched up, but he’s okay," Pletcher said. "There are some gashes on his hind legs mainly from kicking. But it’s nothing too severe."
Pletcher was at his barn Sunday morning. Five of his Breeders’ Cup horses will stay in California at Santa Anita with assistant trainer Mike McCarthy. The others will be shipped this week.
Aikenite is headed to the Palm Meadows training center on Wednesday and will be pointed to the Gulfstream meet, which gets underway in early January.
Cowboy Cal will remain at Santa Anita and may run in the Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park on Friday, Nov. 27.
Devil May Care will ship to Palm Meadows on Wednesday and point for a race at Gulfstream Park.
Eskendereya will remain at Santa Anita and may be pointed to the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 19.
Game Face is being retired and will be shipped to Kentucky.
Interactif will ship to Palm Meadows on Wednesday and will be pointed to a race in Florida.
Join in the Dance will remain at Santa Anita and will probably make his next start in an allowance race.
Nite Light will ship back to Pletcher’s barn at Belmont Park in New York this week and be pointed toward the Gallant Fox at Aqueduct.
Quality Road will go to Belmont Park and point for the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Nov. 28.
Ready’s Echo will remain at Santa Anita and be pointed toward the races in the Santa Anita Handicap series.
Rose Catherine will remain at Santa Anita and point toward the Hollywood Starlet at Hollywood on Dec. 20.
"Whatsthescript seemed to get burned up on the pace. That didn’t work out too well. Cost of Freedom ran great. We had high hopes for him and he lived up to them. Right up to the finish I thought he might win it. We’re proud of him. Now we’re going to get him ready for Dubai. He showed he belongs.
"Noble Court broke slowly and just never got up into the race. Get Funky lived to race another day. Evita Argentina will be back next year. She’s only three and I think she’ll be a real runner at 4.
"They’ll all be back to race some more. We’ll take our time bringing them back. I’d say we’d probably see them again at the big Santa Anita meeting (opening Dec. 26)."
Godolphin’s nine U.S.-based Breeders’ Cup runners emerged from their races in good shape.
"All of them scoped clean," said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "Girolamo had a little scrape on the back of his knee that likely happened with all that commotion that was going on at the starting gate. It seems to be a superficial scrape. He came out of the race face. That was the only thing from a physical standpoint that showed up on any one of them.
Mettee said the nine will be shipped out of California this week.
Cocoa Beach, sixth in the Ladies’ Classic, is being retired and will be sent to Darley in Kentucky.
"She trained very well after Saratoga," Mettee said. "She trained as well as she did last year. We thought she’d go forward off the Lady’s Secret. We were expecting a good race from her, but obviously she didn’t come back as good a filly for whatever reason. It’s surprising because she really trained well here the last couple of weeks. But that was kind of a crazy race with the pace scenario. The whole dynamics of the race changed with the second and third quarter they ran."
Mettee said that the plans for Gayego have not been finalized. It’s possible that he could be sent to Dubai to compete in the Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup day. Gayego was part of a four-way photo finish in the Sprint.
"Gayego ran his race. He ran a very good race," Metee said. "It was a fast race. What did he get beat, two necks (nose, head, nose)? He ran his race."
The plans for Girolamo have not been finalized.
Midshipman finished third in the Dirt Mile, beaten three-quarters of a length and a head. It was the colt’s second start of the year after winning the 2-year-old championship.
"He ran a great race," Metee said. "I think that race was there to be won. He was traveling well turning for home. I thought he was a winner. I really think if we had another race into him I don’t think he would have lost."
Mettee said that plans have not been finalized for the colt but since Midshipman has form on synthetic surfaces he might be sent back to Dubai for the winter season.
Music Note is being retired to Darley in Kentucky off her third-place finish in the Ladies’ Classic.
"At the end of the day, she’s won five Grade Is and was third in this race two years in a row," Mettee said. "It’s a pretty nice resume to fall back on."
Pyro never was able to mount a late run and finished last of 10 in the Sprint.
"He came out of the race good," Mettee said. "There is a chance he could be shipped back to New York and run as an entry with Vineyard Haven in the Cigar Mile.
"He seemed to do awful well out here physically. Obviously, he didn’t go well over the synthetic. We were hoping that he was a better horse this year and fresher and would run well. He didn’t. Hopefully the race didn’t take much out of him."
Mettee said he did not what plans have been made for Pyro.
