Petty Ready for BC Run Aboard McDynamo

Jody Petty rides McDynamo in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I), but the jockey isn't feeling the pressure. He's ridden McDynamo before, lots of times.

"I know him better than any other jockey," said Petty, who works for McDynamo's trainer Sanna Hendriks. "I've schooled him before the other two Breeders' Cups. I'm very excited about it because I think he's training great."

Owned by Michael Moran, McDynamo is the 8-5 second choice in the $200,000 Breeders' Cup, the richest steeplechase in North America. The 8-year-old son of Dynaformer tries to become the first Thoroughbred to win the race three times, and faces 2004 Eclipse Award winner Hirapour and four others in the 2 5/8-mile, 14-fence race.

A veteran of 13 NSA seasons, Petty comes into the race on a roll and is now tied with Matt McCarron atop the jockey standings with 14 wins. Petty opened the fall season with two wins (one each at Shawan Downs and Foxfield), bagged four at the two-day Virginia Fall meet and added single scores at Genesee and the International Gold Cup.

"You go through phases where you feel like you're riding well and I feel like I am right now," he said. "I'm riding consistently well right now and having a lot of luck this fall."

Petty, 33, has won exactly one grade I stakes in his career--the 1998 Royal Chase at Keeneland aboard Clearance Code-- and has made his reputation as a solid choice, but never a go-to stakes jockey. That changed this week when Hendriks made the call.

"I found out Tuesday morning while I was driving to Fair Hill (Training
Center), but I had a feeling," said Petty. "Two weeks ago Sanna told me not to take any Breeders' Cup rides until I talked to her."

McDynamo has won with three jockeys in his 16-start jump career, finding the winner's circle with Craig Thornton, Matt McCarron, and Gus Brown. Rob Massey rode the 8-year-old in his last two starts, both seconds in stakes company and Hendriks made the change to Petty in hopes of ending a five-race losing streak.

"Craig isn't riding right now so we made a change (to Massey) this summer," said Hendriks. "Jody has worked him, schooled him and is riding very well right now. I'm hoping Jody can give him a positive ride. If know a rider who's on a roll and he works for you, you may as well use him."

Hopping on McDynamo could come with its fair share of pressure. The 2003 Eclipse Award winner has never lost in four starts at Far Hills, tries to become the first horse in history to win three Breeders' Cup Steeplechases and could vault to third on American steeplechasing's career earnings list with a win. But, he's also lost five straight and comes in as a slight underdog to 2004 champion Hirapour.

"Sanna said 'this could be a high-pressure ride,' but it's not," said Petty. "Her point to me is to ride him to win and don't ride him not to lose. It sounds silly, but that's going to be important. I love the opportunity to turn him around."

As one of McDynamo's exercise riders, with Brianne Grumbling, Petty knows a little about his horse.

"He doesn't feel any different at all to me," said the jockey. "I think he's just as capable as he ever was."


Pre-race rain will favor McDynamo, who won in soft ground at Far Hills in 2002 and captured the 2003 Breeders' Cup over a course labeled good...The Breeders' Cup is the fifth of seven races at Far Hills Saturday. The first starts at 12:30 p.m., with the feature set for approximately 3 p.m. The day includes races worth $525,000, the third-highest daily purse structure in American Thoroughbred racing Saturday behind only Belmont Park and Keeneland...The Breeders' Cup Steeplechase will be part of the Wire to Wire show on ESPN2 next week. The show airs Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.