10/29/2013 11:39AM

Breeders' Cup: Willie Carson hoping to make new memories with Chriselliam

Breeders' Cup Photo
Dayjur (left) jumped a shadow near the wire while seemingly on his way to victory in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Sprint, handing the race to Safely Kept. Willie Carson rode Dayjur that day, and 23 years later will try to get an elusive Breeders' Cup win as part-owner of Chriselliam.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Few people have had as diverse a life in racing as Willie Carson.

Carson, 71 was the champion jockey in Britain five times from 1971 to 1983. He bred Minster Son, the winner of the 1988 English St. Leger, and was a commentator on the BBC’S television racing coverage until last year.

Carson also is a part-owner of Chriselliam, who starts in Friday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, fresh from a win in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket on Sept. 27.

If Chriselliam wins the one-mile Juvenile Fillies Turf, it would be Carson’s first success in a Breeders’ Cup race. Furthermore, a win could soften the painful memory of one of the toughest days of Carson’s riding career. He rode Dayjur at Belmont Park on Oct. 27, 1990, when the English star sprinter jumped shadows twice in the final 40 yards and lost the BC Sprint by a neck to the filly Safely Kept. Dayjur was the 2-1 favorite.

“It was very disappointing at the time,” Carson recalled in a phone conversation last weekend. “It was devastating.

“The fastest horse – one of the fastest sprinters that’s ever been – got collared because of a shadow. He didn’t get beat by another horse. He got beat by a shadow.”

Dayjur, who had won five consecutive starts prior to the 1990 BC Sprint, was retired following that race. He went to stud in 1991. In September, Dayjur died at Shadwell Farms in Kentucky at the age of 26.

“He was a brilliant sprinter, but he wasn’t a brilliant stallion,” Carson said.

After the loss in the 1990 BC Sprint, Carson rode six more years before he was injured in a paddock accident at Newbury in September 1996. He did not ride again. The winner of the English Derby on four occasions, Carson announced his retirement the following March, ending his career winless with three Breeders’ Cup mounts.

A familiar figure in British racing, Carson became a fixture on BBC’s racing programs, notably at Royal Ascot. He even appeared on a British reality show in 2011. These days, Carson remains deeply involved in racing, operating a stallion farm in Cirencester, England.

Chriselliam, trained by Charles Hills, was purchased for approximately $64,000 at the 2012 Tattersalls yearling sale in England. She became a candidate for the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf with her 28-1 upset win in the Fillies’ Mile, beating Rizeena, a winner at Royal Ascot and a Group 1 winner in Ireland earlier this year.

The win in the Fillies’ Mile, under reigning champion jockey Richard Hughes, was the sort of performance Carson and partners Emily Asprey and Chris Wright expected from Chriselliam through the year.

“She finally did on the track what she did at home,” Carson said. “Richard Hughes gave her a lot to do and rode her very confidently. She was a like a Concorde in the last furlong.”

Chriselliam has never raced on an American-style turf course, with one-mile races around two turns and a shorter stretch than a European racecourse. In five career starts beginning at the end of May, she has raced on straight courses or on left-handed courses with one bend. Chriselliam has two wins and has earned $179,684.

“She’s got speed,” Carson said. “We’re hoping. It’s a bit of the unknown going around Santa Anita for any European. You’re always taking on that she’ll be able to handle the turns, the American style of racing. We think we’ve got a filly that can do that with her turn of foot.”

A win by Chriselliam would be Carson’s first major stakes win in American racing. Any sort of successful race by Chriselliam would set a positive tone for 2014. Chriselliam is a contender for the English 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 4. It is a race Carson knows well. He won it twice as a jockey.