Went The Day Well is a 25-1 shot for the Kentucky DerbyPICTURE: Matt Wooley/EquiSport
McMahon upset by Team Valor boss Barry Irwin
ED MCMAHON, former trainer of Kentucky Derby contender Went The Day Well, has become embroiled in a transatlantic war of words with the colt's newowners.
The Team Valor syndicate, who won last year's Derby with Animal Kingdom, purchased a majority share in the son of Proud Citizen last year after he finished runner-up in a pair of two-year-old races on turf for McMahon.
He was then transferred to US-based Englishman Graham Motion, who saddled him to win the Grade 3 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in March.
Lichfield-based McMahon has been outraged by comments made by Team Valor principal Barry Irwin in a live teleconference with US journalists.
"He's made us look like we don't know what we are doing," McMahon said. Irwin had suggested that Went The Day Well, 25-1 with Britishbookmakers, should not have been asked to make the running on his second start at Leicester in October, when he was collared by the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Thomas Chippendale.
"It was breathtaking and mind-boggling," said Irwin. "For some reason, the jock got it into his head to put him on the lead which he didn't want to do.
"He looked like a horse who was running in the wrong place to me," added Irwin. "He's bred for the dirt and he looks like a dirt horse - he's a big strapping horse."
In response McMahon, quoted on the Racing UK website, said: "I've never met Barry Irwin but I've heard his comments - if I came face to face with him I would give him a piece of my mind. He's an obnoxious so-and-so."
In other Kentucky news, Ballydoyle challenger Daddy Long Legs, the mount of Colm O'Donoghue, issafely ensconced in the quarantine barn after arriving at 5am on Wednesday.
Rajiv Maragh has been confirmed as the rider of Godolphin challenger Alpha. "We're not swapping him with Frankie," said racing manager Simon Crisford. "It's horses for courses this weekend."
Four-time winner D Wayne Lukas is set to saddle his 45th runner after outsider Optimizer sneaked into the 20-runner field when Louisiana Derby runner-up Mark Valeski was withdrawn from consideration.
Ante-post betting in Britain is still dominated by Bob Baffert's Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister and Union Rags, narrowly defeated by Saturday's rival Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
The presence of the sprinter Trinniberg in the field could be detrimental to the chances of several horses who like to race on or near the lead, among them leading fancies like Bodemeister and Hansen, and Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy.
A speed burn-up might help the chances of a closing type like Blue Grass winner Dullahan - a scenario not lost on Jerry Crawford of owners Donegal Racing. "I love how he's peaking for the race and I love the pace set-up," said Crawford. "And the rumour is not true that we paid for Trinniberg's entrance fee!"