Top Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien gave the media more time than usual Thursday morning at Arlington, talking for nearly 20 minutes outside the quarantine barn. O'Brien will saddle seven horses Saturday in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
O'Brien, who trains for the powerful Coolmore team of John and Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor, has Hawk Wing in the Classic (gr. I), High Chaparral in the John Deere Turf (gr. IT), Hold That Tiger, Van Nistelrooy, and Tomahawk in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I), and Rock of Gibraltar and Landseer in the NetJets Mile (gr. IT).
After a huge showing by European runners in last year's Breeders' Cup, there is much hope for Saturday, especially where it concerns Rock of Gibraltar. The 3-year-old Danehill colt has won seven straight group I races, breaking the record of the legendary Mill Reef in the process.
"I would have preferred a bit better draw in the Mile," O'Brien said of Rock of Gibraltar's 10 post and Landseer's 13. "Rock of Gibraltar has never been bothered by such things because he will relax. You just hope he gets to make his run.
"He's had a long season," O'Brien continued about his stable star. "But, they have all been group I races, so he has maintained his form in top-class races. He really is an amazing horse."
As for the streak of victories, O'Brien said, "As a trainer, we all know they all get beat at some point. Circumstances can beat him. If it happens, it happens."
As for his other horses, O'Brien's sound bites:
High Chaparral: "I'm very happy with him. He didn't lose much weight on the trip. He had a very relaxed run in the Arc (finishing third). I think in the Arc I didn't have him sharp enough."
Tomahawk: He's in very good form. He finished a very good second in his first group I race (Middle Park Stakes). I hope he holds his form from that effort."
Hold That Tiger: He really quickened in his race in France (Grand Criterium). He was traveling so well."
Van Nistelrooy: "He is the one I have always thought would appreciate a mile and a little further."
Hawk Wing: "He's been unlucky. He wants fast ground and has had a long, hard season. He always looked as if he would handle the dirt."
"I'm being realistic being here," he continued. "These horse have had good years in Europe and they've done great to get here to this point. After the sickness many of my horses had in the middle of the season this year, I didn't think I would get here with anything."