Ireland's O'Briens make Breeders' Cup a family affair
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP):
The Breeders' Cup is a family affair for the O'Briens from Ireland.
Horse racing's international festival, the Breeders' Cup features 13 season-ending championships worth a combined $28.5 million over yesterday and today at Santa Anita.
Once again, many of the best runners in the world will assemble for the prize money and the prestige of taking home a trophy.
Not surprisingly, the foreign contingent is led by Aidan O'Brien who brought 12 horses from his Ballydoyle training centre in Ireland.
O'Brien is the leading international trainer in the Breeder's Cup with 10 wins, ranking third overall. O'Brien's horses have earned a collective $17.2 million in the series.
O'Brien also brought along son Joseph, a former Breeder's Cup winning jockey, now following in his father's footsteps as a trainer.
Joseph O'Brien rode St. Nicholas Abbey to victory in the 2011 Turf for his father. Now O'Brien, 23, could make history as the youngest trainer of a Breeders' Cup winner if Intricately takes the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Joseph O'Brien retired from the saddle this summer after a losing battle to maintain riding weight.
"The last few months I was riding became quite hard weight-wise. I don't really miss it (the riding) and I love training now," O'Brien said.
Joseph O'Brien will have brother Donnacha aboard Intricately, a 6-1 shot who most recently captured the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in Ireland.
Joseph's biggest obstacle could be his father. Aiden O'Brien saddles two runners in the race: Roly Poly, the 4-1 choice and Hydrangea at 6-1.
The star of Aidan O'Brien's Breeders' Cup crew is Found, the brilliant 4-year-old filly who returns to defend her title against the boys in the $4 million Turf.
She rallied from far back to win last year over a rain-softened course at Keeneland. Conditions should be firm this weekend in sunny Southern California.
As if Found wasn't enough firepower, O'Brien will also send out Highland Reel, the Arc runner-up.
Trained in England
The Turf, the richest grass race of the weekend, also features Ulysses, trained in England by Sir Michael Stoute.
Other notable international stars in the Breeders' Cup include:
• Aidan O'Brien's Seventh Heaven in the $2 million Fillies & Mares Turf today. The 3-year-old has already captured the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks this season. The race also includes Japanese mare Nuovo Record, a career winner of just under $5 million.
• Mongolian returning to defend his title in today's $1 million Turf Sprint. The first Breeders' Cup winner owned and trained by Mongolians was greeted in last year's winner's circle by a large group decked out in colourful native garb.