Trainer O'Brien Ready with Two 'Turf' Stars
O'Brien said he was pleased with the duo's efforts and is eager for another chance at the Turf, a race he has won three times, including last year with St Nicholas Abbey.
"St Nicholas Abbey just cantered around, and he seemed very happy," said O'Brien. "We think Treasure Beach has progressed well since his last race, and the fast ground will suit him."
Smith owns St Nicholas Abbey in partnership with Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier. Magnier's husband, John, is the managing partner of the extensive Coolmore Stud operation. The three have a fourth partner, Mrs. Fitriani Hay, in Treasure Beach.
"St Nicholas Abbey has the better chance and is our number one for the race," said Smith, "but Treasure Beach is in good order."
O'Brien's son, Joseph, rode St Nicholas Abbey to a 2 1/4-length victory in last year's Turf at Churchill Downs. A victory by either horse would give Aidan a record-tying fourth win in the race. Sir Michael Stoute won with Conduit in 2008-09, Kalanisi in 2000, and Pilsudski in 1996. O'Brien's first Turf victories came with High Chaparral in 2002-03.
Following the 2012 Breeders' Cup, St Nicholas Abbey traveled to Dubai, where he finished second by just a neck in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I). Since then, he won the Investec Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup (Eng-I) and placed in four other group stakes before running 11th in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I).
"In the Arc de Triomphe, he ran on ground that he didn't like," said Smith. "We kind of always knew he was a better-ground horse, but that brought it home to us. The ground here suits him very well, and he's done very well since that race. Aidan's extremely happy with him—he couldn't be happier. So we're going there with high hopes."
St Nicholas Abbey is a 5-year-old son of Montjeu—Leaping Water, by Sure Blade. Treasure Beach is a year younger and a son of Galileo—Honorine, by Mark of Esteem. O'Brien trained Galileo, the European champion 3-year-old of 2001, a Coolmore stallion, and the sire of English undefeated sensation Frankel.
"Treasure Beach has his chance," said Smith. "He's in good form. He'll like the ground. He deserves his chance in the race."
Despite all of the other big international races, O'Brien puts the Breeders' Cup right at the top.
"Breeders' Cup is kind of the Olympics of racing worldwide, isn't it?" he said.
The Smith, Tabor, and Magnier partnership have had numerous successes around the globe. But Smith was humble when talking about the possibility of winning a second Turf with St Nicholas Abbey.
"To win one Breeders' Cup race is unbelievable," he said. "To win two, we'd be ecstatic. It would be very special to win consecutive races."
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