All week long the Breeders' Cup has filled my in-box with some fantastic notes and quotes leading up to this weekend's event. Below are some of the quotes I've found most interesting with respect to the European horses and the contenders in the Classic and Ladies' Classic.
Aidan O'Brien speaking of Marathon contender Fame And Glory:
"He's been a great horse and a great servant to the yard - he owes us nothing. This is a bit of an experiment, I suppose. He stays well, and it's really a question of whether, being a Montjeu, he handles the surface or not. As he's gotten older he's maybe just started to keep a little for himself; started to think a little, so we might try things a little differently. We'll put a pair of blinkers on him. Jamie (Spencer) might just try and jump him out and let him roll along and we'll see how he goes from there."
I wasn't incredibly bullish on Fame And Glory's chances in the Marathon but the trainer stating that the race is "a bit of an experiment" leaves me less than enthused with his chances.
And speaking of Mile contenders Excelebration:
"As he's got older he appears to have got stronger and faster. When he won at Ascot, the ground was obviously a lot softer than he'll meet on Saturday, but hopefully he'll handle that OK. It was always the plan to come on to the Breeders' Cup after Ascot, and I suppose there is always the chance that two group 1 races in two weeks is asking too much of the horse, but he seems in very good form."
Freddy Head on Moonlight Cloud:
"...Moonlight Cloud is very good in her own right. As she has gotten older, she maybe has lost a little bit of her speed, but at the same time her stamina has improved, so she is now effective over further (ground)."
On the Ladies' Classic front, Chad Brown offered some thoughts on Awesome Feather's recovery from a bowed tendon:
"Not every soft tissue injury is black and white," he said. "It depends where it is, the extent of it, or a horse's own tolerance for pain or healing. Every horse is different and every injury is different. I don't think there is a set formula for bringing a horse back like this. There is a lot of luck involved.
"The most important component to the whole equation is her, the filly. She's overcome it. We've tried to help her along and stay out of her way."
Class Included is the first Breeders' Cup starter for long-time Northwest trainer Jim Penny. Assistant trainer Kay Cooper talked about the filly's works at Santa Anita:
"She worked a half-mile (on Sunday) in forty-seven flat under Joey Steiner and it was the fastest at the distance," said Cooper, who is being assisted in the barn by her husband and former jockey Bryson Cooper.
"That first work over the track here was not impressive and she did not get over the track. So we changed her shoes and it made a difference. It wasn't our objective to have her go that fast (in her final work), but the main thing was that she was able to handle the track, and she sure did it. And then she galloped out strong. We couldn't be happier with her."
Turning to the Classic, Bill Mott spoke about contender Ron the Greek with regards to his win at Santa Anita back in March in the Big Cap:
"When Ron the Greek won the Santa Anita Handicap last spring we were excited, of course, knowing that the Breeders' Cup was going to be run here this fall," Mott said. "It's a good sign when they've run the distance and they've run over the track. That's one hurdle out of the way that he's already handled. He's doing good.
"I know they've changed the racetrack here a little bit in the last few months and have added a little sand. It's probably not exactly the same racetrack surface that he won over, but I'm sure it's somewhat similar.
"'Ron' seems to be happy out here. He's doing well. He's galloping good over this surface right now. He seems to be happy to be back in California."
Mark Casse on Pool Play:
"He is getting some good reviews. Knock on wood, he's coming up to this race really good. I think he's peaking just at the right time," said trainer Mark Casse, who has saddled 10 Breeders' Cup horses but never one in the Classic. "I think people are underestimating him."
Nonios put in a bullet work over the Santa Anita main track on Tuesday morning. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer offered his thought on the work:
"He went a little faster than I expected, but I told Martin [jockey Pedroza] to let him go if he was doing things easy. He was doing it that way; pretty much breezing."
Hollendorfer broke down his clocking by eighths this way: 12 2/5, 23 3/5, 35 2/5 on the way to final time.
"He went the last three-eighths in 11 [seconds] and change each," he said.