Paco Boy's Trainer: 'America Is Not for Me'

Richard Hannon staying in England while Paco Boy competes in the Breeders' Cup.

If Paco Boy, who has been chasing Goldikova in Europe, turns the tables on that daunting rival and beats her in the Nov. 6 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs, you won’t see his trainer, Richard Hannon, celebrating in the winner’s circle.

Hannon, who has stayed home in England, was quoted on his website ( Oct. 28 as saying: “America is not for me. I’ve tried it twice and didn’t like the place, so I will leave it to Richard Jr. (his assistant) and (jockey) Richard Hughes to bring home a fistful of dollars.”

Hannon isn’t happy with American immigration authorities, who refused to give a working visa to an Indian stable lad who had been riding Paco Boy regularly in the morning.

“Don’t ask me for the lad’s proper name, but we have always called him 'Elvis',” Hannon said. “We filed all the relevant forms so that he could go with Paco Boy to Kentucky, and now we hear that his application has been turned down. Apparently, they are not required to give us a reason for the refusal, but I think it is very unfair and feel sorry for the lad, who idolizes Paco Boy and has done so much with the horse these last two seasons.

“I don’t know whether they are frightened that Elvis will do a runner,“ Hannon continued, “but he is a smashing lad who just wants to do his job.  He would have flown out with the horse on Nov. 1 and returned to Herridge (in England) in following Monday. We also applied for visas for two of our British lasses, Clare and Stacey, and they have both been granted, so why pick on Elvis? Now you know why I will not be going (to the Breeders’ Cup).”

A 5-year-old son of Desert Style, Paco Boy has faced Goldikova three times this year. He finished second to her when she won the June 15 Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) and the Oct. 3 Qatar Prix de la Foret (Fr-I), beaten by a neck in the former and then by a half-length in the latter. Paco Boy also was third when Goldikova finished second in the Aug. 15 Prix du Harras de Fresnay-le-Buffard-Jacques le Marois (Fr-I). In 2008, he finished third but was disqualified and placed 11th in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Fr-I), which was won by Goldikova.

Goldikova captured the 2008 and 2009 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile and a victory this year would give her an unprecedented  third victory.

“Paco Boy has kept his form remarkably well through the season,” Hannon said. “He had his first run at Sandown in April. While we’ve obviously got Goldikova to beat, he does have a terrific turn of foot so he ought to be suited by the style of their racing out there (in America). And, who knows, we might just get lucky.”

Paco Boy won the Queen Anne in 2009, the Total Prix de la Foret (Fr-I) in 2008, and this year’s Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I). Owned by The Calvera Partnership N1/22, he has finished first nine times in added-money events during his career.

Hannon’s website reported Nov. 1 that Paco Boy had arrived at Churchill Downs and was settling down in his new surroundings.

Hannon’s first Breeders’ Cup runner, Showbrook, was eased and did not finish in the 1991 Juvenile (gr. I). The trainer’s second, Mr Brooks, was injured approaching the stretch in the 1992 Sprint (gr. I) and had to be euthanized. Surprise Offer, trained by Hannon, became tired and faded to 10th in the 1993 Sprint.

In another twist to the Paco Boy story, ESPN reported Nov. 1 that Richard Hannon Jr. said Hughes might remain in England to chase a riding title instead of riding the horse in the Breeders' Cup Mile.