Fall-out from the post position draw
Kate Miller is settling into life in California ahead of the Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita Park and it seems nothing is going to stop her as she gives you her take of events leading up to the two day festival.
Here's her latest update...
"I've annoyingly developed a cold since last blogging. One of those sniffly numbers that you seem to get you when you fly. Desperate to not let it reduce the pace I stopped by the chemist after the draw yesterday to buy some cold tablets. Upon reaching the checkout I was bizarrely asked to produce my driving licence. Apparently here in the States you can use over the counter medicines to produce illegal substances. Anxious about any repercussions I quickly ramped up the coughing and spluttering, surreptitiously removed my 'I heart Andre Agassi' badge and managed to leave unchallenged. Another lesson learnt after the experiences at the post position draw lunch.
It was quite an interesting few hours. The Americans really do things with style and after a huge fanfare the new Breeders' Cup trophies were unveiled by Greg Avioli the Chief Exec of Breeders' Cup. Steuben Glass appears to be the sponsor of the trophies, and their spokesman was quick to highlight a tenuous parallel between his glass and the Breeders' Cup. Stating that the 'excellence and purity of their glass' was comparable to the equine heroes running on Friday and Saturday. He seemed so earnest it was hard not to snigger so instead we politely applauded and oooed at the appropriate moment.
The draw process produced a mixed bag of results with Goldikova looking like the worst victim of the lottery process, pulling stall eleven of eleven in the Mile. Interestingly, Freddie Head is also running the six-time Group One winner with Lasix. The first time she has run under their influence. The charismatic Frenchman revealed it was to give 'Goldilocks' ''The best possible chance she can have'', also stating that the filly did not bleed in the Foret.
The tactics will prove interesting, but a glimpse at Zacinto today was enough to assure me of his wellbeing. All of Stoute's trio are glowing with health, and if looks alone could win a 'Cup they'd be shoe-ins.
I actually think the Turf is one of them most fascinating contests of Saturday. Dar Re Mi is a filly I adore and her short-head defeat to Crystal Capella was without doubt one of the greatest finishes of the season. Presious Passion could be the proverbial fly in the ointment to our home guard though. He will zoom off in front and probably go 10-15 lengths clear. His refusal to capitulate when challenged is famous, and it'll need some cool jockeyship in behind to get the fractions right.
One of the highlights of today was having an audience with Henry Cecil. HRA was in attendance for the first time today, and gave all three of his runners place chances. I am happy to admit I was completely in awe of the great man and find it amazing that he has never had a Breeders' winner. What a story it would make if he did. Of his three, Midday was another that caught the eye with a coat worthy of a L'Oreal advert. Let's hope she's worth it!
The Press Stand here at Santa Anita is situated at the end of the straight, and Johnny Murtagh will shortly commence his 'sweat run'. A circuit of the track here bedecked in hat, gloves, and black running gear. His was a little friendlier yesterday than last year apparently, where he jogged past the Press area giving two V-shaped salutes.
Although a keep-fit fanatic Johnny has unfortunately not made it onto ESPN's 'Top Ten Sexiest Breeders' Cup Jockeys'. Mike Smith took the honours where clearly his clever accessorising with Zenyatta assisted his victory. I confess I was a little surprised to see Ryan Moore in fifth place, but the local ladies assure me he's 'real cute' with an 'all-American' look. I really want to be there when one of them tries to give him a cuddle.
A lot of this morning was spent waiting around for Aidan O'Brien's briefing. His string worked on the track just after seven and I was shocked to see Rip Van Winkle lathered in sweat as they slowly cantered. There are mixed-messages about his well-being. Ballydoyle are devoted to him and Aidan said he was ''One of the most natural athletes I've ever trained''. He reportedly moved well on the track, and his feet - by hook or by crook- are just holding-up. The last time feet caused so much controversy was after the printing of the famous Sarah Ferguson toe-sucking pictures (shudder).
I'm genuinely in two minds what to think. The problems with his feet have been prominent all season, and while that didn't prevent his victories at Ascot and Goodwood, I'm conscious of the fact that the Classic will see ten Group One winners line-up together, and also that Aidan has had a not had a Breeders' Cup winner since 2003.
Fleeting Spirit landed one of my touches of the year when winning the July Cup and I'm in no hurry to abandon her here. Whilst her draw is not ideal, she'll never match the early pace of the speedball Zensational and will drop in behind early before hopefully coming with a late run. She acquitted herself really well here last year before being found out in the final half-furlong so the six-furlongs on the dirt will be ideal.
The office has seen brisk business in plenty of the races today with Pounced cut to 7-2 from 9-2 in the Juvenile Turf. A tricky race but 'Johnny G' knows exactly what is required to win here, and I really like his chances.
Both Mastery and Father Time were supported in the Marathon, and Midday had a trim to 11-4 from 3-1 in the Filly and Mare turf. Impetus is turning towards another girl with Zenyatta cut again in Saturday's big race to 3-1 from 7-2 having been a point bigger on Monday.
The Classic is without doubt one of the 'Fairytale' races of the meeting. Can Rip Van Winkle overcome his problems and claim victory? Will Zenyatta be the first filly to triumph in the race? Can Mine That Bird return to form and win again? But the one victory that will have the tears and champagne flowing in equal volumes will be a win for Twice Over. Personally, I'm hoping for Henry."