By Jon Lees
Ireland: Magical will join Mogul in targeting the Breeders’ Cup Turf, leaving Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Peaceful to tackle the Filly & Mare Turf as Aidan O’Brien unveiled a ten-strong team for the championships at Keeneland on November 6-7.
Although the Ballydoyle trainer has recorded 12 Breeders’ Cup winners, he has been winless at the last two events with Mendelssohn his last success in 2017 in the Juvenile Turf.
Six of O’Brien’s victories have come in the Longines-sponsored Turf, for which Mogul and Magical, who was runner-up to Enable in a memorable duel at Churchill Downs in 2018, will be leading candidates.
“Everyone wants to say that they’ve had a Breeders’ Cup winner – trained one, owned one, rode one,” said O’Brien.
Three-year-old colt Mogul won the G1 Grand Prix de Paris in September but missed the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe when the whole team had to be scratched because of a contaminated feed issue.
“We were training him for the Arc and he didn’t get to go,” said O’Brien. “The Arc was very tough ground and maybe to miss that ground wouldn’t have been any harm. He is a horse with a lot of speed.
“He likes racing,” O’Brien went on. “He’s a big, gross horse. He is made like a miler. He takes plenty of racing to keep him right. He’s an unbelievable specimen to look at. The track is a little bit tighter than he would be used to, but he is a horse that really quickens. I think that’s what you really need to win those races in America.”
Seven-time G1 winner Magical lowered the colours of Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion Stakes but was only third when favourite for the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
O’Brien said: “She’s an unbelievable filly. She has run at the top level from when she was a two-year-old. She’s danced every dance and travelled everywhere.
“She is very comfortable from a mile to a mile and a half, which is very unusual. She is very brave, stays well, and has a good mind. She is an incredible mare.”
He added: “She ran very well the last day in very bad ground at Ascot, which wouldn’t have suited her.
“She’s very kind, very genuine, and has lots of class and determination. Whatever you ask her to do, it’s not a problem. Wherever you put her, she just takes it as it is. She is very easy to deal with.”
O’Brien is preparing Circus Maximus, Lope Y Fernandez and possibly Order Of Australia for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF. Royal Ascot winner Circus Maximus was another not to enjoy testing going on Champions Day.
“Ascot was a bit of a mess,” he said. “The ground was very heavy, it went very slow, which probably didn’t suit him. With the benefit of hindsight, with the bad ground at Ascot, maybe we wouldn’t have gone back there. He came out of it well. We don’t think it did him any harm.”
Last year the colt finished fourth in the Mile. “He ran well but he had a bad draw,” the trainer went on. “It was a little bit rough and tumble there. We always thought this year would suit him better.
“Santa Anita was hard fast ground. He doesn’t mind that, but a little bit of kindness in the ground won’t be any harm for him.”
Ground was also blamed for Peaceful’s last run in the Sun Chariot Stakes, in which she finished last. She now tackles the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf.
“We ran at Newmarket on bad ground when we probably shouldn’t have,” said O’Brien. “I don’t think the race at Newmarket left its mark, she seems to be in good form since and we always had our eye on the Breeders’ Cup for her. We’d like nice ground and if she gets a good draw, she’ll go forward and should be very uncomplicated.”
Mother Earth and Snowfall, the two fillies who were disqualified after getting mixed up in the Fillies’ Mile, could contest the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, while Battleground, who is out of the stable’s Turf winner Found, aims for the Juvenile Turf presented by Coolmore America.
O’Brien said: “Battleground was ready to run in the National Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend, but we decided not to run him as the ground was a bit soft. He’s been very well since and has one more piece of work to do before the Breeders’ Cup.”
“We think Keeneland will suit him – he’s a big powerful horse out of Found. He’s very classy and travels very nicely – he’s big and he’s strong and he’s been getting seven furlongs very well, so we think he’ll get the one mile. He’s a horse to look forward to we think.”
Completing Aidan O’Brien’s powerful Breeders’ Cup team is Lipizzaner who could take in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.