Washington DC in the right state to make a bold bid for glory
9.05 Santa Anita
Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint | Grade 1 | 3yo+ | 6f | ATR
Aidan O'Brien made no secret of his enthusiasm for Turf Sprint contender Washington DC when discussing his "grand little hardy horse" at Santa Anita this week.
The Abbaye runner-up is 6-1 favourite for the race over the track's downhill sprint course, which runs into a right-hand turn in effect reversing the draw bias, with outside stalls considered positive. Washington DC will break from gate eight.
Last year's winner Mongolian Saturday returns for another crack at the race after a largely fruitless campaign, albeit an ambitious one that has taken him to Hong Kong, Ascot and Newmarket. On his latest start, back in Keeneland, he returned to winning ways with a half-length Grade 3 win.
The Wesley Ward-trained Undrafted won the 2015 Diamond Jubilee but has yet to recapture that form and was sixth behind Mongolian Saturday in that Keeneland Grade 3 last time.
European representation is also provided by the Francis Graffard-trained Karar and Hugo Palmer-trained Home Of The Brave, but David O'Meara's Suedois was a late scratching on Thursday after suffering a stress fracture in his near-fore foot.
Track specialists required?
Local wisdom suggests track experience is vital in this race and just one runner, Ambitious Brew, has tasted victory on the track. He was three lengths down in seventh in this race when it was last held here in 2014.
What they say
Hugo Palmer, trainer of Home Of The Brave
He shipped over great and I couldn't be happier with him. We elected to go for the Turf Sprint over the Mile because he's closer to top-rated in this and if he runs bang to his mark he's got a chance of being there at the wire. You don't know how you'll cope on the track until you try but, just looking at it, it doesn't seem more of a worry than the track at Newmarket. This has been the target since Newbury [in August] and he's had a trouble-free preparation.
Running around a turn, and also the speed of a race like this, will suit him. I'm quite confident in the horse, who goes there in top form. Looking back at his last run, he gives a lot in his races and I'd hate to see him really tiring in the straight over in the Mile.
Kevin Attard, trainer of Calgary Cat
We're a longshot but I'm confident in my horse and don't think he'll disgrace himself. I wouldn't have brought him here if I didn't think we had a chance.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Washington DC
I'm looking forward to him as there's no pressure with him, he's a very fast horse and he's getting better. He'll be coming from the back and he'll need luck but he's a grand little hardy horse who is slowly progressing. It'll be interesting, they'll go hard.
Gary Stevens, rider of Om
Even though Om has never run the down hillside turf course, his running style suits this layout extremely well from my past experiences. I love his post position . There are two horses with similar styles on either side of him in Ambitious Brew and Holy Lute, but I always love drawing towards the outside coming down the hill. I've won a lot of races from up there.
Brad Cox, trainer of Green Mask
He's a difficult horse to ride, but Julien [Leparoux] has ridden him before, which is good. He's always right there, and that's what we expect on Saturday.