Beethoven – Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith’s Desmond Stakes winner Beethoven went to the track for an easy canter once around on the dirt and came back “doing really well,” according to trainer Aidan O’Brien’s head lad Pat Keating.
O’Brien has remained in Ireland, missing his first Breeders’ Cup because he has family commitments that have prevented him from coming to Louisville.
Court Vision – Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. took solid cracks at the champion Goldikova in each of the last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, finishing second in 2008 with Kip Deville and fourth with Court Vision last year. Dutrow takes another shot with Court Vision this year, but knows he’s fighting an uphill battle.
“She’s been a mare for the ages, no doubt about it,” Dutrow said of Goldikova. “For a rival trainer, I’ve got so much respect for Goldikova. She’s truly great. “
Court Vision drew post four of 11 for Saturday’s race.
“I’m hoping he can save ground on both turns and show up like he always does,” Dutrow said. “He should have enough kick to run down a lot of those horses.”
Delegator – Under the direction of Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor, the Dansili colt exercised on the turf course Friday morning.
“He was fine out there,” bin Suroor said. “He’s sound, happy and healthy. No problems. He is ready.”
“I like him a lot. He’s doing well,” bin Suroor added. “He is a big and heavy horse. In the race, I’d like to see him somewhere close in a nice position. That’s what he likes to do. He has a good turn of foot.”
Get Stormy – Trainer Tom Bush had the 4yo colt jog on the main track Friday morning to keep him sharp for the Mile.
“We’ve had this race on our mind all year, since he won (the Commonwealth Turf) here as a 3-year-old,” Bush said. “We gave him plenty of time off last winter and he came back very strongly and ran well off the long layoff. He won the Fourstardave and the Bernard Baruch back to back, so we felt like he deserved a chance.
“We didn’t get the trip we were hoping to get (when fourth) in the Shadwell (Mile) and we may not have beaten Gio Ponti no matter what that day, but I think we probably could have been second if we rode him a little bit differently.”
Gio Ponti – While he has a Saturday date with back-to-back champion Goldikova in the Mile, it is unknown what the post-Breeders’ Cup plans are for dual Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti.
“I have no clue. We have not made that decision and will not make it until after the race,” Stuart Fitzgibbon, the commercial director for Castleton Lyons said on Friday. “It was only this past Monday that we made the decision to run him in the Mile against Goldikova instead of in the Classic against Zenyatta. We are taking things one step at a time.”
Gio Ponti, second to Zenyatta in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic and seventh in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after a terrible trip on very soft footing, has earned close to $4.7 million for Castleton Lyons while under the tutelage of trainer Christophe Clement.
“One thing we know for sure is that when he does finish on the racetrack, he will be coming home and be retired here to begin his next career at Castleton Lyons and we are very much looking forward to that,” Fitzgibbon said.
“He is a fantastic racehorse and is a very special horse to us. He’s a homebred. Our guys took care of him when he was a yearling. He was put into a couple of sales but it didn’t work out and we are so thankful that we got to keep him.
“He’s been with us since day one and has given us so many wonderful moments running in our colors. He has always been a great delight to (owner) Shane Ryan, and he is a credit to the entire staff here. When he went to Christophe he had the benefit of a solid upbringing and Christophe has done a great job of training him.”
Gio Ponti galloped 1 1/4 m and went to the gate on Friday morning before the break. Clement will arrive on Friday afternoon to supervise the final preparations for Gio Ponti and Turf contender Winchester.
Goldikova – The 5yo mare, who is poised to make history Saturday when she seeks her third straight Mile victory, cantered on the main track Friday morning under the watchful eye of trainer Freddie Head, who was aboard a pony. According to the trainer, Goldikova is at her peak for her record run.
“I can’t have her better than she is,” Head said. “Everything is perfect for the moment. She should handle this track well because she handled the short turns the last two years.
“But of course,” Head added, “you always need a bit of luck.”
Head, who rode Miesque to back-to-back wins in the Mile in the 1980s, went to a farm near Lexington on Thursday to visit his old partner, now 26.
“She’s older of course,” he said, “but she looks well, and it was a joy to see her.”
Paco Boy – No introduction will be necessary when Paco Boy faces two-time Mile winner Goldikova Saturday afternoon. The race will mark the fifth meeting of the two European milers, with Goldikova finishing in front the four previous times
Assistant trainer Richard Hannon Jr. went right to Goldikova when analyzing the race.
“Obviously, we’ve got the filly to beat,” Hannon Jr. said. “Why can’t we beat her? She’s drawn not very well this year (post 10), which is probably to our favor, and we’ve drawn quite well (post 6),” Hannon Jr. said. “Every time we’ve been beaten by her this year, we’ve had excuses.
“The first time in Deauville (Prix Jacques Le Marois), the ground was very soft and he didn’t get the trip. Then we went to Paris (Prix de la Foret at Longchamp) and we were just drawn terrible. We came from a different county that day and we just touched off. At Royal Ascot (Queen Anne Stakes), we may have given her a little bit too much air space.
“This time we’re going to keep a close eye on her, and the form book says we’ll probably be second. But my horse is a very tough horse, very hard to beat, and he deserves one.”
Proviso – A female has won the Mile race five times, including two-time defending champ and morning-line favorite Goldikova, and Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott would like nothing more than to add her name to the list.
“I think she’s got a good shot,” Mott said after sending the talented 5yo mare out for a Friday morning gallop over the main track at Churchill Downs. “We know it’s a tall task, but she deserves a chance. She’s won four Grade 1’s in a row.”
Mott said he believes there will be sufficient speed in the race to set it up for his closer, who will be making her first start on this grass course.
“ Sidney ’s Candy and Tom Bush’s horse (Get Stormy) will be out there,” Mott said. “We’ll be somewhere behind them. Then it’s just a matter of whether she’s good enough or not.”
“I’m pretty excited to be riding her,” jockey Mike Smith said. “She always shows up.”
Sidney's Candy – The 3yo colt was out early at Churchill Downs Friday for a 1 1/2 m gallop around the track with exercise rider Jose Alferez.
Society's Chairman – The 7yo – most senior competitor entered in the Mile – kept busy Friday morning as he jogged 6f, galloped 1 1/4 m and “did a lot of walking,” according to trainer Roger Attfield.
The son of Not Impossible, owned by Charles Fipke and George Waud, ran second behind Mile rival Gio Ponti last out in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.
Julien Leparoux, who was aboard in the Keeneland race, has the mount again Saturday.
The Usual Q. T. – Trainer Jim Cassidy expects the usual running style from The Usual Q.T. in Saturday’s Mile. According to Cassidy, the 4yo gelding’s normal form calls for an up-close early style and a strong finish, and that’s the way he thinks the Saturday race will unfold.
In his most recent start, the Woodbine Mile, the son of Unusual Heat uncharacteristically fell far behind on the Woodbine turf due mostly to traffic problems. The gelding kicked in to make the lead in late stretch before being outkicked to the wire and finishing second to Court Vision.