Ciaran Dunne of Wavertree Stables is no stranger to Breeders' Cup success.
The leading juvenile consignor for two straight years, Dunne was well represented in the 2012 Breeders' Cup. Wavertree graduates included Hightail , winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint; He's Had Enough , second in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), and Summer of Fun, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I).
Dunne will be at Santa Anita Park to root on another strong group of Wavertree 2-year-olds-in-training graduates slated to contest this year's juvenile events. Diamond Bachelor, Mexikoma, and Rum Point are expected to start in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 2 and Ontology is pre-entered in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) a day earlier.
Diamond Bachelor sold for $570,000 to trainer Patrick Biancone at the Barretts March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training. The son of War Front out of the stakes-placed Pulpit mare Seasoned had a history of selling well in the auction ring. He first went to J.W. Greathouse, agent, for $100,000 as a weanling at the 2011 Keeneland November sale. He then attracted a final bid of $195,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale where he was acquired by Phase II Thoroughbreds out of the Four Star Sales consignment.
"Diamond Bachelor was always a good horse for us," said Dunne. "On a day-to-day basis, he was real easy to train, very willing. He will gallop all day long, and has great action. We always figured he would be a top turf horse."
Racing for Diamond 100 Racing Club, Mrs. Susan Magnier, and Robert Trussel, and trained by Biancone, Diamond Bachelor ran like a good thing in his turf debut at Del Mar Aug. 8, winning comfortably by 3 1/4 lengths under Julien Leparoux. He joined the ranks of stakes winners in his second start at Del Mar Sept. 4, taking the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf.
Challenged on the front end throughout in his most recent start, Diamond Bachelor finished second, beaten less than a length in the Zuma Beach at one mile on the turf at Santa Anita Oct. 6 in his prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on the main track. He is pre-entered in both the Juvenile and the Juvenile Turf with first preference in the Juvenile.
"Patrick had mentioned to me before the Zuma Beach that he was tempted to run him in the ForeRunner (gr. I) on the dirt," Dunne said, "but opted instead for the path of least resistance. It was kind of a funny race the way it developed. Patrick was disappointed that he lost, but he wasn't upset. The plan all along was to gear him up properly for this race.
"He has a high-cruising speed," Dunne added of Diamond Bachelor. "We know he'll go that far. If he can establish a good running position with his speed and have a kick at the end, we might just see a big effort from him."
Rum Point, a $150,000 Keeneland September yearling graduate, was a $260,000 RNA for Wavertree at the Barretts sale. The colt by Malibu Moon —Quiet Weekend, by Quiet American, broke his maiden at Del Mar Aug. 3 for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O'Neil. He finished fourth in Keeneland's Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) Oct. 5.
"We were always high on him," Dunne said. "He should get better with experience. He was trapped on the rail last time. With the right trip, he can surprise some people. He's a nice horse."
Rounding out Wavertree's Juvenile entrants is Mexikoma, a $55,000 OBS April Spring sale of 2-year-olds-in-training graduate. The son of Birdstone won a maiden special weight by 14 3/4 lengths in his last start Sept. 12 at Delaware Park for owner-trainer Michael Dilger.
"The Juvenile should be a very interesting race," Dunne said. "We thought both Diamond Bachelor and Mexikoma would be grass horses judging by their action. "It will be cool to see how the race plays out."
Mexikoma will be the first Breeders' Cup starter for breeders Bryan and Melody Hicks of Hickstead Farm in Ocala.
"He's a lovely horse," Melody Hicks said of Mexikoma. "We always loved him. He was kind of a late bloomer, but he got better every day."
The Hicks have a yearling half sister to Mexikoma by Afleet Alex out of their Toccet mare Toccet Over that will sell next year under the Wavertree banner.
Ontology, who sold for $210,000 at the OBS March Sale of selected 2-year-olds in training, is pre- entered in the Juvenile Turf. Also owned by Reddam Racing, Ontology, a chestnut son of Tapit , is conditioned by Simon Callaghan.
Still a maiden after five tries, Ontology is twice stakes-placed. He finished second in both the Hollywood Juvenile Championship July 13 and the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf behind Diamond Bachelor. Ontology didn't fare well in his initial try over Santa Anita's main track, and finished eighth in the FrontRunner last time out.
"Ontology is a beautiful-moving horse," Dunne said. "He needs a pace to run at, and an outside draw will help him. He was drawn inside last time, and he doesn't like it down there."
Wavertree Stables, agent, led all 2-year-old consignors by gross sales in 2012, selling 98 juveniles for more than $13.2 million. The Ocala, Fla.-based operation topped all juvenile consignors again this year, selling 114 head for $15,706,600, $2.5 million more in sales than the second-ranked consignor, Eddie Woods, agent.
Always quick to credit the work and dedication of the Wavertree team, Dunne recognizes the long process required to reach the Breeders' Cup stage.
"To have horses from our program in the Breeders' Cup validates the hard work of the entire team," Dunne said. "We had a good showing last year, winning one Breeders' Cup race and placing in two others. With any luck, maybe we can follow up with an even better showing this year."