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Hannon Will Watch Paco Boy from Afar
Richard Hannon has had a year most trainers only dream of. The 65-year-old conditioner dominated the summer 2-year-old scene in England as five of his juveniles- King Torus, Libranno, Zebedee, Strong Suit and the filly Memory- won eight group races. More importantly, he has three of Europe's best milers in his Marlborough, Wiltshire yard in Paco Boy, Canford Cliffs and Dick Turpin.
All three are Group 1 winners. Canford Cliffs has won the Irish 2000 Guineas, the St. James's Palce Stakes and the Sussex Stakes. Dick Turpin beat Canford Cliffs in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes, then finished second in the 2000 Guineas, the French 2000 and the St. James's Palace before winning the Prix Jean Prat. Hannon's Breeders' Cup Mile hopeful, Paco Boy, won the Group 2 Sandown Mile and the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, since when he has finished behind Goldikova three times, among them narrow losses in the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes and the 7-furlong Prix de la Foret.
Paco Boy, who also finished third in the Prix Jacques Le Marois in which Goldikova was second, will try the Freddie Head-trained mare again in the Mile on Nov. 6, but Hannon will not be there to see him run.
"America is not for me," he proclaimed to the Racing Post this week. "I tired it twice and didn't like the place, so I will leave it to my son Richard, Jr., and Richard Hughes (his jockey) to bring home a fistful of dollars."
Hannon's antipathy for the Land of the Free stems from some unpleasant experiences in Breeders' Cups past. In 1991 his two-time Group 2 winning 2-year-old Showbrook finished last of 14 behind Arazi in the Juvenile at Churchill Downs. A year later disaster struck at Gulfstream Park when his when his July Cup and Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp winner Mr Brooks broke down and died in the Sprint.
Hannon tried the Sprint again in 1993 at Santa Anita but to no avail when his Prix du Gros-Chene winner Surprise Offer came home tenth.
And so Paco Boy will be saddled by Richard Hannon, Jr. next Saturday. The 5-year-old son of Desert Style possesses an acceleration nearly as powerful as Goldikova and should benefit by the anticipated fast early pace of the Mile. Whether that will be enough to finally finish ahead of Goldikova remains to be seen.
Hannon, Jr. will also saddle the Tale of the Cat filly Tale Untold in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Not as accomplished as the trainer's summer wonder 2-year-olds,Tale Untold is a half sister to I'm In Love, the winner of an ungraded stake going 1 1/16 miles at Delaware Park and the runner-up in Belmont's 1 1/16-mile Athenia Handicap on turf. A 5-length maiden winner going 6 furlongs on the Kempton Polytrack in her debut, Tale Untold was a game nose second in her last two starts in valuable sales races at Newmarket and should appreciate the added distance at Churchill Downs.
*The Aga Khan is no stranger to the Breeders' Cup Turf, having won Hollywood Park's inaugural running in 1984 with Lashkari, then scoring a second success 16 years later at Churchill Downs with Kalanisi. He has had six other runners in the Turf, the best of them Azamour who was third at Belmont in 2005. This year, the Aga's green and red colors will be carried in the Turf by the highly regarded Behkabad.
Lashkari and Kalanisi both came into the Turf off victories, but neither of them was in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Lashkari prepped with a win in Longchamp's 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris, a race regarded as something of an Arc consolation prize. Kalanisi had previously won Newmarket's Champion Stakes, a contest that rates as one of the world's most important 10-furlong events.
Behkabad, however, arrives at Churchill Downs directly from the Arc, in which he finished an unlucky fourth behind Workforce after a troubled trip. He will run into Workforce again in the Turf but will have history on his side in his effort to take revenge on the Michael Stoute trainee.
No Arc winner, like Workforce, has ever won the Turf, but seven Arc losers, like Behkabad, have won the Turf. With a clear run that he should get in a skimpy 8-horse field, Behkabad is capable of reversing the Arc form next Saturday.
*The unknown and unheard of Murjan quietly slipped into the pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. A Kentucky-bred son of the South Korea-bound stallion Officer out a Tabasco Cat mare, his second dam is a half sister to Grade 3 Sapling Stakes winner Silent Valor. He hails from the family of Grade 2 Distaff and Bed o' Roses winner Nannerl. Sold at Keeneland as a weanling for $9,000, he was sent to Peru where he was 3-for-3 on dirt at Monterrico under the care of Juan Juarez, winning his first two starts by a combined 26 1/4 lengths and then taking the one-mile Peruvian 2000 Guineas last time on Sept. 19 against Southern Hemisphere 3-year-olds.
Purchased privately by Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton, Murjan will be saddled by Darren Miller, whose only previous Cup starter was Great Notion, the eleventh-place finisher in the 2003 Sprint. While Murjan sports a fine record in Peru, most imports- or, to term it properly, re-imports- from that country fare poorly in America, Bowling Green winner and Breeders' Cup Turf hopeful Al Khali being the exception that proves the rule.
*The great broodmare Hasili has produced two Breeders' Cup winners in Banks Hill and Intercontinental, both successful in Filly & Mare Turfs at Belmont Park. Hasili will be unrepresented at this year's Cup but we could soon be seeing her latest European stakes winner on these shores.
Deluxe, a 3-year-old Storm Cat filly currently with Andre Fabre, disappointed on Tuesday when finishing only ninth of 13 in the 1 5/16-mile, Group 3 Prix de Flroe at Saint-Cloud, where the very soft ground was not in her favor. All of the Hasilis prefer firm ground and that is one of the prime reasons virtually all of them wind up in America.
The Prix de Flore was won by the Aga Khan's Valasyra, whom Deluxe had beaten in her previous start by a head when winning the listed 1 5/16-mile Prix de Liancourt at Longchamp on good gorund on Sept. 1. Deluxe had previously finished second to Sarafina in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary. Since then she finished fourth in the 1 5/16-mile Prix de Diane, or French Oaks, behind Sarafina, who has since finished third in the Arc, one place in front of Behkabad.
Owned like all of the Hasilis by Khalid Abdullah, it is a good bet that Deluxe could soon find herself under the care of Juddmonte's main American trainer, Bill Mott.
I disagree with Alan when he says that re-imports- from Peru fare poorly in America. Besides Al Khali, Peruvian raced and U.S. re-imports Natalie Too, Batuka, Spend One Dolar, Camiunch, and Peruvian-breds Tolita and Pisistrato, were all stakes winners in North America to term it properly as well.
Seconding previous commenter Rick in thanking you for your insights on the Euro information as we all scramble to put things together here. I have only been able to see Goldikova's Foret win once as the wankers at Youtube are continually taking it down due to copyright challenges. I was surprised to see her on the front glued to the rail although her versatility is well known. The English announcer I heard clearly called "Goldikova is beaten today" as she was passed before being taken off the fence to re-rally. I was very impressed with Paco Boy's close and am now more confused than ever as to whether Goldikova spent too much in the win or her jock is that cool a customer that he saved more than I think. Luckily viewing the Arc is always easy. After several watches I came away impressed with Workforce, but more amazed at how the field seemed to part like the Red Sea as he launched his move. Having been attached to the rail I wonder if he would have gotten his pink cap out if not for the very favorable trip. I haven't been able to see the really tough trip that Bekhbad is supposed to have endured although he had far from clear sailing. Looking forward to as much of your expertise as you care to share with us as BC races draw closer.
Hope people are reading this Alan, where else could a person find such a complete (in such a short take) synopsis of some of the top Euro contenders. Kudos and thanks from me Alan.