Only two Euros pre-enter Turf
The Breeders' Cup Turf long has been a haven for European runners, won by some of the best grass horses ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean. But after 11 pre-entries for the $2 million Turf were released this week, the race looks more like a glorified domestic squabble than anything of the international flair to which Breeders' Cup fans are accustomed. Powerscourt and Ouija Board (who is also pre-entered for the Filly and Mare Turf) are the lone Europeans pre-entered in a race that surely will have Kitten's Joy as a solid favorite. One other pre-entrant, Magistretti, also has strong European connections, although he made his last three starts in the U.S. But the overall flavor of this 21st running of the Turf is unmistakably American.
That paucity of Europeans - along with other factors, including the Texas fall climate and the Lone Star Park turf course layout and condition - is why some American trainers are sending their horses to the Turf when they might not have under other circumstances.
Request for Parole, who might have run instead in the the Canadian International at Woodbine on Saturday, is one of them.
"Our horse likes a firm course, and he seems more apt to get it [in the BC Turf] than he would have in the Canadian International," said trainer Stan Hough.
"The average European horse is probably a little up against it at Lone Star because of the seven-eighths turf course and how hard it might be," Hough said. "There's also the possibility of warmer weather. On balance, American horses do better under those conditions. My owners wanted to run, too, and we were able to get Pat Day, so we decided to go. The fact some of the top European horses won't be coming doesn't hurt us."
Graham Motion, trainer of Better Talk Now, also said that the probable vastly different conditions between Woodbine and Lone Star was reason to go to Texas.
Including Magistretti, who shipped Monday from Lexington, Ky., the largest contingent of Turf starters could fairly be called New York or East Coast horses. The remainder of the field includes two from California (Sarafan and Star Over the Bay), one from Canada (Strut the Stage), one from Kentucky (Kitten's Joy), and the two from Europe.
Meanwhile, Kitten's Joy, who figures lower than 2-1 off his sensational victory in the Oct. 2 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, arrived Tuesday at Lone Star off a charter flight from Louisville, Ky., and is tentatively scheduled to work five furlongs on the Lone Star turf Saturday morning.
Jerry Bailey, who lost the mount on Kitten's Joy because he was injured when the colt won the Joe Hirsch under John Velazquez, does not have a mount in the Turf.
As for the arrival of the Europeans, Powerscourt, who was disqualified to fourth after finishing first in the Arlington Million, and Ouija Board, a British 3-year-old filly who has won 4 of 7 starts, were scheduled to travel Monday on a charter flight that will carry all of Europe's BC starters from Shannon Airport in Ireland to Dallas.