10/27/2014 12:55PM

Classic: Fishing buddies all eligible for a whopper

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainers Sean McCarthy (left) and Eoin Harty have know each other for close to 30 years. Harty's Footbridge and McCarthy's Majestic Harbor will face off in the Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. – There have been some real fish tales told on the annual Alaska fishing trip trainers Alan Sherman, Eoin Harty, and Sean McCarthy take each summer, but imagine the tales that will be told if one of them lands the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Sherman is the top assistant for California Chrome, who is trained by his father, Art. Harty has Footbridge, and McCarthy has Majestic Harbor. Their three horses are among the 14 scheduled to run on the $5 million Classic.

“We used to talk about being in a race like this back when we are all assistants – the Breeders’ Cup, the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May,” McCarthy said. “You get so tuned in to what you’re trying to accomplish, you’ve got to stop and say, ‘I’m here.’ It’s really, really neat.”

Harty and McCarthy are best friends, have been for nearly 30 years, since both were assistants just starting out – Harty for John Russell, McCarthy for Dent Caton. They now share a barn at Santa Anita, and at the southern end of that barn, Harty has the west side, McCarthy the east. Footbridge is in the southernmost stall on his side, Majestic Harbor the southernmost stall on his side, so the two Classic runners are neighbors sharing a common wall.

Harty and McCarthy have been fishing together almost every summer in Alaska for nearly 20 years. McCarthy missed this year’s trip for a good reason – he had to run Majestic Harbor in the Santa Anita Gold Cup, which he won.

Of the group, which usually numbers at least six, “Sean’s the most entertaining,” Harty said Monday morning. “He’s always in the best mood.”

They fish for salmon, halibut, and trout. “Women love me, and fish fear me. That’s my mantra,” said Harty, who claimed to be the best fisherman of the bunch.

Sherman said that was a fish story.

“Eoin talks like he’s the best of the bunch. He thinks he’s the best, but I am,” Sherman said.

Sherman also is the lead cook.

“I think that’s the only reason they invite me,” he said, laughing.

All of their horses appear to be coming into the race well. Footbridge was the last of the three to turn in his final work, which he completed on Monday here with a five-furlong drill in 1:00.12.

California Chrome, who arrived at Santa Anita on Sunday from his base at Los Alamitos, had an early morning jog, standard for him the second day after a workout. Majestic Harbor had an easy morning after turning in his final drill on Sunday, when he went a half-mile in 48.76 seconds with jockey Tyler Baze.

“It’s exciting to be in a $5 million race like the Classic,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been training for these two minutes my whole adult life, this and the first Saturday in May.”