Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®
Daily Cup Update: Turf, Wednesday, Nov. 3
Al Khali – The 4yo son of Medaglia d’Oro toured the paddock and galloped
1 ¼ m Wednesday morning on the Churchill grass course for trainer Bill Mott. On Tuesday, he drew post 5 for the 1 ½ m Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“I’m good,” said trainer Bill Mott. “I’m in the middle. I don’t think any post in that race is that bad. It’s only an eight-horse field. It’s a short run to the first turn, but (post) 5 should be fine. He’s doing great.”
Al Khali was listed at odds of 10-1 behind likely post-time favorite Workforce.
“ I heard a rumor that Workforce may not run if there’s firm turf,” Mott said “I don’t think it’s that firm. It hasn’t been used. It’s not hard. I asked Garrett Gomez three or four days ago what he thought, and he said there’s a lot of give in the ground.”
Keeneland riding champ and former Churchill meet leader Julien Leparoux has the mount on Al Khali for the first time, who is 2-for-6 this season, his best win coming in the Bowling Green at Belmont Park two back. He was out of the money in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.
Behkabad – The 3yo colt was out on the main track in company with Goldikova and Plumania Wednesday morning for a light canter around the track.
Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, Behkabad will again be ridden by Christophe Lemaire, who was aboard when the son of Cape Cross won the Prix Niel in September and was fourth after a troubled trip in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last out on Oct. 3.
Behkabad, who has also won the Grand Prix de Paris and Prix de Guiche this season, is owned by H.H. Aga Khan, who won the very first Breeders’ Cup Turf with Lashkari in 1984, and won the race at Churchill Downs in 2000 with Kalanisi.
Trainer Rouget is not expected to be at Churchill Downs for the race.
Champ Pegasus – The bay colt by Kentucky Derby hero Fusaichi Pegasus was full of himself Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs just after 7:30 following his
1 ¼ m gallop under exercise rider Nestor Capataine. Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella used a lip chain to help settle the 4yo Kentucky homebred back in his stall at Barn 41, but then had nothing but good words to say about his stretch-running double stakes-winner.
“I know he’s in tough Saturday, but he thinks he’s a monster and that’s OK by me,” he said. “He can be a handful, but he’s a runner.”
Champ Pegasus won his last two starts under rider Joel Rosario and the California riding star will be back in the saddle for the 12-furlong turf mile. They’ll break from the inside post 1 in the eight-horse field, headed by European stars Workforce and Behkabad.
Dangerous Midge – Trainer Brian Meehan was on hand to pony his Turf contender Dangerous Midge for a light gallop on the dirt on Wednesday, the same bit of exercise that the 4yo had on Tuesday, going out with stablemate Mantoba.
“We have waited so long for this in mind,” Meehan said of the son of Lion Heart whose last race was a win in the Arc Trial on Sept. 17. “He showed good speed in Newbury, and so we are very excited about his chances.”
Despite Martin Dwyer being Dangerous Midge’s regular rider, Frankie Dettori will ride him in the race on Saturday, and will be aboard for his gallop on Thursday.
“Frankie has been riding him at home.”
Debussy – With assistant trainer Danny Harrap in the saddle, the Arlington Million winner cantered on the main track Wednesday morning.
Harrap oversaw the shipping from Europe on Saturday and is handling the three Breeders’ Cup runners from trainer John Gosden’s barn. Gosden was traveling from England on Wednesday and is expected to be at Churchill Downs on Thursday morning.
“Everything is fine and we’re very content,” Harrap said. “He’s eating well and training well. We couldn’t be happier.”
Debussy is owned by Princess Haya of Jordan, who is married to Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai. Princess Haya owned Raven’s Pass, the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.
Debussy, a 4yo son of Diesis, won the Huxley Stakes in May. In the Arlington Million, he came up the rail under jockey William Buick to edge Gio Ponti by a half-length. In his most recent start, Debussy finshed third, beaten 2 ½ lengths, in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket.
Telling – Telling’s rise to prominence and eventual start in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf came as somewhat of a surprise to owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong and trainer Steve Hobby, but this year they had two goals in mind – a defense of their Sword Dancer title and a return trip to Breeders’ Cup.
“From the time we left the winner’s circle after the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, it was our goal to do it again,” Hobby said.
Telling upset the 2009 Sword Dancer at 33-1, and following a third in the Turf Classic, the 6-year-old son of A. P. Indy finished last of seven in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“After the Breeders’ Cup last year, we gave him a good freshening,” Hobby said. “He had never really had that kind of break before. He made every race in the line we plotted for him. Hopefully I have a little fresher horse this time.”
Despite last year’s win in the event, Telling was dismissed at 10-1 in his Sword Dancer defense.
“He loves that place,” Hobby said of Saratoga. “I wish they’d run the Breeders’ Cup there.”
Winchester – The 5yo son of Theatrical arrived safely on a flight from New York on Tuesday evening and was out on the track first thing on Wednesday for an easy gallop once around under Christophe Lorieul, the assistant to trainer Christophe Clement.
“Perfect. Everything is perfect,” said Lorieul, who had made the same trip on the track earlier in the day with stablemate and Mile contender Gio Ponti. “Winchester worked very well last Sunday on the turf at Belmont and he will train up to the race.”
Although Winchester won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last time out on a yielding Belmont course, the lack of rain on the Churchill grass should not pose a problem. Winchester captured the Manhattan Handicap in New York on firm footing and he has finished in the money in all four of his 2010 starts on a course rated as firm.
Clement, scheduled to arrive on Friday, said he was delighted when Winchester drew post 2 because it will allow the horse to save ground in the 1 ½ m race. Winchester is owned by Diana and Bert Firestone, who also campaigned Kentucky Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk.
Workforce – Juddmonte Farms’ Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce returned to the turf course for 1m gallop on Wednesday under jockey Ryan Moore, this time with trainer Michael Stoute in attendance.
“He’s in great form right now,” said Stoute with a big smile.
Stoute walked the course with Ryan Moore, and came back with a bit more confidence in the ability of the course to soften to the degree he desires by Saturday.
“The track is in wonderful shape, and it has good cover,” he said afterward. “It’s firmer than we’d like, and there has not been enough rain. We’ll monitor it each day.”