Sixties Icon, an invader from England, is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Marathon Oct. 24 at Santa Anita. Six of his eight career victories have been scored at the Marathon’s distance of 1 1/2 miles or longer. In 2006, he became a European classic winner, taking the Ladbrokes St. Leger (Eng-I) by 2 1/2 lengths.
“It’s a Breeders’ Cup race, and it’s a special day,” said trainer Jeremy Noseda of his decision to bring Sixties Icon to California. “Ever since I saw this race was added to the card, I felt it would suit him ideally. I think he looks very competitive in this spot, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
“I looked at the (Breeders’ Cup) Turf (gr. IT) and thought he would have had a chance there,” the trainer continued. “But, realistically, if he ran a great race, he would finish third or fourth. I just looked at the Marathon and thought, ‘Well, if he runs his top race in the Marathon he’s going to take a world of beating, so let’s go where we can get the job done.’ In looking at the race, he appears to be the class horse in the event.”
Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface also made the Marathon appealing to Noseda.“Sixties Icon would not be in the Marathon if it was run at Churchill Downs on the dirt,” the trainer said. “I’m here because it’s on a synthetic surface, and I think it’s the way forward if we want a proper Breeders’ Cup meeting where we can hopefully all compete on a level playing field. This is the type of surface we need to see those races run on, and I hope Saturday (Oct. 25) will prove it’s a more international day of racing.”
A 5-year-old son of Galileo, Sixties Icon does most of his training over Polytrack, according to Noseda, and “he’s always handled it very, very well. He went to Lingfield last week and did a good piece of work over a mile around Lingfield, and I was happy with the way he went, so I’m more than hopeful. Walking out on it (Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface), it looks very, very similar to the Polytrack that I would see at Lingfield.”
Sixties Icon, owned by Mrs. Susan Roy, carries a three-race win streak into the Marathon. In August, he captured the Coutts Glorious (Eng-III) and the CGA Geoffrey Freer (Eng-III) Stakes. He then scored in the Sept. 28 Grosvenor Casinos Cumberland Lodge Stakes (Eng-III).
One of the keys to the consecutive wins is “he dropped back in class into grade III company,” Noseda said. “He’s had issues with his wind for a few years now. He was operated on last autumn, and I think as much as anything, he’s got his confidence again and he’s happy. Because he’s more confident in his racing, things have sort of fallen into place. We stayed in that group III company because we just felt that we would keep putting him in spots where he could win.”
Asked if he thought the horses Sixties Icon will face in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon are similar to the grade III company his charge competed against in England, Noseda took the diplomatic approach in his reply.
“We’ll let you press decide what caliber you think it is,” the trainer said. “All I want to do is go out there and win it, and it doesn’t matter to me. It’s a Breeders’ Cup race and if I can get out there and get the job done, I have no issues with things after that.”