Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was asked Thursday if he knew the words to the Urugauain national anthem and he smiled but said, "No."
Two days before the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Doug O'Neill, trainer of Lava Man, Sharp Lisa, and Great Hunter; and Tom Albertrani, trainer of Bernardini and Balletto, discussed the chances of their stars leading up to their respective races.
Bernardini, leading candidate for Horse of the Year honors, drew the three post position and was installed as the even-money favorite for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic -- Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
With the horses of racing age program implemented this year, owners had a different option for landing their non-nominated horses in the 2006 Breeders' Cup World Championships, and a few took full advantage.
Lava Man, a leading contender for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), and Great Hunter, winner of Keeneland's Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) and a major contender for the Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I), led the Doug O'Neill contingent that arrived at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
It's not Ali/Frazier but the Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 4 in Louisville, Ky., the hometown of former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, is being billed as a showdown between Bernardini and Lava Man.
STD Racing and Jason Wood's Lava Man, gearing up for a showdown with Bernardini in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, worked six furlongs in 1:15 over Keeneland's Polytrack on Friday, Oct. 27.
Darley Stable's Bernardini turned in a bullet five-furlong breeze in 1:02 2/5 at Belmont Park Wednesday, much to the satisfaction of trainer Tom Albertrani. His main rival for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Presented by Dodge (gr. I) will be Lava Man, whose trainer, Doug O'Neill, paid tribute to Bernardini.
After shipping into Kentucky Oct. 10, the California-based Lava Man is adjusting well to his new surroundings at Keeneland Race Course as he preps for the $5- million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. According to trainer Doug O'Neill, the 5-year-old gelding settled in without a problem and is galloping daily over Keeneland's new Polytrack synthetic surface.
It is safe to say there has never been more major stakes run and more major stars performing around the country than there were this past weekend. In the end, most of the Breeders' Cup World Championship races were clearly defined, but there was something missing in the aftermath of one of the races.
California-based Lava Man is scheduled to leave Tuesday for Keeneland Racecourse to prepare for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 and a possible showdown for Horse of the Year honors against likely favorite Bernardini.
Odds-on choice Lava Man proved once again he's the class of the West Coast by winning his seventh straight race of the year with another convincing turn in Saturday's $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.
Lava Man, the $50,000 claim whose extraordinary string of six stakes victories this year has netted $2,470,000, headlines Oak Tree's $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Saturday.
Breeders' Cup officials have confirmed that Lava Man, the 5-year-old gelding who is the top contender for the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) has been nominated to the Breeders' Cup program as a horse of racing age.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association's "Emirates Airline Countdown to the Breeders' Cup" presents six live races Oct. 7 on ESPN2. Highlighting the show are the final Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) tune-up races for Bernardini and Lava Man. They are expected to meet in the $5 million Classic Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
History-making Lava Man returns to action in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Oct. 7 during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita Park, where he will face a field that includes Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) hero Brother Derek.
Until recently, Lava Man was an equine Rodney Dangerfield – he could win big races and big money, but not respect. Amazing what four grade I wins can do.
Unless something drastic occurs between now and Nov. 4, it looks as if Bernardini, Invasor, and Lava Man, barring injury, will be the top guns, although one of those three - Bernardini or Invasor- will taste defeat in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I).
Lava Man, the 5-year-old son of Slew City Slew on Saturday added the trophy from the Pacific Classic -- which began in 1991 -- to his victories in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 8 and the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 4.
In an unusual move, the chairman of the California Horse Racing Board has issued a statement defending the credibility of the state's drug-testing mechanism and praising the efforts of Lava Man in Sunday's Pacific Classic (gr. I).
For Lava Man, it's time to go with the flow. A victory in the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) Sunday at 1 1/4 miles will make Lava Man the first horse to sweep Southern California's "Big Three" grade I handicaps in the same year.
Lava Man, unbeaten in five races this year, including victories in the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup (both gr. I), has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in Sunday's 16th running of the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar.
Lava Man has already become the first horse to win back-to-back Hollywood Gold Cups (gr. I) since Native Diver won three straight from 1965-67. He's already become the first horse since Affirmed in 1979 to win the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and Hollywood Gold Cup in the same year.
Lava Man and Super Frolic, first and third in July 8's Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) finished their work for Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) with solid six-furlong drills Sunday morning over Del Mar's main track.
Eleven horses have been nominated to Del Mar's $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 20. Lava Man, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) for trainer Doug O'Neill, is the probable favorite.
