O’Brien pursues historic Classic hat-trick
Champion trainer can make history in the Kentucky Derby
No sooner has the National Hunt season ended than the countdown to the Classics begins with Aidan O’Brien in pursuit of an unprecedented Classic hat-trick this weekend.
It’s 20 years since King Of Kings gave O’Brien the first of eight victories in the English 2,000 Guineas and Gustav Klimt is a general 5-2 favourite to make it nine at Newmarket on Saturday.
The following day Happily tops the betting for the 1,000 Guineas. But it is in between that Ireland’s champion trainer can make history in American racing’s most famous prize, the Kentucky Derby.
No European trained horse has ever won “The Run For The Roses” but Mendelssohn is one of the favourites for Saturday night’s race, famously tagged the greatest two minutes in sport.
O’Brien has confirmed the spectacular UAE Derby winner will travel to Churchill Downs today and Coolmore’s number one rider Ryan Moore will team up with Mendelssohn on Saturday night.
“He’ll travel over on Monday and go into quarantine. He’ll work on the track on Thursday and Friday,” O’Brien told US media.
The Ballydoyle trainer has had five previous runners in the Kentucky Derby although Master of Hounds’ fifth in 2011 is the nearest he’s got to victory.
However it has given O’Brien valuable experience of the unique event and what Mendelssohn will face.
“It’s a very different atmosphere to what we’d be used to here in Europe. It can get very loud in the parade out onto the track. We’d be very hopeful he’ll deal with it though. We are confident he can get away fast. He has shown he has the pace to lay up early.
“He broke well in Del Mar last season. He broke well at Dundalk this season and he broke well again in Dubai. So we’d be confident he can do the same out there,” he added.
O’Brien also indicated that the three-year-old Seahenge and Three and fourpence, as well as the older horse, Deauville, are likely to race on the Churchill Downs undercard.
The vital Kentucky Derby post position draw is set to take place today.
The shape of the Guineas races will become clearer today with the five-day forfeits for the colts classic.
Mendelssohn with Ryan Moore up wins the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf last year.