Countdown to the Cup: They're All Here

With Santa Anita shrouded in fog for most of the morning, Breeders’ Cup horses went about their business as usual, as many of the Europeans took to the track for the first time.

At 1:30 in the afternoon, the final shipment of horses arrived…finally, having escaped from New York on a flight from Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, N.Y. Among the group were Classic contenders Mucho Macho Man and Fort Larned, as well as longshot Brilliant Speed.

On the same van as Brilliant Speed was the BC Mile favorite Wise Dan, who was led into his barn by trainer Charlie Lopresti.

Fort Larned traveled on the same van as the Todd Pletcher-trained horses, including the undefeated Champagne winner Shanghai Bobby.

Fort Larned was met by trainer Ian Wilkes and his wife Tracy. The first thing Wilkes did was to check to see if the colt had gotten hot during the trip.

“Not too bad, actually,” he said. “You know yourself when you ship you have a shower, so we’ll just give him a bath and walk him. He’ll feel better.”

Some analysts question whether a mile and a quarter will suit Fort Larned, the Whitney and Cornhusker winner who tired to finish third in the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup after challenging for the lead turning for home.

But that premise may prove to be misguided, as Fort Larned, who didn’t seem to handle the deepish track at Belmont that day, is bred to excel not only at the Classic distance, but at Santa Anita.

The 4-year-old colt’s second dam is Hall of Famer Bayakoa, who won three grade I stakes at Santa Anita. His broodmare sire, Broad Brush, won the Santa Anita Handicap. Broad Brush’s sire, Ack Ack also won the Santa Anita Handicap. His sire E Dubai is out of a mare by Lord at War, who won the Santa Anita Handicap. He also traces to Bold Bidder, who won the mile and a quarter Strub Stakes at Santa Anita.

E Dubai won the mile and a quarter Super Derby and finished second to Thunder Gulch in the 10-furlong Travers Stakes. So there is certainly enough to suggest that Fort Larned will have no trouble handling a mile and a quarter, especially at Santa Anita.

Brilliant Speed, who we wrote about in a column last week, looked terrific getting off the van. His coat was resplendent and he came off the van with good energy, bouncing along.

One Classic horse who has looked good galloping in the morning is Alpha, who may be the ignored Travers winner in a long while. Here is a horse who is rarely talked about in any conversation involving the Classic. His Thoro-Graph numbers don’t quite match up with these horses, but he is a classy colt who has turned in several top performances and can be placed anywhere on the track.

Wednesday's Images - All Photos by Steve Haskin

Pool Play had another strong gallop Wednesday.

Euro invader Sky Lantern will be tough in BC Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Point of Entry coming through the fog following his gallop.

Wise Dan arrives at Santa Anita.

Game On Dude as bright and alert as always.

Coil, one of three Bob Baffert horses in the Sprint.

Longshot Quail Hill could set the pace in the Marathon.

Vosburgh winner The Lumber Guy is getting awfully good right now.

Smile winner Gantry constantly needs something in his mouth.

By popular demand, another shot of Gantry in his Breeders' Cup saddle towel.

Brilliant Speed looked great coming off the van.

Fort Larned settles in after arriving Wednesday.

Could Questing be the forgotten filly in the Ladies Classic?

The 3-year-old Atigun could be the Marathon favorite.

Group I winner Moonlight Cloud came within a head of defeating Black Caviar this year.

Foggy morning at Santa Anita.


Leave a Comment:


Safe trip to all!

31 Oct 2012 8:57 PM

Thanks so much Steve!

Totally made my day :) can't wait to get out there and see them all.

31 Oct 2012 9:27 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Fabulous photos. Much appreciated, as are the observations. You're doing a hell of a job young man.

31 Oct 2012 10:19 PM

I actually created an account so that I could comment on these wonderful pictures.  I always enjoy your columns and of late your pictures. To me the pictures are of the "every day life" and very enjoyable.  I worked as a groom for many years and the picture of Gantry immediately took me back.  So many wonderful personalities that I had the privelage of enjoying!! I look forward to seeing more!!

31 Oct 2012 10:44 PM

I cannot wait to get there tomorrow.... Love the fog.  We are having really beautiful weather.  Hard to explain to folks that have been dealing with a very mean Mother Nature.  Thank you for the photos and the great tidbits of information about these beauties.  

31 Oct 2012 11:15 PM

Steve, I've got a real soft spot for Fort Larned, admittedly because of his grandmother.  I actually almost played a future on him at 30/1 back in mid-September but chickened out.  Still, I loved what you had to say about him, and I think he might be a little unwisely overlooked or dismissed in the Classic.

Thanks for the picture too.  That's a pretty sweet face if you ask me.

One question, Steve....with that awful storm being tracked for over a week, and knowing when and where it was going to make landfall, why didn't they ship those horses out of there earlier?

01 Nov 2012 12:08 AM
Linda in Texas

Pool Play in gallop with all of his feet off the ground! Great timing with the camera Steve he  is one heck of a hunk of a horse! Love that dark dark coat (black) and he looks like he is a very proud horse and loves his life.