Regal Ransom carried the Classic field through some sharp early quarters before finishing eighth.
"Regal Ransom probably ran his race," Mettee said. "With his tactical speed there’s a lot of races to win with him. The Breeders’ Cup Classic on synthetic wasn’t one of them probably. He probably ran to the best of his ability. I think there are good races for him to win down the line. I don’t know what he’ll be doing over the winter.
Sara Louise, who was fourth in the Filly & Mare Sprint, is headed Kentucky for a winter break. Mettee said he expects she will compete again next year.
Seventh Street, eighth in the Filly & Mare Sprint, is being retired and will be shipped to Darley in Kentucky.
Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer (Chocolate Candy, eighth, Dirt Mile; Blind Luck, third, Juvenile Fillies) – "Chocolate Candy came back in good shape; didn’t run a whole lot. He probably will get some time off, and then probably look for some easy spot next year to help him get his confidence back."
On Blind Luck, Ward said, "The filly came back perfect. We were very happy with her performance. She got bumped around a bit early in the race but she fought through it. She was wide coming into the stretch and probably lost as much ground as she was beaten by.
"She may go next in the Starlet (Stakes) at Hollywood Park, but, for sure, we’ll be mapping out a campaign for that we hope will put her in the Kentucky Oaks next year."
Hollendorfer is no stranger to the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, having won the race for 3-year-old fillies twice with Lite Light in 1991 and Pike Place Dancer in 1996.
"Afterwards the owner (B. Wayne Hughes of Spendthrift Farm) and the farm manager gave me a hard time. They told me they were going to take him home and turn him into a breeder. I said ‘No way!’ I told them if anyone came by the barn to take that horse I’d shoot ‘em.
"He’s only a 3-year-old and he’s yet to show how good he really is. They took Mr. Hughes’ young horse Into Mischief away from me last year when he’d just run in the Malibu and put him out to stud. And I didn’t want them doing something like that again. So I slapped my hand on their table and said you can’t have him and they just laughed. They were having some fun with me, and I’m going to keep him and try to do some more good.
"Lord Shanakill is likely headed off to stud. I don’t know that for a fact and I’m not saying it is true, but it sounded like it was going that way. And I’m not sure if he’d be going to Kentucky or back over to Europe. I guess that’s to be decided.
"And how about Zenyatta? Isn’t she something? What a wonderful, wonderful thing she is for racing. We had a very good day of racing here before her. But her big finish took it from very good to great. She is so special. And I want to salute (trainer) John Shirreffs for the training he did. We might have seen one of the great training jobs of all time there. I take off my cap to him. John and I have our differences over the politics of synthetic tracks (Mandella in favor, Shirreffs against), but when it comes to horsemanship, I’m with him all the way. He is very, very good at what he does and he did an exceptional job with that mare. She’s a good thing for racing and he is to be saluted for what he did.
"I’m also proud of how our racing turned out here. I’m on the board (of the Oak Tree Racing Association), of course, so you’ve got to excuse me for bragging, but I’m very happy with the way the racing was presented this year and last. We had two safe days of racing again this year and that is something to be proud of. When horses come home safe, that’s a good thing for racing."
"No decision has been made yet (by owner Lewis Lakin), but she may run again next year."
Pure Clan was scheduled to arrive back at Holthus’ barn Sunday about 1 p.m.
"We’re proud of all of them the way they ran," said McPeek. "I’d sure love to win one of those trophies for my mantle, but it’ll come if they keep racing like that."
Beautician closed well to finish second in Friday’s Juvenile Fillies, just 3/4 of a length behind winner She Be Wild.
"She lost a hind shoe either at the gate or during the race. I’m not sure how that affected her, but she’s a lovely filly," McPeek said. "In the short term, we’re looking at the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs; in the long term, the Kentucky Oaks, of course."
Bridgetown set a pressured pace in Saturday’s Juvenile Turf and held gamely to finish second, just 3/4 of a length behind favored Pounced.
"He had no major excuses, but he ran a real respectable race," McPeek said. "In the long term, we’re looking at the St. James at Royal Ascot next June."
Garrett O'Rourke, Juddmonte racing manager, offered more details on the trio's future. "At the moment, we're discussing what to do with them all, whether one might run in the Matriarch (at Hollywood Park Nov. 28), but no concrete decision yet," said O'Rourke.
