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David Hood William Hill

Friday November 3, 2006

Talkin' Breeders' Cup 2006

David Hood has been Director of Public Relations for Britain's William Hill Organization since 1993.

Universally recognized as one of the leading bookmakers in the world, William Hill specializes in legal off-track wagering and operates the fastest growing Internet gambling site in the UK.

During his time at William Hill, David oversaw the launch and development of William Hill TV and has appeared on numerous live/recorded television programs for Sky Sports, The Racing Channel and William Hill TV – CH425, specifically including many special presentations of International race meetings such as the Breeders Cup & Melbourne Cup.

David is also a regular contributor to BBC Ceefax Racing, All Sport magazine, The Daily Express and the Racing Post.

David has agreed to answer your questions about the field of hopefuls in the eight races of Breeders' Cup 2006.

Chicago, IL:
How are you, David? I think C P West has a good chance to run big in the Juvenile. I like the fact that this is his third start and the he will be going from sprint to a route. He should love the added distance. especially in a race that I think is wide open. Your thoughts please.

Hood: This is the most competitive of all the Breeders Cup races this year, but he has already been bet with my company. What he lacks in two-turn experience he makes up for in potential and I think you have to put him in your calculations for a minimum of a place and show.

Seattle, WA:
Thanks Mr. Hood, it's great to get a UK perspective on the horses running from the EU. Of those in the Mile, I am quite intrigued between Araafa and Librettist. Araafa is one and one vs. George Washington, and Librettist has spared Aussie Rules, that similarly defeated a fair group of horses recently in the Shadwell Mile, and has beaten Manduro twice, and has had some lameness issues. How do you see these two, and in comparison to the other EU horses in the Mile including Echo of Light?

Hood: Araafa will the banker bet for most Europeans this year, the colt looks outstanding and had he not crossed swords with George Washington, he would the undisputed champion miler in Europe this year. Librettist disappointed in the QEII at Ascot, and there was controversy from Frankie (Dettori) over 'team tactics' from Coolmore after the race, but he was on a role before that still has to be respected. That said, Frankie could have ridden him and has chosen Echo Of Light which is surprising, as on face value his form is not up to that of Librettist. having seen Araafa in the mornings this week, I think he looks awesome and he is my bet, but I respect the fact that Gorella has improved from 3yrs to 4yrs and poses a big danger for the home team.

Newark, DE:
Congratulations on a very successful career. What horse are you going to put the big bet on, and how much?

Hood: My big bet is a double (I think you call it a parlay) with Bernardini and Henny Hughes, both favourites, but both outstanding chances for me. Of course I can take the UK prices, back home and at 11/10 and 9/4 that makes almost a 6/1 double. Yes please.

Pacheco, TX:
Mr. Hood, re: the FMT, Ouija Board looks better than ever, but I really want to play Mauralakana, Germance and Satwa Queen! Do any of these mares compare favorably to the "no value" Ouija Board?

Hood: Value is relative and Ouija Board is still the Queen they have to de-throne. She is so relaxed this week that its unbelievable. Everyone of her races this year has been in Group One and even in defeat she has been better than all of these. Mauralakana hasn't impressed me in the mornings and I think the cold weather here has taken the edge off her coat, Germance had a bad trip in the QEII cup at Keeneland but both she and Satwa Queen both have solid European Group form and should run close to places, but would still be some pounds below Ouija Board. A bigger threat for the mare is Wait A While and I thought Film maker has looked great this week.

Hurst, TX:
David, are there any horses that were earlier exported to the USA from Europe and succeeded... that you KNOW to be sub-par to the current European invaders? Specifically, I'm thinking of Aragorn, who I may toss. Was Cacique that great in Europe? He'll be 5-1 and he appears to be solid, but maybe he just found weaker turf races in the USA?

Hood: Aragorn was regarded as a real thief in the UK, tremendous ability but couldn't be trusted with the housekeeping money. He may have been hurting though and I think the lasix here in the US has helped his confidence, but I still oppose him with Araafa and Gorella.

Cacique has that tremendous pedigree of Breeders' Cup winners--being the brother to both Banks Hill and Intercontinental. Question is the trip, as a mile and half is uncharted territory for him. That said, Hurricane Run should have won the Arc in Paris but got all sorts of trouble but ran a stinker in the Champion stakes and English Channel is flattered by his Turf Classic win. Scorpion wants further and Red Rocks is solid but not essentially Top Class.

So, it comes down to Hurricane Run, if he can shake off his two recent bad performances and Cacique if he stays.

