In his emergence as one of the world's top turf sprinters, Mike Cloonan's Morluc has taken trainer Randy Morse to places he had never seen before. Next stop for Morse and Morluc will be England for the famed Royal Ascot meet.
Morluc, who has twice taken the Texas-born Morse to Hong Kong to face international competition, is scheduled to run in Golden Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I) on June 21. The 7-year-old son of Housebuster will run at six furlongs on the straight in his latest globe-trotting journey.
"It is pretty amazing," said Morse. "Usually with these horses, something goes wrong. But this horse has always come through and he always shows up -- unless he catches soft, soft turf. That's the only time he hasn't run."
Morse considered the trip to Royal Ascot with Morluc a year ago, but elected to stay in Kentucky, where he ran a strong second to Good Journey in the Firecracker Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. The Golden Jubilee presents Morluc with the opportunity to win a group I race at a sprint distance on grass, a chance that does not exist in the United States. His trips to Hong Kong, in which he suffered narrow defeats in a pair of runner-up finishes in the rich Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin, have shown that Morluc is a good traveler. The same is true of Morse, who is eager to participate in a racing meet that is regarded as one of the world's finest.
"It would be an experience," said Morse. "I've never been there and it's kind of neat to see how people in other countries do their horses and how they train."
Morluc is coming off a disappointing seventh place finish in the Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint on Memorial Day at Lone Star Park, a race in which he caught a boggy turf course that he did not relish. But Morse said his veteran star came out of the race well and has thrived since then.
He will take a career record of 11-9-5 in 39 races and earnings of $1,045,728 into the Golden Jubilee. Morluc will leave Churchill Downs on June 11 for a van ride to Toronto. He'll spend a day in the Canadian city and then fly to London on the 13th.
Morse will head to England two days later. But he will travel without something that is considered essential to any participant or visitor at the legendary Royal Ascot.
Morse does not own a top hat, but he plans to take care of that before race day.
"I think they rent those over there," he said.