"Proviso will definitely stay in training next year," said O'Rourke of the French import who ran creditably in her second United States start despite being steadied on the first turn. "She will probably get a little breather. She definitely likes the main track and is already proven on grass.
"Ventura will definitely be bred next year," added O'Rourke of the multiple stakes-winning 5yo mare. "Whether or not she runs in the Matriarch first will be decided in the next couple of days.
"Visit we're still not sure about," continued O'Rourke.
Frankel, who ranks second in Breeders' Cup earnings among trainers, picked up another $420,000 to lift his total to $13,242,050. D. Wayne Lukas leads with $19,645,520.
The well-traveled 4yo gelding was shipped to the Royal Ascot meet in England in June, finishing second in the Group 1 Jubilee Stakes.
"After Hong Kong, he will go to Australia to run in the Coolmore Lightning Stakes on Jan. 30," added Ward. "Then it will be back to Royal Ascot next year."
Ward said that Becky's Kitten will be shipped to Florida and pointed to the Tropical Park Derby at Calder on Jan. 1.
The chestnut, who won three straight Grade I turf stakes in Southern California before the Breeders' Cup, missed third by a nose and a neck in a three-way photo in the Filly & Mare turf and will enter the sale with earnings of $1,099,231.
A substantial number of the highly successful European-trained team of stars that won six of the 14 Breeders’ Cup Championships races on Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita were scheduled to be flown back across the Atlantic Sunday, including most of the Coolmore-owned runners trained by Aidan O’Brien on a flight to Ireland at approximately 1:30 p.m.
That Coolmore contingent includes Rip Van Winkle (10th, Classic), Mastercraftsman (fourth, Dirt Mile), Beethoven (6th, Juvenile), Alfred Nobel(10th, Juvenile) and Viscount Nelson (eighth, Juvenile Turf). No immediate plans have been revealed for this group.
According to International Racing Bureau sources, Lillie Langtry, beaten favorite when eighth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, will remain on for a week to undergo knee surgery before returning to O’Brien and Ireland in about a week.
The Coolmore team’s weekend got off to a good start on Friday with Man of Iron posting a mild upset at 6-1 by a nose in the Marathon under jockey John Murtagh. The son of Giant's Causeway had been sold privately to Mideast connections prior to the race, although racing for Coolmore in the Marathon. Plans call for him to be flown to England on the Breeders’ Cup charter to Stanstead Airport in England leaving Sunday evening. He will go to trainer Luca Cumani in Newmarket and be pointed to races in Dubai early next year.
The English charter leaving Sunday evening will also be carrying Henry Cecil’s pair of Juddmonte Farm’s 3-year-old filly Midday, winner of the Filly & Mare Turf on Friday, and Twice Over, third to Zenyatta in Saturday’s Classic. Juddmonte owner Prince Khalid Abdullah indicated after Midday’s victory Friday that she would remain in training next year. Twice Over is nominated for a race in Hong Kong in December.
Also on the English charter Sunday evening will be trainer Sir Michael Stoute’s threesome of Ballymacoll Stud’s Conduit, repeat winner of the Turf on Saturday, and Juddmonte’s Spanish Moon, fourth in the Turf, and Juddmonte’s Zacinto, last of 11 in the Mile.
Conduit will have one more start this year for Stoute as he closes out his career in the Japan Cup later this month before going to stud next year in Japan.
The precious cargo on the English flight also includes trainer John Gosden’s duo of Juvenile Turf winner Pounced and filly Dar Re Mi, a game third in the Turf behind Conduit, beaten less than two lengths for it all. Gosden also brought over Augustin Stable’s filly Rainbow View, fifth in the Ladies’ Classic, but she will remain in the U.S. to be trained by Jonathan Sheppard.
Trainer Freddie Head’s French-trained pair of filly Goldikova, repeat winner of the Mile, and filly Only Green, fifth in the Filly & Mare Sprint on Friday, left Sunday morning for home on a KLM flight to Amsterdam. Also on that flight was Red Rocks, winner of the 2006 Turf at Churchill Downs and fifth in Saturday’s edition behind Conduit. He will be going back to England and take up stud next year.
The five Godolphin runners that shipped over from England for trainer Saeed bin Suroor will be flying back to England on a private charter Tuesday and then right on to Dubai for the winter. That group includes Vale of York (winner, Juvenile), Mastery (third, Marathon), Buzzword (fifth, Juvenile Turf), Delegator (fifth, Mile) and Gladiatorus (ninth, Mile).
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