11/02/2011 3:03PM

Breeders' Cup: Workouts offer clues into Euro shippers

Barbara D. Livingston
Questing was among the Europeans to arrive early and go to the track Monday.

If sheer numbers act as a guide, Europeans are in for a memorable 2011 Breeders’ Cup. Twenty-six of them are here for the Cup’s 15 races, with eight horses scheduled to run on Friday’s program, 18 on Saturday.

Most of the shippers arrived Saturday, with Aidan O’Brien – as is his habit – bringing his stock from Ireland as late as possible. O’Brien’s eight Saturday runners only arrived Tuesday and will not train until Friday.

Two horses, Meeznah and Questing, arrived early enough last Saturday to clear quarantine and train Monday, but the rest of the Oct. 29 arrivals didn’t see the track until Tuesday. A wealth of knowledge won’t be gleaned watching easy Euro exercise, but seeing horses on the track two mornings can offer some clues to how they’ve traveled and adapted, and for the most part, the Euros have looked fine.

Goldikova, the star of the show, jogged Tuesday and galloped Wednesday. She looks well. Most Euros have trained on dirt, but Sea Moon (Turf), Elusive Kate (Juvenile Fillies Turf), and Strong Suit (Mile) have only exercised on grass.

Here’s a race by race look at Friday’s European participants.

Juvenile Sprint

The filly Shumoos is the lone Euro – and don’t discount her. As a daughter of Distorted Humor she could handle dirt, and Shumoos seems to have shipped comfortably for veteran BC trainer Brian Meehan. Outside heavy favorite Secret Circle, the race came up light, and Shumoos’s group stakes form in England stamps her as a possible contender.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Japanese owner Teruya Yoshida purchased morning-line favorite Elusive Kate this week, but she races in the colors of Bob and Janice McNair’s Magnolia Racing. This is the most accomplished Euro 2-year-old here for the BC. A winner of four straight, she captured the Group 1 Marcel Boussac on the Arc undercard by three lengths, though she drifted out badly while beating only five foes. John Gosden’s 2-year-olds fared poorly in the 2010 BC, but he has past success in such races, and Elusive Kate is better than anything Gosden sent last year. Still, there are curiosities to her form. A second-start Polytrack race suggests connections might have harbored thoughts of the Juvenile Fillies on dirt. Gosden is based in England, but Elusive Kate has made her last three starts in France. She goes left-handed for the first time and appears to be trying to grow a winter coat. She hasn’t looked awful in morning training, but nothing flashy, either.

Dear Lavinia was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Elusive Kate when they met in July but finished second by three-quarters in September to French Fifteen, a recent Group 1 winner, and won her most recent race. She’s a plain-looking bay, kind of narrow and tallish. She’s only had light exercise on dirt.

Up, the O’Brien entrant, beat 12 in a last-start maiden race but looks an outsider. She’s roughly the size of a very large dog.

Juvenile Fillies

Questing, another Gosden, is lighter on accomplishment than Elusive Kate, but who knows – she might turn out to have more substance. She aired in her June debut at Newbury, then was a close second and third in a pair of seven-furlong Group 3’s, none of those races left-handed. Mixed results from her company lines. Three of the four horses to finish very near her in the two Group 3’s have come back to run poorly, but Nayarra, a half-length behind Questing in the Sept. 23 Oh So Sharp, returned to win the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Italy. Her pedigree, by Hard Spun and out of a Seeking the Gold mare, is dirt-oriented. Worth a look at anything like the 20-1 morning line, though little has been learned from easy training sessions.

Homecoming Queen is barely taller than her stablemate, Up. She appears to have improved recently, but two minor wins on soft turf does not a BC Juvenile Fillies contender make.

Filly and Mare Turf

A little surprising to see O’Brien-trained Misty for Me launch into a decent-paced gallop Tuesday, her first morning on the track. She’s no giant either but is well proportioned with a nice gleam to her coat. Her form is all over the place, with an 11th-place finish in the English 1000 Guineas in May, and a six-length drubbing of Midday in the Pretty Polly in June, the latter on the kind of boggy course Misty for Me appears to love. The true marker lies somewhere between those poles.

Announce has gone on dirt both mornings so far this week. She’s a big-headed chestnut with a white blaze and seems to have traveled well. It’s fair to mention Announce in the same paragraph as Nahrain, since Nahrain beat Announce a scant nose in the Oct. 2 Prix de l’Opera. Nahrain jogged on dirt Tuesday and galloped on turf Wednesday, and she looks quite good.

The Opera is a prestigious filly and mare stakes, but was it any good this year? Nahrain came into the race 3 for 3, but was making her group stakes debut. Announce needed nine starts before she was tried in a Group 1, beating another Juddmonte Farms color-bearer, the decent but hardly brilliant Timepiece, in the Aug. 21 Romanet. Not saying either filly can’t win – just that they don’t have to.