Mott, Brown horses get out of New York; Pletcher's flight delayed

Seventeen Breeders' Cup horses arrived at Santa Anita Park at 9:12 a.m. (PDT) Monday after a cross-country Tex Sutton flight that originated at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York.

Greg Otteson of Tex Sutton said his company changed the starting point for the flight from Long Island to Newburgh, which is located north of New York City, and pushed its departure ahead by eight hours to 1 a.m. (EDT) to avoid the leading winds of Hurricane Sandy.

Trainer Bill Mott's three Breeders' Cup Classic candidates -- Flat Out, Ron the Greek and To Honor and Serve -- and defending Ladies' Classic champion Royal Delta were on the flight. Royal Delta, who was under consideration for the Classic, will now stay within her own division.

Mott said that Royal Delta suffered a minor cut on a thigh while she was being loading onto the plane. He said it was a small laceration, three or four inches above her gaskin, which is between the stifle and the hock.

"She scraped herself boarding the plane and (the veterinarian) closed it up with some sutures," Mott said. "It was a superficial wound."

Mott said that the cut should not jeopardize the champion filly's ability to compete Friday.

"From my standpoint and her standpoint, I don't think it will be an issue," he said. "It's no different than a hockey player getting a little cut on his forehead and getting stitched up. They're athletes."

The other New York-based trainers with horses on the flight were Chad Brown, Shug McGaughey, Michael Hushion, Michael Trombetta and Diane Alvarado. The flight stopped in Louisville, Kentucky, to pick up horses trained by Tom Amoss and continued on to LA/Ontario Airport.

The horses traveled by van from LA/Ontario to Santa Anita Park.

The flight was originally scheduled to leave from McArthur Airport in Islip at 9 a.m., but was switched to the upstate airport as the hurricane moved up the East Coast.

"We just tried to get in there and beat the storm," Otteson said. "Long Island, even as early as Sunday, was unacceptable to fly in and out of there.

"We usually use Islip Airport there and it only has one runway with one heading. So if you get any crosswind it shuts them down pretty much. Newburgh is a much bigger airport with different runway directions. We were able to get out of there."

Otteson said the trip was uneventful.

The other horses who made the trip on Monday were:

Likely Turf favorite Point of Entry, trained by Shug McGaughey; Awesome Feather, Balance the Books, Corporate Jungle, Noble Tune, Watsdachances and Zagora from the Brown barn; the Mike Hushion-trained The Lumber Guy; Mike Trombetta's pair of Next Question and Strike the Moon; Diane Alvarado's Eldaafer); and the Amoss duo, Global Power and Sum of the Parts.

A final Tex Sutton Forwarding charter flight was tentatively scheduled for some time Tuesday with a full load of major contenders based in New York and Kentucky, but has reportedly been canceled and rescheduled for Wednesday.

Trainers with horses booked on this flight from New York include Todd Pletcher (Dreaming of Julia, Kauai Katie, Turbulent Descent, and Shanghai Bobby), Tom Albertrani (Brilliant Speed and Belle of the Hall), Kathy Ritvo (Mucho Macho Man), Tony Dutrow (Grace Hall) and Barclay Tagg (Jersey Town) from New York. The flight will then stop in Louisville to pick up Wise Dan for trainer Charles Lopresti and Fort Larned for trainer Ian Wilkes before proceeding on to Los Angeles.

The undefeated Shanghai Bobby, a top contender in the Juvenile, tweeted the news about his flight status.

"My flight out tomorrow's been canceled," the colt's Twitter account said. "I'll fly out Wednesday instead. We've battened down the hatches. We're safe."

Albertrani, whose Brilliant Speed is scheduled to run in the Classic while Belle of the Hall is pointing to the Filly & Mare Sprint, was keeping a close eye on the weather in New York.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed and obviously monitoring this storm," Albertrani said.

Wind gusts early Monday at Belmont Park were around 45 mph as Hurricane Sandy continued to make its way up the eastern seaboard.

In other Breeders' Cup news:

Janis Whitham's Fort Larned walked at Churchill Downs Monday morning, a day after working five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 2/5 under exercise rider Kate Merritt.

"I changed it up a bit and just walked today," said Wilkes, who usually takes his horses back to the track a day after a work. "Most likely he'll train tomorrow before he leaves, but I am not sure about the plane situation because of the weather in New York."

Morton Fink's Wise Dan, the top U.S. candidate for Saturday's Mile, galloped on the training track at Keeneland Monday morning.

Wise Dan, who will be on the same flight as Fort Larned, is likewise in a holding pattern about his travel schedule.

"I could just keep training him here at Keeneland, but I want to get him out there and get him on the turf one time to look around and school in the paddock," said Lopresti, who initially was going to fly to California Monday.

An early morning phone call to Ballydoyle confirmed that all of the Aidan O'Brien Breeders' Cup entries were on schedule for a 9 p.m. arrival at Los Angeles International airport Monday.

Foremost amongst them is Breeders' Cup Turf defending champion, St Nicholas Abbey, who will again have Joseph O'Brien, the trainer's son, in the saddle. Also in the team is leading Breeders' Cup Mile hope Excelebration, who will be hoping to continue his winning streak having recently won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The rest of the shipment consists of Fame and Glory (Marathon), George Vancouver and Lines of Battle (Juvenile Turf), Infanta Branca (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Treasure Beach (Turf), Up (Filly & Mare Turf) and Starspangledbanner, who rounded off his preparation for the Turf Sprint with a fourth place in a stakes at Dundalk on Friday.

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