Limato to target Mile after connections rule out Turf Sprint
Limato's Breeders' Cup target was finalised yesterday when connections committed him to a clash with defending champion Tepin in the Mile at Santa Anita.
Owner Paul Jacobs and trainer Henry Candy gave themselves one less option to deliberate over by not making an entry for the July Cup and Prix de la Foret winner in the Turf Sprint at yesterday's pre-entry deadline.
But as he completed arrangements for Limato's first trip overseas by air, Jacobs said the decision that was causing most difficulty was whether to run the horse on Lasix, the anti-bleeding medication on which many of his rivals will be competing.
His preference was to race Limato without the drug, which prohibited as raceday medication in Britain, but he has until next Monday's final declaration to confirm the decision.
Limato, likely to be Britain's best chance of a winner at the November 4-5 fixture, was favourite with British bookmakers for the Turf Sprint over a trip he is more accustomed to and could have been entered at no extra cost. He has run only once at a mile when finishing fourth in the Lockinge Stakes in May.
"We decided we would make the one entry," said Jacobs. "We'd rather have the certainty now than spending the next week with everything that has to be done at the back of our minds saying 'Should we be going for that?'.
"Obviously the Mile will be a more competitive race as you would expect but given everything that's involved we thought quite frankly we would go for broke on that score."
Preparations have been thorough ahead of what will be a new experience for horse, owner, trainer and jockey Harry Bentley.
Candy's team at home will try to ensure Limato is ready for the California climate, while Bentley is expected to head out early to get to know the surroundings.
"One of our major concerns has been the weather because it has been pretty cold," said Jacobs.
"We are doing all we can to keep him at the right warm temperature, but without sweating, and getting it in such a way that he takes the flight okay and makes the transition to a warmer day temperature when he gets over there.
"We are probably going to be clipping him out today and putting him in one of those equine head-to-tail duvets."
Jacobs said he was wrestling with the Lasix issue after a former trainer with experience of running a filly at the event without Lasix bled, having never done so before, suggested smog could have been a factor.
"It's a very difficult one," he said. "It's not just a question of a horse having inherited bleeding problems but also I've been told if you go into areas where there is smog that can affect the airways and around Pasadena you can get bad smog and he will be there training and being in that atmosphere for that week.
"At the moment I think our inclination is to run clean because quite frankly it seems better and we would be happier without. We have exactly one week to decide. It's the most difficult choice of anything to do with the trip. It's one I would rather not have."
Sir Michael Stoute will try to win the Breeders' Cup Turf for the fifth time after Ulysses, winner of the Group 3 Gordon Stakes, was included among the pre-entries for the race. Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride.
He will give owners Flaxman Stables, which also has Erupt, two chances in the race. "He likes the fast ground and he would be a fresh horse going into the race," said racing manager Alan Cooper.