Toast Of New York: bidding to emulate Arcangues by winning on dirtPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
'Austin Powers' gunning for glory in the Classic
JAMIE OSBORNE has been christened Austin Powers by US trainer Bob Baffert because of a likeness to the actor Mike Myers. And to his opponents the Lambourn trainer is the international man of mystery in Saturday's $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
His runner Toast Of New York has been an extraordinary breadwinner this year, winning the UAE Derby and finishing second in the Del Mar Classic, but if he could net the climactic event of these two-day championships the Michael Buckley-owned colt, Osborne and jockey Jamie Spencer would be the toast of Europe.
In 30 runnings of the event only one European-trained horse has landed a Classic run on dirt, and the victory of the Andre Fabre-trained Arcangues at 133-1 remains the biggest upset in Breeders' Cup history. Frankie Dettori, who won the race on Raven's Pass when the main surface was synthetic, partners US-trained Imperative.
Toast Of New York is no longshot. His defeat at Del Mar was at the hands of the unbeaten Shared Belief, Saturday's favourite, but that contest was staged on Polytrack and his ability to handle dirt will be the key to his challenge.
Osborne said: "He is a pretty mature-looking three-year-old now and he has kept improving as the year has gone on. He deserves to be here. The big question mark is the surface.
"What is he, 12-1 or 14-1? I hope he has a better chance than that, the favourite being as short as he is and we weren't that far behind him on Polytrack. You could argue that Shared Belief isn't quite as good on dirt. We might not be, but on the other hand we might be.
"We will roll those dice and see what happens. He is a big strong horse, unfazed by things. Everyone says he has the physique of a dirt horse, and there is a bit of dirt in his pedigree."
Baffert saddles Bayern, one of the challengers expected to serve it up to the field after recording all-the-way wins this year in the Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby by margins of seven and a quarter lengths and five and three-quarters.
But the race's headline horses are Shared Belief, the winner of all six starts, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome, and the colt who ended his Triple Crown dream, Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist.
Having missed the Triple Crown series due to injury, last year's leading juvenile Shared Belief has impressed in all bar his last start, when he had to overcome being forced wide to win the Awesome Again Stakes by a neck. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is taking nothing for granted.
"He has done everything that we've ever asked him to do," he said. "I'm quite confident that he's going to be ready, and we'll see what happens when the gate opens."
Since finishing fourth in the Belmont, California Chrome flopped on his comeback behind Bayern,but he has been working more like is old self.
"California Chrome is training better than he did before the Santa Anita Derby," said trainer Art Sherman. "He's right on his game. He needed his last race. He didn't have the best trip. I think you will see a different horse."