As we head into Breeders' Cup week, we have plenty to look back on and plenty still to look forward to until the big day Saturday.
The two marquee names, Fusaichi Pegasus and Riboletta, completed their final works on Sunday, and that same morning the announcement was made that defending European Horse of the Year Montjeu is on the plane and heading to Kentucky for the Turf (gr. I). We also witnessed quite a show put on by Montjeu's conqueror in the Dubai Champion Stakes (gr. I-Eng), Kalanisi, whose antics before and after his work on the turf course made last week's stunts of Fusaichi Pegasus look tame by comparison.
Still to look forward to over the next two days are the arrivals of the main bulk of the Europeans and two planeloads from California. The only race that has had any significant changes since the pre-entry draw is the Turf, where the defections of Mutafaweq and Boatman let in the only two also-eligibles, Williams News and Subtle Power. It was ironic that Mutafaweq was the one who allowed in Williams News after the Godolphin colt defeated Williams News by a nose in the Canadian International Championship (gr. IT-Can).
The Distaff, which drew the smallest number of pre-entries (11), got even smaller when Plenty of Light, owned by Riboletta's owner Aaron Jones, pulled out after suffering a slight filling in her ankle.
As for the latest works, it was a hectic weekend, with 25 Breeders' Cup horses having their final drills. But, as always, the one everyone talked about was Fusaichi Pegasus, who was out just past 6 a.m. for his seven-furlong spin in company with the always dependable Bodyguard (who recently was purchased by Fusaichi's co-owner Fusao Sekiguchi as a thank you for all the horse has meant to the Kentucky Derby winner).
Fusaichi Pegasus was a thing of beauty, even in the dark, as he exploded away from Bodyguard with not even the slightest urging by exercise rider Andy Durnin to cover the seven furlongs in 1:27 4/5.
Riboletta's trainer Eduardo Inda was looking for a nice easy work for the Brazilian-bred mare, and that's just what he got, as Riboletta completed her five-furlong drill in 1:00 3/5. Ironically, the only person in the trainer's stand who clocked Riboletta, was John Ward, who trains her main foe Beautiful Pleasure. Ward caught Riboletta in 1:01.
The morning ended with a bang, as Michael Stoute sent out Petrushka and Kalanisi for a scheduled half-mile work in company on the turf. But things didn't work out quite as planned. Kalanisi, upon leaving the clubhouse turn, bolted and wheeled at some distraction, then refused to continue.
They managed to coax him a little farther, but he once again balked, and Petrushka finally was sent on her way alone, breezing a half in :49 1/5. Finally, Kalanisi settled down and went on to breeze his half in :50 1/5. But galloping out, he again lost it at the same spot, and this time unseated his rider, who was prepared. He quickly got up off the turf, while holding on to the reins, and re-mounted. In the end, no hard was done, and Stoute took it all in stride, laughing over the incident.