Khalid Abdullah's Workforce, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) and Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner, was made the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). The 1 1/2-mile race, which is currently evenly matched with foreign and North American-based runners, is worth $3 million and will be run Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
Workforce, an English homebred son of King's Best—Soviet Moon, by Sadler's Wells, will be ridden by Ryan Moore. If he does in fact contend in the Turf, Workforce will face seven rivals, including fellow European invader Behkabad, the 9-5 second choice.
Following Workforce's initial encounter with Churchill's turf course the morning of Nov. 2, Stuart Messenger, assistant to trainer Michael Stoute, said the surface was extremely firm and was not to the bay colt's liking. A decision will be made Nov. 5 as to whether Workforce will actually go postward in the race.
Workforce, who has won or placed in four of his five lifetime starts, has amassed earnings of $4,361,563.
Behkabad, who is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget for The Aga Khan, won three group races in France this year, including the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I). Like Workforce, the Turf will mark his first start on United States soil. The millionaire son of Cape Cross—Behkara, by Kris will break from post 7.
Al Khali, a 10-1 shot on the morning line, drew the 5 post in the Turf. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro is trained by Bill Mott for Brous Stable and Watchel Stable. "I’m in the middle, so I’m fine," Mott said. "I don’t think any post in that race would have been too bad since it's only an eight-horse field. It’s a short run to the first turn, but the five hole should be fine."
Even with the impressive resumes of several overseas-based runners in the Turf, Mott said he isn't worried about Al Khali's chances for a win.
"We’re not intimidated by the other seven," Mott said. "He’s been training fine; he’s doing great. I heard a rumor that Workforce may not run if there’s firm ground. It is what it is...(the ground) has got some give in it, I think."
Al Khali, who holds a career record of 6-2-2 from 18 starts, won the Sept. 11 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park, as well as the 2009 Saranac Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga. He enters the Turf off a fourth-place effort in the Canadian International (Can-IT) at Woodbine.
Richard Mandella trainee Champ Pegasus drew the inside post for the Turf. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus looks to be a major factor in the race with impressive victories in his last two straight starts—the Aug. 29 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) and the Oct. 3 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Stakes (gr. IT).
“He couldn’t be training any better; he looks great,” said Richard Mandella, who conditions Champ Pegasus for Gerald Ford’s Versailles, Ky.-based Diamond A Racing and Argentine-born Arturo Vargas. “I’m not sure what the fields are that we’ve beat here in California, but he’s done it like a good horse. We’re looking at the (Prix de l ‘Arc de Triompe) winner (Workforce), and several other graded stakes winners, and it’s a tough race. Whether (Champ Pegasus) is good enough to beat this field, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Champ Pegasus, who worked five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 over Hollywood Park’s turf Oct. 31, boasts an overall record of 4-2-1 fromn eight starts and earnings of $358,520. He will be ridden in the Turf by Joel Rosario.
Telling, who is looking to redeem his dismal seventh-place effort in last year's Turf, has calmed down considerably personality-wise since the 2009 running of the race, according to trainer Steve Hobby.
"He’s training super; couldn’t be better," said Hobby of Telling, who will break from post 3 under jockey Javier Castellano. "I’m feeling good about it; it should be firm turf which is really important to him. Maybe the Europeans won’t like it as much. I doubt it, but you never know.
"The hard thing is I just don’t have any idea as to how to gauge (the European horses)," Hobby continued. "I think Telling matches with the American horses. It’s just going to be what the Europeans come up with…I know they’re good horses, but it is a little bit different here, tighter turns, and a firmer course."
Rounding out the field are this year's Arlington Million Stakes (gr. IT) winner Debussy; Dubai Duty Free Arc Trail (Eng-I) victor Dangerous Midge; and Winchester, a two-time grade I victor at Belmont Park this year who enters the Turf off a score in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT).
|Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I)|
|1.||Champ Pegasus||Joel Rosario||Richard E. Mandella||10-1|
|2.||Winchester||Cornelio H. Velasquez||Christophe Clement||8-1|
|3.||Telling||Javier Castellano||Steve Hobby||20-1|
|4.||Debussy||William Buick||John H.M. Gosden||10-1|
|5.||Al Khali||Julien Leparoux||William I. Mott||10-1|
|6.||Workforce||Ryan Moore||Sir Michael R. Stoute||7-5|
|7.||Behkabad||Christophe Lemaire||Jean-Claude Rouget||9-5|
|8.||Dangerous Midge||Frankie Dettori||Brian Meehan||12-1|