10/26/2010 2:18PM

Head Reveals Inside Story on Goldikova


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.



BarryIrwin More than 1 year ago
Great piece. Very interesting and informative. I saw her last race. They only let her run about 50 meters. Looked like they were saving her for the BC.
John More than 1 year ago
Alan, On May 23 Goldikova wins the Longchamp in stakes record time. Then on June 15th she wins the Queen Anne stakes in near record time, but in the June 20th release of the World Thoroughbred Rankings she is ranked 8th along with Twice Over and Eskendereya, well behind Zenyatta whom is ranked 3rd. Since then she has won August 1st Prix Rothschild, second to Makfi in the Prix Jacques le Marois two weeks later, and on October 3rd wins the Prix de la Foret over Dick Turpin and Paco Boy, and yet both of those horses are ranked together with Goldikova in 11th place. Why is she ranked so low by the World Thoroughbred Rankings this year?
don mcd More than 1 year ago
Goldikova will have to be really great to win a third time at the BC Mile. It is worth repeating, as Freddie Head said, that when these horses run, it is not just a wager, it is a near miracle athletic event, a la Secretariat's Belmont. We are amazingly lucky to be living through the campaigns of Goldikova and Zenyatta at the same time, not to mention Gio Ponti and a few others who have recently campaigned beyond their three year old year. They may not be the greatest horses in the last hundred years, but they are very, very good; and it is a good time to be alive. I will be in Louisville the first weekend of November, and I look forward to seeing a real horse-of-the-year.
SecretTriple More than 1 year ago
I agree with Mr. Head, she is a very special mare ! I am quite surprised the connections for Gio Ponte would shorten him up, and face her at her best . I thought his Classic performance last yr. was great, considering he is a Turf horse. I would have loved too see him try the Classic again, and if not there, the Turf for sure. I don't think the distance would have bothered him. I do have too say, his last race was very impressive, and I gave him more of a shot than most, based on what was being said before that effort. He played with that field, and his explosive move will have him and Goldikova in a great finish, my exacta for sure.
Art Spalding More than 1 year ago
Goldikova is phenomenal...she has taken on the boys for 3 years and dominated. A mare that no matter the results of this BC Mile, she is first ballot Hall of Fame. I hope she draws well and feels like running November 6th!! Great article Alan!
David H. More than 1 year ago
I'm a relatively new owner, and I bought my first filly (a 2YO by Sharp Humor) at Fasig-Tipton's 2-year-old-in-training-sale at Timonium (EASMAY10). She's been in training for 5+ months now in my barn, and it's been real surprising to me just how unfriendly she is. I'm used to more outgoing geldings, and so it's been a surprise that every time I go visit her and scratch her head or neck or offer her carrots or peppermints, she tolerates me for about 2 minutes before biting me. Every time. So to read Freddie Head say: "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." ... makes me feel a lot better *laugh*
suzanne More than 1 year ago
I can't wait to see her again- only 10 days! We know she'll want firm ground- I hope you will be able to give us an idea of preferred ground for the rest of the over-the-pond contingent.