Led by 20-1 longshot Black Minnaloushe, a trio of Aidan O'Brien trainees filled the top three finishing positions in the Entenmann's Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) on Saturday at the Curragh. Mozart finished second, with 2-1 favorite Minardi third. Tamburlaine, second to Golan in the English equivalent, finished fifth in the 12-horse field.
Declaring the course a "mud pie" after walking a circuit at Newbury on May 18, trainer John Gosden shipped Khalid Abdullah's Observatory to Longchamp for the May 20 Prix d'Ispahan (Fr-I). The change resulted in a group I win for the homebred son of Distant View, ridden by Abdullah's new stable jockey, Richard Hughes. Observatory had been supplemented for 50,000 French francs ($6,722) into the extended nine furlongs during the week but his defection left Newbury's Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I), sponsored by Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, without a marquee horse. Seven turned out for the straight mile with trainer Michael Stoute bagging the British season's first group I for older horses with Cheveley Park Stud's Medicean.
More than 160 meetings have been canceled in Britain due to foot-and-mouth disease -- the tally now is more than 1,400 cases -- or the desperate weather, but the first significant flat meeting of the season took place at Newmarket April 17-19, with the seven-furlong Shadwell Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes (Eng-III) for 3-year-old fillies, and the Macau Jockey Club Craven Stakes (Eng-III) over the straight Rowley Mile for sophomore colts and geldings. Newbury's spring meeting followed immediately with the Lane's End Greenham Stakes (Eng-III) for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the Fred Darling Stakes (Eng-III) for 3-year-old fillies, both over a straight seven furlongs.
With foot-and-mouth disease cases in Britain moving beyond 1,100 and some 170 meetings canceled by the outbreak or the weather this winter, British racing needed some joy. At least there was the Martell Grand National, April 7, and the rescheduled Cheltenham Festival, April 17-19, to look forward to. Then, on April 2, it was announced Cheltenham was off again because of a foot and mouth outbreak nearby, putting the course in a British Horseracing Board-designated exclusion zone.
Captain Steve's owner, Mike Pegram, stood 10 yards away as trainer Bob Baffert issued instructions to Jerry Bailey in the Nad al Sheba walking ring prior to the sixth Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on the evening of March 24. "I let them go to it," he said. "Those guys will be in the Hall of Fame one day (Bailey already is) and I'll be standing outside on the sidewalk. They know what they're doing." Asked the significance of running in his first $6-million race, the world's richest, Pegram reflected for a minute: "I never thought I'd be running for $6 million in my entire career. That's a lot of $10,000 claimers."
Mike Pegram's Captain Steve and Godolphin's Best of the Bests, co-favorites at 7-4 for Saturday's Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) with British bookmaker William Hill, will break from the starting gate alongside each other in post-positions 11 and 10 respectively as a dozen international runners face the starter for the $6 million pot, richest in racing with $3.6 million earmarked for the winner. Also competing in the 1 1/4-mile test is Bobby Frankel-trained Aptitude.
Dubai World Cup officials were quick to douse the fire of rumors Thursday that foot-and-mouth disease had broken out in the Emirates, threatening the running of the March 24 event.
Asked if they had received offers for their champion mare Hollywood Wildcat, Irving Cowan replied they had and, "They just tell them at the barn that she's not for sale." Walking back to the grandstand after Hollywood Wildcat's son, War Chant, had collected a thrilling edition of the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), Marjorie Cowan took her husband's hand and said: "He's got a wife that doesn't believe in selling."
From Europe's 17 Breeders' Cup wins, it isn't surprising to find that seven have come in the Turf (gr. IT) and seven in the Mile (gr. IT).
European horsemen tend to favor cold weather sites for the Breeders' Cup, and particularly Churchill Downs with its long stretch.
The Aga Khan's Kalanisi defeated Montjeu and 13 others to upset the Dubai Champion Stakes at Newmarket, England.
As the European picture takes shape for this year's Breeders' Cup, some potential contenders will be in action this weekend.
Okawango, a son of Kingmambo trained by Criquette Head, won the Grand Criterium at longchamp.
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