11/01/2010 5:08PM

American racing seems to suit Breeders' Cup Turf hopeful Debussy

Barbara D. Livingston
Debussy trains Monday at Churchill Downs for a start in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Turf.

There’s a natural tendency to root for the home team, and European racing people tend to favor their own traveling overseas to face foreign competition. Thinking along those lines has Midday a sure winner of the Filly and Mare Turf, Goldikova’s stiffest BC Mile competition England-based Paco Boy, and Bekhabad or Dangerous Midge there to pick up the pieces should Workforce falter in the Turf.

Yet the Euros have a hard time embracing Debussy, though he is based in England with trainer John Gosden: his ante-post odds in the Turf range from about 9-1 to 12-1. Maybe Debussy seems a little too Americanized for them, but it’s his suitability to the game as it’s played in this country that makes him a potential upsetter in the BC Turf.

Before the Arlington Million, the book on Debussy said he wasn’t good enough, but he easily outran more highly regarded overseas shippers and out-quicked Gio Ponti to the finish. Now, the tale being told is that Debussy doesn’t have the stamina for 1 1/2-mile races. Even Gosden concedes that’s the case if the 1 1/2 miles comes on a testing European-style course. But 1 1/2 miles around three turns at Churchill Downs? That may be a different thing entirely.

“He likes turning tracks, and he likes left-handed tracks,” Gosden said Monday, reached by phone overseas. “He won at Chester, which is a seven-furlong oval, left-handed track.”

That’s exactly the configuration of the Churchill course – and don’t think Gosden doesn’t know it. Glasses had barely been lowered after the Aug. 21 Arlington Million post-race champagne toast when Gosden raised the BC Turf as a late-season goal and plans have gone off without a wrinkle, right up through Debussy’s flight this weekend to Louisville.

“He shipped in fine and did a good piece of work here on the racecourse side of Newmarket before leaving,” Gosden said.

Debussy did have a nice shine to his coat as he jogged easily around the Churchill Downs main track Monday. Debussy, the 2-year-old colt Biondetti, and Mile runner Delegator all cleared quarantine near the end of training hours Monday and were allowed out for exercise. The other 19 Euros – including those better-regarded Turf runners – are expected to be out to train Tuesday.