Coolmore and trainer Aidan O’Brien took a chance by entering only Rip Van Winkle in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), despite the colt’s history of foot problems, and now they could wind up without a horse in the race if Rip’s most recent setback proves serious enough to force his withdrawal.
O’Brien told the Racing Post Tuesday, “This horse has had no clean run this year and he hasn't had one this time.’ The problem is again a foot problem but this time a different foot is affected.”
Rip Van Winkle is the overwhelming 6-4 favorite with William Hill and Coral. O’Brien said Rip Van Winkle will go to the track on Wednesday, after which they will determine the extent of the injury.
“With Rip Van Winkle it's always been day by day,” O’Brien said. “What he's done up to now I've been amazed that he's been able to do."
Rip Van Winkle came down with a stone bruise bruise prior to the 2,000
Coolmore had been pointing Mastercraftsman for the Classic as well, prepping him in the 1 3/16-mile Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) on the all-weather track at Dundalk, which he won easily after coming from 20 lengths back. But they decided just prior to entry day to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I).
In other Classic News:
Quality Road and Gio Ponti arrived at Santa Anita Tuesday, leaving Zenyatta as the only Classic starter not on the grounds. The undefeated daughter of Street Cry, who has been installed as the 5-2 favorite, is scheduled to van over from Hollywood Park Wednesday morning.
Awesome Gem, winner of the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) in his last start, went to the track for the first time after arriving from Hollwood Park. The son of Awesome Again joggged once around with Jeff Bloom, executive vice-president of West Coast operations for West Point Thoroughbreds, aboard.
Summer Bird made a grand appearance Tuesday, standing on the track for several minutes before beginning his gallop. The son of Birdstone is carrying his flesh well and is muscled out. This is not the same horse physically that we saw before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I) or even the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Calvin Borel won't have far to go to get to the rail with Mine That Bird drawing the inside post. The interesting aspect of the post position draw was Regal Ransom, the apparent speed of the race, drawing post 11 with Quality Road, another colt with brilliant speed when needed, just outside him in post 12. That means Quality Road will have to break alertly and try to save as much ground as possible to avoid getting hung wide on the first turn. On the other hand, you don't want to push him out of the gate for fear of getting him too much on the muscle. There is a good run to the turn, leaving John Velazquez with enough time to assess the situation.
Rip Van Winkle also is out there in post 10, and Johnny Murtagh will have to decide whether to break with the leaders on his outside or take back and try to find cover. Girolamo, in post 9, is the other speed/stalker, so the three horses who should occupy the first three spots will be eyeballing each other early to see what the others are doing.
Summer Bird is down in post 3, and Kent Desormeaux also will have a decision to make -- break sharply and put his colt up near the pace, as he's been doing lately, or let him settle in mid-pack and wait for the holes to open.