10/26/2010 2:18PM

Head Reveals Inside Story on Goldikova

Email

Freddie Head was in winning form at Chantilly on Tuesday when he hosted a media day expressly to inform the world about Goldikova's preparation for a third successive assault on the Breeders' Cup Mile.
"Goldikova's work has been good and she seems in great form," Head said, using typical traierspeak to describe her condition. This came two days before the 5-year-old daughter of Anabaa will have her last major work at Chantilly on Thursday. She will be loaded onto a plane on Saturday for the 12-hour journey to Louisville with a stop at Stanstead Airport in England. "She is a very good traveler and does not sweat much," Head assured her prospective backers.
Indeed, Goldikova is 4-for-4 as a shipper, having won the last two Breeders' Cup Miles at Santa Anita after a 5,660-mile journey, the 2009 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, and this year's Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot. By contrast, her record in France is a more modest 10-for-16. For the record, it is 4,236 miles from Paris to Louisville.
Head, like all European trainers with a horse in this Breeders' Cup, will welcome the cooler tempeartures at Churchill Downs. He is also relived to hear that Louisville has been experiencing dry weather of late, conditions which are expected to hold through the eve of the big weekend. Forecasters are predicting sunny weather in the region with highs between 60 and 70 degrees.
But he cautioned, "I don't want too much rain." The only dull effort Goldikova ever threw in came in May 2009 when soft ground held her back in seventh in the Prix d'Ispahan. She also lacked her characteristic acceleration on soft ground when second in the Prix Jacques Le Marois in August, yet won the Prix de la Foret on very soft ground at Longchamp on Oct. 3. That effort, along with her record setting victory in this year's Prix d'Ispahan at 1 1/8 miles, 55 yards, is a testament to her versatility.
The trainer had some interesting things to say concerning the reasons for Goldikova's American successes.
"She is very fast, she loves the speed," he said. "There is no doubt that is why she is so brilliant in the States, because they start fast which we do not do here, where the gate opens and everybody stops and holds back. The faster they go, the better she is, and firm ground is good for her."
Head revealed that he was worried last year when Goldikova drew the wide outside in a field of 11 in the Mile.
"The draw is going to be important in America. I don't want her to be drawn on the outside again. It will be up to Olivier (Peslier) how he rides the race. You have to let jockeys do what they want," said the former French champion rider who rode Miesque to Breeders' Cup Mile victories in 1987 and 1988.
Head picked Paco Boy, Gio Ponti and Proviso as Goldikova's main rivals in the Mile, selecting Gio Ponti as "the one to beat, this year, I suppose- he is a very good horse."
Noting that Goldikova has improved with age, Head offered some insight into her private life.
"She is a bit funny in her box," he said. "You cannot pat her. She can come at you biting, and she can kick if she does not like you, but she has had the same groom throughout and he can do anything with her."
"To watch her in the morning and in the afternoon, she gives exactly the same. Cantering she is always free with a beautiful action. She is a dream to train. You can do whatever you want with a horse like that."
Leading Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has lowered Goldikova to 10-11 as the their Mile favorite with Paco Boy at 9-2, Gio Ponti 6-1, Proviso 9-1 and Sidney's Candy 10-1. That's not much of a price, but remember...Goldikova's last two Breeders' Cup Mile performances transcended mere betting. There is something about a horse like her- or like Secretariat or Dubai Millennium- that puts matters into perspective.