Bedford, TX:
I'm taking a leap of faith w/ George Washington after watching Giant's Causeway and Sakhee run well. What is the motive behind GW's entry in the Classic as opposed to being a favorite on turf?

Hood: The motivation is money my friend! Gorgeous George has nothing to prove on turf as a miler, and his stud career already beckons; BUT - if he runs big in the Classic, and both Giant's Causeway and Sakhee have proved you can go close, then his stud value will go through the roof.

I think there could be worse leaps of faith to take, but that said I don't want to be with him. He looks to have grown up since the start of the year, and he strolled around Churchill this morning without a care in the world.  But He will undoubtedly get outpaced early on with the speed from Lava Man and company, and couple this with the doubts over stamina and his ability to grab the dirt and there are not enough ticks in the boxes for me.

Euless, TX:
David, I have yet to read anything about THE MILE and the fact that 3 of my better picks are in posts 12,13 and 14. Gorella is solid, we know, but I was also very interested in Librettist and Aussie. Now I'm looking back at Araafa and Sleeping Indian. Am I over-reacting about the post positions?

Hood: Post positions are big issue here over the Turf Mile with such a short run to the first bend. Both Librettist and Aussie Rules have top level form, and I'd leave Gorella in the box, but the posts have to devalue their chances. Araafa is the big white hope for 'Team Europe' and Sleeping Indian is a late maturing type who is improving, but has a bit to find.

My boxed selections would be Araafa, Gorella, Librettist, and Rob Roy who drops back from a mile and quarter.

New York, NY:
David, I think David Junior has a huge shot in the Classic? I know he has not raced on dirt, but he has the pedigree. What are your thoughts on him?

Hood: I don't know about a huge shot, I think we are 'hopeful' more than confident with both the European runners in the Classic, but David Junior does at least have a dirt pedigree of sorts and was bought out of the Calder breeze-up sales, so he trained for at least 6 months on dirt.

I spoke with Jamie Spencer (jockey) this morning and he thought he could run a decent race, but he didn't go overboard about him. Bernardini will be a tough nut to crack.

Baltimore, MD:
Is Hurricane Run better then the rest even if he is off form? Also, what is Rob Roy doing in the Mile? Stoute doesn't send them over unless they have a shot, am I missing something here?

Hood: You're missing nothing! Hurricane Run IS better than the rest, even possibly when below form, but that is still a worry. And Sir Michael Stoute is one of the shrewdest trainers ever to grace this planet.

Don't leave Rob Roy out of your calculations for the mile. His last run over 10 furlongs was terrific, and the winner just got first run on him up the stands rail. Dropping back to a mile won't be a problem, and he'll be a closer in the stretch.

West Union, OH:
What do you think of Wait A While's chances in the Filly and Mare Turf against the Europeans since she runs a turf race like a dirt race in which the Euro's have never seen before?

Hood: Wait a While is a revelation and undoubtedly the biggest threat to Ouija Board, but this will be the first time she has had to tackle three turns, and going a mile and 3/8th is new for her. will her stamina hold out with such aggressive tactics? I have concerns that the bubble will burst.

Otway, OH:
Do you think Dreaming Of Anna is a special horse or was she just beating up on inferior horses compared to what she will meet on Saturday?

Hood: I can't believe how small this filly is; she is a pint-sized pony with a big heart. She is special, no doubt about it, but Saturday is her biggest challenge to date and we'll have to see if she can measure up, especially from the inside box. That has to be a worry and she will have to use her early speed to stay out of trouble. She could be a freak though.

Lexington, KY:
Which Euros have been doing poorly on the softer turf overseas who should relish the firm turf they will likely get at Churchill Downs on Saturday?

Hood: To be honest none of these are especially designated with soft or firm turf preferences. Arguably, Araafa put up his bets performance on an easy surface in the Irish Guineas, but he'll be fine with the slightly quicker going on Saturday.

Louisville, KY:
In the past some of the foreign horses, especially the O'Brien horses, have had troubles breaking from the gate. Do you know if they have been working on this and if it is a concern?

Hood: Good Question. I raised this with O'Brien a couple of years a go after all his runners fell asleep in the gates and the answer is I don't know if they have learned a lesson. I am not aware of any of them having put their horses through the gates here this week, although maybe they have been schooling with e 'bell' at home. The problem, I think, is not the gates are bell, but the fact that the US gate handlers stay IN the gates before they open and the Euro horses look at them, wondering what the hell is going on. If I was riding one, I be saying get the hell outta here!

MODERATOR:
Our thanks to David and the best of luck to all of you.

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