Likely Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) favorite Sarafina had an easy jog in her first tour of Churchill Downs Nov. 1, one of three European contenders in the race taking to the track for some light exercise.
Also out after clearing quarantine were Breeders' Cup veteran Midday, who is contesting the Turf for the first time after winning the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in 2009 and running second in last year's version, and Sea Moon, one of two 3-year-olds in the mile-and-a-half race. Both are Juddmonte Farms homebreds.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Await the Dawn and St Nicholas Abbey were expected to arrive in Louisville from Ireland the evening of Nov. 1. Flying in from New York were Belmont Park-based Brilliant Speed and Teaks North.
Tom Albertrani, who trains Live Oak Plantation's Brilliant Speed, said the 2011 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner has trained well. "He’ll get the distance and the way he’s training I feel very confident that he’s in great form,” he said.
Brilliant Speed enters the Turf off a second-place finish in the Oct. 8 Jamaica Stakes (gr. IT).
Dean's Kitten's victory in the Dallas Turf Cup is his lone victory from seven tries this season, but the 4-year-old son of Kitten's Joy has emerged as one of the country's top turf horses with a third in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) and second in the Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT). Both of those losses came to Cape Blanco, who would have been one of the favorites for the BC Turf if not for a career-ending injury.
“This horse has really proved himself this year,” Maker said. “He’s matured, and held his own with some of the top grass horses. He gives 110% effort every time.”
Maker acknowledged that Stately Victor, winner of the 2010 Toyota Blue Grass, faces a stern but not impossible test in the Turf. “The owners are big St. Louis Cardinals fans, and everyone saw the odds they overcame to win the World Series,” Maker said, “not to mention the fact that we won the Blue Grass with this horse at 40-1. They know that anything can happen when you swing for the fences.”
The Turf drew a total of nine runners, with The Aga Khan's Sarafina the morning-line favorite at 5-2. The 4-year-old daughter of Refuse To Bend was most recently seventh in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) after three consecutive group victories in France this season. Her victories last year included the group I Prix de Diane (French Oaks).
Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre is expected in Louisville Nov. 3 after saddling Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) defending titlist Americain , who finished fourth in this year's running. Meanwhile, Christophe Lemaire, Sarafina's regular jockey, warmed up for his ride in the Turf with a victory aboard Dunaden in Australia's most famous race.