Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
With Giant’s Causeway beaten by a neck, Henrythenavigator a runner-up as well and Declaration of War third by a head, certainly trainer Aidan O’Brien has come close to winning a Breeders’ Cup Classic.
From the championship-leading 20 horses pre-entered by him in this year’s races, Mendelssohn is the latest chance. And O’Brien seems to think he has a good shot in the Nov. 3 race at Churchill Downs.
In speaking to Brian O’Connor of The Irish Times about his Breeders’ Cup-bound runners from Ballydoyle, O’Brien noted how Mendelssohn is different than his past Classic runners. He has long pointed to the 1 1/4-mile feature on dirt with multiple starts beforehand.
“He has started his prep, we have been happy with his three runs up to it, and we’ve been happy with him since,” O’Brien told the Irish Times.
“We think he has progressed with every run since. (Jockey) Ryan (Moore) was very happy with him on the last day.”
Mendelssohn made the switch to dirt in the UAE Derby (G2) and romped to an 18 ½-length win on a speed favoring track. Although his Kentucky Derby performance did not pan out, Mendelssohn showed he can run with top 3-year-olds when second in the Travers (G1) and third against older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) after dueling with Diversify through hot fractions.
Meanwhile, O’Brien’s European starters have shined in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, holding a record of 21: 6-2-4. This year he plans to send out Magical and Hunting Horn. Magical was also pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf but will likely contest the males – and two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) heroine Enable – in the Turf. The 3-year-old filly enters off her biggest win yet, the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (G1). She was 10th in the Arc one race earlier.
Hunting Horn will be making a return trip to the U.S. The Group 3 winner ran third in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and eighth in the Secretariat Stakes (G1). He returned to Europe to run second in the Prix-Niel (G2) and 16th in the Arc.
Also among O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup pre-entries are Gustav Klimt, Happily, I Can Fly and Clemmie (also-eligible) in the Mile; Athena and Magic Wand in the Filly & Mare Turf; Lost Treasure for the Turf Sprint, Anthony Van Dyck and Broome in the Juvenile Turf; Hermosa and Just Wonderful in the Juvenile Fillies Turf; and Sergei Prokofiev, So Perfect (second preference in the Juvenile Fillies Turf), Van Beethoven (also-eligible) and Never No More (also-eligible) in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.