And the Lumber Guy glad he is there and so also Sky Lantern, watched her win a race on you tube.

She is a trooper.

This group is mighty close to being the "A" Team. Brilliant Speed is not too shabby either and the Haskenite who wanted you to photograph Gantry is in for a double treat! Seeing Fort Larned up close, really like him and glad they didn't forget to stop and load him up in Kentucky.

Thank you for the great photos Steve, my word, tomorrow is November 1 and seems like just yesterday we were wondering who would be staying sound long enough to race in The Breeder's Cup races. I guess the Handicappers are hunkered in for a couple of days trying to put their bets down.

Cannot not mention Game on Dude, been a fan from the get go and that was a nice shot of him. Good luck to all. And especially best wishes that they all return to their stalls after their big race is completed.  

01 Nov 2012 12:22 AM
Sam Santschi

Thanks Steve.  Great photos.  How bout one of MMM tomorrow?  So many ??  East to west, late arrival made later by Sandy, No Gr 1 wins.  Unfavorable pace scenario? Hate being on the fence about horses I have a fondness for and feel compelled to bet just so I don' t regret it if they win.  He's just a cool guy though...Gets Smith...

01 Nov 2012 12:27 AM
The Deacon

Excellent photos Steve, the Kodak Man does it again.

Only think missing this year is our top 3 year olds. Wow, what a decimation of almost an entire crop of classic horses.

Good fortune to all and mostly a safe journey around the oval.......

01 Nov 2012 3:40 AM
John Boudreau

Steve>> GREAT Photo's as Usual!!>> I Noticed that Pool Play is at the Head of the List??>>> He's Looks in the Photo and All Week>> He's Looked FANTASTIC>> He's 2 for 2 on DIRT>> A Gr. 1 and a Gr.2>> 30-1 ML>> The PLAY of a Great CUP Weekend>>GOOD LUCK

01 Nov 2012 5:40 AM

steve i don't want to correct you, but you made a slight error in saying that e dubai ran second to thunder gulch, which e dubai was born in 1998 and he actually ran second to point given, who is a son of thunder gulch.

01 Nov 2012 6:04 AM

STEVE!!!  Thank you so much!!!  You are the BEST!!!  Love your photos and your writing. Gantry looks awesome!  He'll always be my little Rhumball (his mom's name was Rhum, by Go for Gin). Thank you for the photos and the updates. You rock!!!

01 Nov 2012 8:02 AM
Pedigree Ann

Mr. Haskin,

Would you be so kind as to inform some of your fellow writers at the Blood-Horse of the meaning of the word "precocious?" From context, I think they believe it means "having front-running speed." The actual meaning is "exceptionally early in development - chiefly of children." A youngster who wins first out in March or April of their 2yo year might be called precocious, but not because of its running style - it could be a deep closer.

Meanwhile I will continue my campaign to educate the racing world about what the word "tandem" means (one thing following the other, or in front of the other, like a tandem bicycle). Two horses racing abreast or as a team are NOT in tandem.

01 Nov 2012 9:46 AM

I woke up this morning to a second Gantry picture :) very excited!

Thoroughbred_gal, maybe we can find a way to get in touch with each other. I've got loads of funny pictures I could share with you. Nice to see you cared enough to keep up with him. He's full of personality.

01 Nov 2012 9:46 AM

Thanks for the photos, Steve. Always so very enjoyable. I'm a Wise Dan fan. Just wish he wasn't a gelding, because I like his pedigree. Also am a fan of Fort Larned because of Bayakoa. Actually, I'm a fan of all horses, lol, but some just a bit more than others.

01 Nov 2012 10:49 AM
Abigail Anderson

Glad to hear everyone arrived safe and sound. I do think that Moonlight Cloud is flying under the radar for the Mile. She's just a fabulous filly! Another favourite of mine among the international horses is The Fugue -- and she's going to love the Santa Anita turf. She's been inconsistent of late, but that's largely because of conditions in the UK & Europe (too much rain and too long of a rainy period beginning last Spring). I'm hoping these two girls make big runs!!!! Thanks for the updates, Steve. I'm following each & every one.

01 Nov 2012 10:55 AM
Melissa P

Wonderful photos and observations. Since I can't be there myself this year, it's terrific to have someone with the scoop to fill me in. That shot of Brilliant Speed really reminded me of another reason I loved Dynaformer - what a MOTOR!

01 Nov 2012 11:02 AM
Karen in Texas

Fantastic photos! You're bringing the scenes directly to us! Thanks.

01 Nov 2012 11:33 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

The Dude looks eager; confident.  Bring'em oon!  Thanks for the updates and the beautiful pictures.  So excited to be at Santa Anita!  Our hotel is sold out with BC people.

01 Nov 2012 12:29 PM
Love 'em all

So thankful all the horses got there safe and sound, and they're looking mighty good considering what they've been through.  Scary times for all.

Love all the wonderful photos ... a big thank you for this latest treat.

Cheers and best wishes to all.

Go Wise Dan!

