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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

O'Brien reports Mendelssohn in fine shape for Kentucky Derby after eventful trip

Mendelssohn: the UAE Derby winner's flight was delayed following a mix-up of documents
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Aidan O'Brien has reported Mendelssohn in rude health in advance of his bid to become the first European-trained winner of the Kentucky Derby, for which he will break from stall 14 of the 20 runners.

Connections will hope the colt's journey around the track will go more smoothly than his journey to it after he experienced a 125-mile diversion to Indianapolis.

However, he is none the worse for the inconvenience, according to O'Brien, who said: "Pat [Keating] and the other lads who travelled over with Mendelssohn are all very happy with him. He's travelled over fine and will now head into quarantine for a few days." 

The impressive UAE Derby winner had a longer journey to Kentucky than planned, his plane being diverted to Indianapolis owing to an issue over travel documents.

Mendelssohn is vying with Justify for favouritism, with British and Irish bookmakers generally just preferring the Bob Baffert-trained colt after Tuesday's draw, in which Justify came out with stall seven.

He was cut to 7-2 (from 4) by bet365 and BoyleSports, although Coral and William Hill were unmoved by the draw and kept Mendelssohn as favourite, going 4-1 and 7-2 respectively. 

With market leaders in the Qipco 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, in the shape of Gustav Klimt and Happily, it could be a huge weekend for O'Brien, even by his standards.

He said of the Kentucky Derby challenge: "It's a very different culture and a new experience for us all but to have a horse going over there with a chance is a great position to be in.

"We were very lucky to get the two runs into him this season and he has kept progressing from race to race. We were thrilled with him at Dundalk and then he improved again in Dubai, and hopefully he can take another step forward.

"He's not done much serious work since Dubai, we've just kept him ticking over. We've been very happy with everything and we're all looking forward to the race."

Ryan Moore will ride Mendelssohn, who has won four of his five races with Moore in the saddle, including on his previous appearance in the States, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.

Market rival Justify did not run as a two-year-old but has won all three starts this year, notably the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby last month.

Baffert, speaking after the draw, said: "I was happy with seven. I wanted 16. I wanted to be in the middle or outside but we didn't want the one hole. I was relieved when I saw him in seven.

"The break is so important so when you are in seven you had better break. When you are in the 16 you have a chance. I always love the 16."

Of other leading fancies, Magnum Moon drew the 16 stall, with Audible in five, Good Magic in six and Santa Anita Derby runner-up Bolt D'Oro in 11.

Ryan Moore to ride Mendelssohn in Kentucky Derby says Aidan O'Brien



It is obviously a very different culture and a new experience for us all but to have a horse going over there with a chance is great
E.W. Terms
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