By Lisa Grimm, Superfectablog
With the uproar over Big Brown's retirement, the confirmation that Curlin
will be defending his title and the news that both Henrythenavigator
and Duke of Marmalade
will be contesting the Breeders' Cup Classic
, one strong contender has been overlooked: Raven's Pass
. Indeed, given his finishes behind Henrythenavigator at the mile distance throughout the season, the Classic seemed a far-fetched idea
Few would have countenanced the Classic for Raven's Pass earlier in the season, when he was ridden as a doubtful stayer even over a mile. Certainly his pedigree offers no guarantees for the extra two furlongs, but his sire, Elusive Quality, does offer one for the surface. His progeny seem to handle anything from ricefields to broken glass.
But given his win in the QEII stakes in which he finally
got the jump on arch-rival Henrythenavigator, trainer John Gosden
felt that things were finally falling into place for Raven's Pass. In any event, it will be something of a homecoming for the KY-bred colt, who is out of Ascutney
, winner of the Miesque Stakes. It would seem the breeding to Elusive Quality has been considered a success; she is in foal to the stallion again. Trainer Gosden also has an American connection; he conditioned Royal Heroine
during her American campaign in which she won the Hollywood Derby and the first Breeders' Cup Mile.
Raven's Pass has something else going for him come Classic day: he'll be ridden by Frankie Dettori
, who knows how to win a Breeders' Cup race (or seven
). While the distance will be a question and the surface will be new, Raven's Pass should not be discounted. In his eleven lifetime starts, he's been out of the money only once
- it's a record well worth considering.
Other horses covered in this series so far are Montmartre
, Soviet Song
and Makybe Diva.