Ivan, Dr. Pleasure Trying to Live Up to Mommas' Breeders' Cup Success

Ivan Denisovich and Dr. Pleasure, rivals in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I.), have the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in their blood. Both of their dams were Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winners. Ivan Denisovich's mother, Hollywood Wildcat, scored in her victory in 1993 while Dr. Pleasure's mom, won in 1999. In addition, Ivan Denisovich is a half-brother to 2000 Breederes' Cup Mile (gr.IT) winner War Chant.

Ivan Denisovich has captured two of his five career races. He is one of three runners based in Europe that will contest this year's Juvenile, which has been won in two of its four most recent renewals by foreign invaders: Johannesburg (2001) and Wilko (2004). Aidan O'Brien, who saddled Johannesburg, also trains Ivan Denisovoch, who is a group II winner in Europe. In his last outing before arriving in this country, the son of Danehill finished fourth in the Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I) on Sept. 30.

"He (Ivan Denisovich) is a horse that's always wanted fast ground and usually the good dirt horses need to handle fast ground," O'Brien said. "On fast ground, he always showed enough pace, and we always thought he could go much farther than six furlongs. Then again, he's by Danehill, and sometimes they don't work out on the dirt. But then there's Hollywood Wildcat and she could run really well on the dirt. If we could have had fast ground, nice ground, in his last race, the Middle Park, we have known a lot more about him."

Dr. Pleasure, who stands about 16.1 hands, is lightly raced. He broke his maiden at Saratoga by 7 ½ lengths and then finished second to by 3 ½ lengths to He's Got Grit in the Oct. 2 Cowdin Stakes at Belmont Park.

"Dr. Pleasure looks like his mother when she was a 2-year-old; he moves like his mother; and he started out with a disposition very similar to hers last winter as an early 2-year-old," said Donna Ward, the assistant to her husband, John Ward, who trained Beautiful Pleasure and now conditions her son. "He was very headstrong. If he was going to do something, he was going to do it his way. We've really worked with him and now he's such a gentleman that I actually was saying to Johnny the other day, 'It's almost hard to know how he feels about something because he is such gentleman.' He does what you ask him to do. He tries to be pleasing. He can be mischievous, but he's basically okay with being whatever you want him to be. And I think in the long run that's really going to pay off very well."

Beautiful Pleasure was a big, brawny mare, and while her son has her size, he doesn't yet have her bulging muscles. But he's a growing boy.

"He's grown since he's been here (after arriving at Belmont around Sept. 22)," Donna Ward said. "At first I thought it was my imagination, and then even the veterinarian, when he came by, he said, 'You know, this horse has gotten taller.' He's like a big, gangly teen-ager."

Dr. Pleasure (by Thunder Gulch) also is developing mentally, learning from new experiences.

"In his first race, it was so easy for him, and he never had to take dirt," Ward said. "The last race, I think, showed some immaturity when (jockey Edgar) Prado dropped him over behind horses and he just backed up. I don't think he backed up because the dirt bothered him so much – and Edgar said the same thing – it just surprised him. The nice thing was once he (Prado) got him out and asked him to start running, he made up a lot of ground. We feel the extra distance in the Juvenile will be to his advantage."