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Pyro will soon belong to Darley
ARCADIA, Calif. - Pyro, who is entered in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Saturday at Santa Anita, will become the property of Sheikh Mohammed following the race, but no decision has yet been made on whether he will race next year or go to stud, according to Jimmy Bell, the president of Darley USA, which is owned by Sheikh Mohammed.
Pyro, 3, is currently owned by Ron Winchell, who also bred the son of Pulpit.
"He will run for his current connections in the Breeders' Cup. The transfer will occur after the race," Bell said.
As to whether Pyro will join the stallion ranks at Darley next year, or remain in training, Bell said, "Those decisions will be made by Sheikh Mohammed. It's his call to make."
Darley has been on a shopping spree for stallion prospects the past two years. In 2007, it purchased three of that year's leading 3-year-olds - Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun, and Street Sense, the Kentucky Derby winner - and had them all start their stud careers this year.
Pyro's biggest wins this year came in the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. He also was third in the Travers at Saratoga. Last year, at age 2, he finished second to Eclipse Award winner War Pass in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Monmouth Park and the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park.
Puglisi, Klesaris rooting for Diabolical in Turf Sprint
The main reason owner Jeff Puglisi and trainer Steve Klesaris are here this week is to run Sky Diva in Friday's $2 million Juvenile Fillies and Miraculous Miss in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint.
While they do not have a runner in any of the nine races on Saturday's card, they will be watching the $1 million Turf Sprint with interest. Puglisi and Klesaris were the former connections of Diabolical, who will run in the Turf Sprint for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Stable and trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Diabolical, who ran eighth in the 2006 Preakness, won 8 of 19 starts for Puglisi and Klesaris, including the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga and Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap in 2007. It was after the Vanderbilt that they sold the horse to Godolphin. In his second start for his new connection, Diabolical won a Group 3 at Nad al Sheba in March. He enters this race off a neck loss in the Group 2 Diadem Stakes at Ascot.
"Can't wait to see him run, very excited he's here, hope he puts on a good showing,'' Klesaris said.
Added Puglisi: "Our Saturday horse is Diabolical. It's very exciting to see him here.''
- David Grening
Turf contender Eagle Mountain a first for De Kock
Mike de Kock, a fixture as a leading trainer in South Africa and Dubai, has set his sights on this hemisphere with his first Breeders' Cup runner on Saturday. Eagle Mountain, a three-time stakes winner in England and Ireland in 2007 and 2008, starts in the $3 million BC Turf.
None of it seemed possible earlier this year when Eagle Mountain suffered an injury to his pelvis that knocked him out of the major stakes of the Dubai winter season. The colt returned to racing earlier this month, winning the Group 3 Joel Stakes at Newmarket, England, on Oct. 3. The win led de Kock and owner Sheikh Mohammed to choose the BC Turf.
"We were going to go to Hong Kong," de Kock said.
Instead of traveling to the Far East, de Kock, 44, has a chance to win the richest turf race in the United States. Eagle Mountain may only have had one start this year, but de Kock raved about the colt's chances earlier this week. He said the one-mile distance of the Joel Stakes was too short for Eagle Mountain.
"He's had a long, slow build-up," de Kock said. "I think he has fresh legs and that might be in his favor."
Eagle Mountain was trained by Aidan O'Brien last year when he finished second, beaten five lengths by Authorized, in the 2007 English Derby and third, beaten nine lengths by Soldier of Fortune, in the 2007 Irish Derby. Soldier of Fortune is the likely favorite in the BC Turf.
Last year, Eagle Mountain also finished second, by a nose, in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket, England.
Eagle Mountain joined de Kock's stable last winter.
"The second in the Champion Stakes and the second in the English Derby suggests he has the ability," de Kock said. "I think he's very capable."- Steve Andersen
Bailey finds similarities in Cigar, Curlin
Jerry Bailey, who rode Cigar during his 16-race winning streak, and Steve Asmussen, who trains Curlin, found some similarities the other morning when comparing notes about the two horses, especially in the later stages of their careers.
"Steve said you have to leave Curlin alone, and hope he accepts what you're doing. Cigar was the same way," said Bailey, who is working as an analyst on the ABC and ESPN coverage of the Breeders' Cup on Friday and Saturday. "We used to let Cigar do what he wanted. I remember one time, when I was working him, I tried to make him go a little faster, and he turned his head, almost like he was saying, 'What are you doing?'
"When horses like this get older, they get smart. They know what they have to do. They're not going to take your breath away. Like in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it was like Curlin knew exactly what he needed to do."
Bailey said Curlin deserves to be mentioned as an all-time great horse.
"You can't hold that level of performance for that extended period of time without being great," Bailey said. "It's tremendous that he's performing at this high a level for a second straight year."
Cigar was the Horse of the Year in 1995, when he won all 10 of his starts, including the Breeders' Cup Classic. He also was Horse of the Year the next year, even though he was upset in his final start in the Classic at Woodbine.
Curlin was Horse of the Year last year, when he won the Classic at Monmouth. He will be aiming for his second Classic, and his second title as Horse of the Year, on Saturday at Santa Anita.- Jay Privman
O'Brien makes run at Frankel's record
Time may be running out for trainer Aidan O'Brien to break Bobby Frankel's record for most Group 1 or Grade 1 wins in a single year.
Frankel won 25 such races in 2003, and O'Brien currently has 21 Group 1 or Grade 1 wins. The Breeders' Cup races at Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday could put O'Brien closer to his personal best of 23 in 2001 and to Frankel's all-time mark. O'Brien has runners in four Grade 1 Breeders' Cup races.
"We have 21 and that's very difficult," O'Brien said.
In the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup races, O'Brien has Halfway to Heaven in Friday's Filly and Mare Turf, and five runners on Saturday - U S Ranger in the BC Mile, Red Rock Canyon and Soldier of Fortune in the BC Turf, and Duke of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator in the BC Classic. He has seven horses nominated for Saturday's Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, England, including the well-regarded pair of Freemantle and Masterofthehorse.
During the spring and early summer, Aidan O'Brien's massive stable was seemingly invincible in Europe's major races. He won a whopping 15 Group 1 races in May, June, and July, including four Group 1 races at Royal Ascot in England in June.
Since Aug. 1, O'Brien's stable has won "only" five Group 1 races - two in August and two in September and the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month with Halfway to Heaven. She has accounted for three of his Group 1 wins this year.
"She's a very tough, hearty filly," O'Brien said. "She's had three brilliant rides."
O'Brien said a slowdown in Group 1 success was not a surprise since the stable was so brilliant earlier this year. Still, it does leave him with a measure of concern approaching the Breeders' Cup races.
"Some jockeys gave them great rides to make that happen," O'Brien said. It's a mixture of a lot of things."- Steve Andersen
Dutrow missing horse, not attention
This has been a lot quieter week than expected for Richard Dutrow Jr.
Though he is running defending Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville in that same race on Saturday, Dutrow would have been the focus of attention this week as the trainer of Big Brown. But the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner suffered a foot injury during a workout at Aqueduct on Oct. 13 that prompted his retirement.
"I just miss having the chance of watching him run in the race, I don't care about the press,'' Dutrow said Tuesday from New York.
Dutrow said Big Brown continues to recover from his foot injury and would remain at his Aqueduct barn for an undetermined period of time.
"We're just trying to let this thing heal up,'' Dutrow said. "It looks like we're out of any kind of the woods with him.''
In addition to Kip Deville, Dutrow is also scheduled to run Salute the Count in Saturday's $1 million Turf Sprint.
- David Grening