01 Nov 2012 12:35 PM

Although I think it is helpful to know the Breeding of horses back several generations, in the matter of picking a winner I think it can be more confusing than helpful.We live in the information age where any one of us can find pedigree information on any horse running in ANY race any uncovered value play using breeding is your own opinion and not one where the big bettors will overlook. This information IMO is more subjective than objective.I think Alpha has not run well when he has shipped out of New York, check his record.Kiaran McLaughlin best chances in my opinion are the other entrants he has which include Questing Friday and two other entrants on Saturday besides Alpha.

01 Nov 2012 12:57 PM

OK, the Springs and Dynamic Sky in the 2YO races.

I like the way Pool Play is coming up to the Classic.

The Euros in the Turf races.

I like Awesome Feather and My Miss Aurelia in the Distaff (I refuse to call it anything else)

Good Luck to all

01 Nov 2012 2:08 PM

Great to hear all have arrived safely.  The photos are great, Steve.

Pool Play looks like Leapin' Lena.

Sky Lantern seems a student of the course.

Wise Dan looks strong.

Game On Dude seems to be trying to spot Chantal in the crowd.

Coil looks like a smart ass.

Quail Hill looks elegant.

Brilliant Speed looks like very brilliant speed.

Atigun is all legs.

But, The Lumber Guy looks very much like a mule.  (Just watch him kick me in my wallet.)

01 Nov 2012 3:54 PM

I wish I could share the enthusiasm but my recent dealings with the Breeders Cup have left me utterly dismayed.  

We live in NYC and unlike the horses- we were not able to make it to Santa Anita because our flight was cancelled.  We have called Breeder's Cup about refunds for our $460 in tickets that we are now unable to use.

The Breeder's Cup has refused to acknowledge the loss and damage that many of us are facing. I don't understand how a multi million dollar corporation is justifying this policy of no refund under such extreme circumstances.

Shame on Breeder's Cup.

01 Nov 2012 4:13 PM

Hi Steve, just to let you know its now called Stewart International Airport . It hasn't been an Air Force base for at least 25 years.

01 Nov 2012 6:24 PM

ASPERCEL - Would love to hear from you!  I have some fun pics of Gantry to share too. Would love to hear all about what he is like as an adult.  I've followed him for years. Watched every race. Tried to reach his owners to know he has a home waiting when he is retired!

01 Nov 2012 9:00 PM

E Dubai was second in  1 1/4 miles Super Derby and Travers to Outofthebox and Point Given respectively. He won the 1 1/4 miles Suburban in 2:00.95. The records reflect that he is one of the fastest son of Mr. Prospector. No other son of the great stallion covered 6F in 1:07.9 and a Mile in 1:33.54. His dam sire Lord At War is also the dame sire of SA Derby winner and KD Derby runner up PioneerOf A Nile and KD Derby winner War Emblem.

02 Nov 2012 2:15 AM
Lexington Bloodstock

Your column is one of the only delights of this magazine.  Let them contribute more of this great back story type of reporting.  Exceptional writing and photography.

02 Nov 2012 2:38 AM
Linda in Texas

77SLEW The Stewart family donated that air base in 1972 to the State of New York, however, further to the military base side of it, The Air National Guard still maintains the largest C-5 Unit at Stewart. And, The Marine Corps maintains a wing of C-130 Aircraft and both are in new state of the art military facilities. And lastly mentioned is that Stewart IA has the longest eastern seaboard runway at 15,000 feet. So though it is now Stewart International Airport, it does still have a very substantial military presence. Saw that a couple of years ago when i flew in to Stewart on my way to up state New York to go pick cherries at a friend's estate a little way past  the Vanderbilt Summer Home 'Cottage' in The Hudson Valley. I guess i needed an excuse to get out of Texas. That is an idyllic area of New York and worth a drive if you are ever in Saratoga for the Races in late July and August.

And to all the good people who are lucky enough to be in California for the Breeder's Cup Races. Have a great time and come back and share them with the rest of us. Please. And thank you Steve. I am loving the daily photos of Pool Play. I wonder what they have Lava Man doing! Have you caught a glimpse of him? Have fun everybody.

02 Nov 2012 4:13 PM

Lovely photos and commentary as always; thanks so much!

03 Nov 2012 1:55 PM
El Kabong


Your photos are really a pot of gold. I always appreciated them before, but with an appreciation of the grounds on which they were taken, it adds to the precise moments your images catch. I just arrived at home from SA, and  I do not have a laptop, so I was incommunicado from late Wednesday until now  but for all the right reasons. This was my first visit to Santa Anita, and first Breeders Cup. I'm hooked. Definitely in for next year. I had the time of my life with my older brother, another railbird. We hunted like mad for you and Lenny but alas, you were like trying to find a cold beer before the Classic(ok, cheap shot and I enjoyed the gin and tonic just as much). I really missed my bloodhorse sitting in my hotel each night so that is  going to change next year. Hope to run into you next time. Ran into Randy Moss and Gary Stevens leaving Friday. A bronze medal at best.  

05 Nov 2012 12:40 AM

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