10/29/2017 5:09PM

Breeders' Cup Mile contenders Ribchester, Suedois settle in

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Coady Photography/Keeneland
Suedois wins the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The young man on the backstretch viewing stand next to the Del Mar racing oval had a question for several passersby, both on foot and horseback, late during training hours Sunday: “How is the turf?”

Soon it became clear why. This was Billy Garrity, who traveled from England for his boss, trainer Richard Fahey, to help oversee the preparation of Ribchester for the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Sands of Mali for the BC Juvenile Turf.

Ribchester, a four-time Group 1 winner and one of the favorites for the BC Mile, is by many, many lengths the bigger draw of the duo, with Sands of Mali a price shot in the Juvenile Turf. And Ribchester’s fans will be pleased to hear Garrity talk about the colt’s ship from England to California.

“He traveled great, drank plenty of water when they got here, and he’s eaten everything, so we’re very pleased with it,” Garrity said. “He’s very fresh, ready to go.”

Ribchester won’t train until Tuesday, and when he does, Garrity will be on his back for the first time. John Murphy, Ribchester’s regular exercise rider, has stayed back in England at Fahey’s yard.

“John Murphy has done a great job with him. He can be a little bit keen, but John has really settled him down,” said Garrity. “I’ve worked horses against him, so I know what he’s like. Just be calm, relax on him. As soon as you relax, he relaxes.”

Suedois, who has a serious Mile chance at a longer price than Ribchester, was reported to have taken his second trip this fall from England to America in good order.

“I had him out this morning, and he was kicking and bucking and squealing,” said Fearghal Davis, assistant to trainer David O’Meara. “I couldn’t be happier with him.’

Suedois won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in his most recent start, and Davis was at Keeneland in 2015 when the O’Meara-trained Mondialiste finished a troubled second to Tepin in the BC Mile. Mondialiste, who has since been retired to stud, finished fourth behind Suedois and two more BC Mile starters, Heart to Heart and Ballagh Rocks, in the Shadwell.

“They’re completely different, Suedois and Mondialiste,” Davis said. “Mondialiste is a real keen-going sort at home, while Suedois is the complete opposite. Suedois, you’re always having to be keeping him into his work. Mondialiste, in his races it was always very important to make sure to jump out of the gate and then get him switched off, where with Suedois, he’s just so uncomplicated. You jump out and he just drops it and does exactly what you want, and when you want him to come alive, you give him a little squeeze, and away he goes.”