Lava Man, a former claiming horse, became the first runner since Native Diver in 1967 to win back-to-back editions of the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) when he won a heart-pounding finish by a nose Saturday over the longest shot in the field, Ace Blue.
Seek Gold, 91-1 upset winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) in his last start, arrived at Hollywood Park from Louisville on Wednesday afternoon with a new giant to slay – Lava Man in Saturday's Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I).
Dynamic California-bred Lava Man, on a four-race winning streak, was assigned 124 pounds for Saturday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). But after everything the 5-year-old gelding has accomplished this year, that probably wasn't enough -- just four rivals are signed on to challenge him.
Seek Gold, upset winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 17, turned in a sparkling five furlong work on Sunday at Churchill Downs in preparation for an expected start in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 8. Likely favorite Lava Man was assigned 124 pounds for the 1 1/4-mile event.
Trainer Doug O'Neill keeps throwing bigger challenges at the multi-dimensional Lava Man, but nothing seems to faze the 5-year-old California-bred gelding. Winner of both the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in the last 11 months, Lava Man led gate to wire to register his first grade I win on the turf in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Lava Man, the 2005 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner who is unbeaten in three starts this year, will meet defending champion Sweet Return in Saturday's $300,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park.
Lava Man's return to grass was such a smashing success with a Hollywood Park course-record effort in the $150,000 TVG Khaled Stakes on Sunday that the 5-year-old horse may remain on turf for his next start, trainer Doug O'Neill said Wednesday.
After winning million-dollar races in his last two starts, Lava Man successfully took on another challenge Sunday, shifting to turf and winning the $150,000 TVG Khaled Stakes at Hollywood Park in course record time of 1:44.26 for nine furlongs.
Lava Man and Moscow Burning, the two most recent horses of the year in the Golden State, are among a deep cast of state-breds competing in the Cal National Gold Rush on Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man is expected to be among the starters for trainer Doug O'Neill on the Cal National Gold Rush program April 30 at Hollywood Park.
California-bred Lava Man, ridden with extreme confidence by Corey Nakatani, shook loose of favored High Limit on the far turn and defeated upset-minded Magnum to win the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in a spectacular effort in front of nearly 50,000 fans Saturday.
HorseRacing TV will offer viewers a pair of important Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) prep races Saturday, along with the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in a March 4 coast-to-coast telecast.
Trainer Bobby Frankel sends out Strub Stakes (gr. II) winner High Limit as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I).
Multiple grade I winner Borrego, who missed a recent workout while attempting to make the March 4 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) without benefit of a prep race for trainer Beau Greely, has not been withdrawn from consideration for the race.
Lava Man was named the 2005 California-bred Horse of the Year in voting by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, it was announced at the CTBA's annual awards dinner Feb. 7.
The grade I winner Lava Man flashed his former brilliance with a sweeping 2 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic to conclude the rich program for California and Florida-bred horses at Santa Anita Park Saturday.
Santa Anita's $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, centerpiece of Saturday's $3.6 million festival for California and Florida-bred horses, will offer several of the dozen runners entered an opportunity to regain past brilliance.
Afleet Alex's dramatic win in the 2005 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), in which he overcame bumping incident at the top of the Pimlico stretch, has been voted the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's "Moment of the Year."
Nominations to the Sunshine Millions, an eight-race series that will be televised nationally Jan. 28, have closed with a total of 333 names submitted.
Heavily favored Japanese-bred Kane Hekili emerged from a three-horse, head-bobbing finish to narrowly win the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) over American-breds Seeking the Dia and Star King Man at Tokyo Race Course Saturday.
Though Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact is sitting this one out, Sunday's 25th running of the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) boasts two Breeders' Cup winners, one winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere (Fr-I), a two-time Vodafone Coronation Cup (Eng-I) winner, and the two previous winners of the Japan Cup.
TVG will become the first American TV network to present live, on-site coverage of horseracing from Japan when it telecasts that country's two most important international racing events – the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) and the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) on Nov. 25 and 26, respectively.
Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr. I) winner Lava Man, who will try to give trainer Doug O'Neill his second victory in three years in the Japan Cup Dirt, worked six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 at Hollywood Park Saturday morning and is set to head to Japan on Tuesday.
Stevie Wonderboy, winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, will be back on the Hollywood Park track next week, trainer Doug O'Neill said Friday.
- By Steve Haskin
With Saint Liam pretty much established as the early favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), a competitive field of eight will line up for Saturday's $1-million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) to determine who will pose the most serious challenge to the Woodward (gr. I) and Stephen Foster (gr. I) winner.
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