The final shipment of European runners for this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships arrived at the quarantine barn at Santa Anita Park late the evening of Oct. 29, while others who had arrived earlier took to the track for the first time the next morning.
Aidan O'Brien's party of nine runners, including Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) contender St Nicholas Abbey and Excelebration, who is pointing for the Mile (gr. IT), touched down in California shortly after 8 p.m. PST, and were safely bedded down by 11 p.m. local time after clearing customs.
The earliest the contingent will be seen on the track is the morning of Nov. 1, after they have completed the mandatory 42-hour quarantine period, but all were reported to have traveled well and O'Brien will be flying to California the evening of Oct. 30 to oversee final preparations.
There was no shortage of activity on the racetrack the morning of Oct. 30, when the majority of the European challengers visited the oval for the first time.
First out was the Dermot Weld-trained Marathon (gr. II) contender Sense of Purpose
, who did some very light exercise out on the main track.
, trained by John Gosden and favored in the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT); the Jeremy Noseda-trained Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) contender The Gold Cheongsam
; Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) runner Fantastic Moon
; and David Simcock's Filly & Mare Turf entrant I'm A Dreamer
all completed a circuit of the dirt track at a steady walk and a gentle trot.
Roger Charlton's Juvenile Turf contender Dundonnell
, with jockey James Doyle on board, went to the turf course for a gentle trot and a general stretching of his legs. Doyle, who will have his first Breeders' Cup mount Nov. 3, is visiting Santa Anita for the first time.
Asked for his impressions, the rider said, "This is a spectacular track, the views really are impressive, and I'm looking forward to Saturday. There is a great atmosphere and it's events like the Breeders' Cup and Dubai World Cup that are really exciting for a jockey to ride. Yes, I expect I will be a little nervous, but it's more with anticipation than being anxious about the race."
Doyle enjoyed the biggest win of his career when riding the Roger Charlton-trained Cityscape
to win the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) on Dubai World Cup day. He added, "This has been a great year for me, and I am very grateful to Roger Charlton for the opportunities that he has given me. He is a very good trainer, and has a lot of experience, and as a jockey he gives you a lot of confidence.
"Dundonnell has done very well this season, and has good form with a lot of the best 2-year-olds back home. I feel he goes into the race on Saturday with a leading chance."
Juvenile Sprint hopeful Ceiling Kitty
, trained by Tom Dascombe, took a while to get used to her new surroundings and with the assistance of a pony did a circuit of the dirt track before returning to the barn.
Mahmood Al Zarooni was again at the track Oct. 30 as his Juvenile Turf runner Artigiano
followed a similar pattern to Oct. 29 by first going a couple of laps of the training track before stretching out a bit more on the main track.
The French contingent consisting of Mile-running filly Moonlight Cloud
(Filly & Mare Turf), Turf (gr. IT) contender Shareta
, and Flotilla
(Juvenile Fillies Turf) also had some gentle exercise on the main track at around 8 a.m.
French trainer Mikel Delzangles, who has made his mark internationally with 2011 Melbourne Cup victor Dunaden
and English 2000 Guineas winner Makfi
in 2010 is responsible for Flotilla and The Aga Khan's Ridasiyna, impressive winner of the Prix de l'Opera (Fr-I), while Freddy Head, three times successful in the Mile with Goldikova
, attempts to win the race this year with Moonlight Cloud