10/19/2011 12:44PM

Breeders' Cup: McNairs' lone runner, Elusive Kate, may go favored in Juvenile Fillies Turf


Bob and Janice McNair will make a Breeders’ Cup appearance next month with the lone horse they have racing, Elusive Kate. She will be shipping in from England for the Grade 2, $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

The McNairs had a large racing presence up until 2008, when they sold their Stonerside Stable operation to Darley. The private transaction included a group of 170 broodmares, weanlings, and yearlings, 80 horses in training, and three properties. The couple, who own the National Football League franchise the Houston Texans, did keep a few stallions they had raced, including Bob and John, Congaree, and Cowboy Cal, their most recent Breeders’ Cup starter in 2009.

“We had a big operation before, with farms, a lot of employees and a lot of horses,” said Bob McNair. “It was a good-sized little business, more than I could keep up with along with the football, which is a sizeable business, and I have other businesses, too.”

McNair, 74, has built the Houston Texans into a successful franchise, and this weekend the team will attempt to take sole possession of first place in their division when they play the Tennessee Titans.

Elusive Kate is also a divisional leader. She is the top-ranked 2-year-old filly in France for three straight stakes wins in that country, capped by the Group 1, $401,600 Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on Oct. 2. She set the pace in the about one-mile race, then withstood stretch challenges while drifting well off the rail to the center of the track. Nearing the wire, Elusive Kate quickened again in a dominant performance for which she earned a career-high Racing Post rating of 115.

“She won emphatically, won by three lengths,” said John Gosden, who trains Elusive Kate. “I get the feeling she’d be very happy going left-handed in America.”

Elusive Kate, a Newmarket-based runner who is co-owned by Gosden’s wife, Rachel Hood, should vie for favoritism in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. She is to be ridden by William Buick, who was aboard for the Boussac. Gosden said Elusive Kate is scheduled to ship the weekend before the Breeders’ Cup.

“Mr. and Mrs. McNair have not been able to get to Europe to see her run,” he said. “I thought we’d bring her to Churchill Downs, and the race is on the Friday, before the football game on Sunday.”

Elusive Kate will be seeking to give the McNairs their second Breeders’ Cup win as owners. The couple had an interest in War Chant when he won the Mile in 2000. As breeders, the McNairs realized a Breeders’ Cup double in 2008, with Raven’s Pass in the Classic and Midshipman in the Juvenile. Both horses won for Darley interests not long after the couple sold Stonerside.

Elusive Kate was an auction purchase, for $70,000 at Keeneland in 2010. She is a daughter of Elusive Quality, while her dam, Gout de Terroir, is a half-sister to 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect. Elusive Kate, who will likely be sold at Fasig-Tipton on Nov. 6, is one of five young horses the McNairs have alone or in partnership.

“Of the five, two are yearlings,” said Bob McNair.

One of the yearlings will be trained by Gosden, who also has an unraced 2-year-old colt for the McNairs. The other yearling will go to Bob Baffert, who also has a 2-year-old for the couple. At the moment, Elusive Kate is the lone color-bearer for the McNairs’s stable, which is listed as Magnolia Racing.

“It’s been really exciting,” McNair said. “We’ve raced a lot of horses and know how hard it is to win these races, and to have one horse racing who’s done what she’s done…it’s just fantastic.”

◗ Alaura Michele, who won the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga in August, will not start in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, said her trainer, Bill Mott. Alaura Michele last raced on Oct. 2, and finished sixth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park.

“She’s going on vacation,” Mott said. “She’s going to have a couple of months off.”

New Wave, the runner-up in the P.G. Johnson, also will not advance to the Juvenile Fillies Turf, according to her trainer, Rusty Arnold.

◗ Emerald Gold and Mystic Mama, both of whom have placed in recent turf stakes between New York and Kentucky, will not run in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, said their respective trainers, Tom Proctor and Derek Ryan.