The Breeders' Cup World Championships actually being just that has taken hold with at least one trainer. Ed Dunlop, who conditions Ouija Board, has planned three campaigns for the filly, each designed with the Breeders' Cup in mind.
And, after two successful forays resulting in a win and a second, the 5-year-old Cape Cross mare is back to try it again.
"Well, it is the world championships and it is a thrill to run any horse in it," Dunlop said during a Nov. 2 press conference at Churchill Downs, two days before Ouija Board makes her third start in the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
"I'm very lucky that her owner (Lord Derby) has let her remain in training," Dunlop said. "She had an injury at 3 and many owners would have retired her right then. I have pointed her for three years through very different campaigns but always with the Breeders' Cup in mind."
Ouija Board first race in the race at Lone Star in 2004 as a 3-year-old after a good third-place finish in the Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). She was the 9-10 favorite in Texas going 1 3/8-mile and under Kieren Fallon drew off late to win by 1 ½ lengths.
In 2005, Ouija Board had just two starts during the year prior to the Filly & Mare Turf, at Belmont Park contested over 1 ¼ mile. Sent off the $1.35 favorite, she ran second to Intercontinental under Frankie Dettori. Having had only three runs, Ouija Board then ran in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I), finishing fifth, before winning the Hong Kong Vase (HK-I).
This has been a very different season for Ouija Board, with seven races already in 2006, but Dunlop has the same three races mapped out to finish her career before she is bred to Kingmambo.
She has been a gem of consistency again this year, with two wins in seven starts as well as two seconds and a third. She enters the Filly & Mare Turf off a neck loss in the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I).
"Everyone has commented about her number of races this year, but she's a freak," Dunlop said. "She takes care of herself. Her temperament is what is so special about her. She has a great attitude."
Ouija Board drew post two and was made the 8-5 favorite. Dettori will again ride.
Ouija Board won in Texas over yielding ground and was second at Belmont Park over good turf. There has been considerable rain in Kentucky, so firm is out of the question Nov. 4.
"The ground was better today but is still soft, but in two more days it will be what we would call good English ground."
Horse were allowed to train over the turf Thursday morning but races were taken off the grass for the race card.