Aidan O’Brien is anticipating a big run from Anthony Van Dyck in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs on Friday, as he seeks what would be a deserved big-race victory.
The Galileo colt has kept top company since winning the Group Two Futurity Stakes in August, finding only Quorto too good in the National Stakes at the Curragh and finishing a highly-creditable third to Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst at Newmarket.
O’Brien – seeking his fifth win in the race, most recently striking with Mendelssohn 12 months ago – said: “Anthony Van Dyck came out of the Dewhurst so well.
“He will stay middle distances, but it’s no problem running over a mile and he’s in very good form.
“This is a tough race at the end of a tough campaign, but will stand him in good stead for next year.”
Quorto’s trainer Charlie Appleby has been delighted with the improvement shown by Line Of Duty, who was last seen landing a Group Three at Chantilly.
The Godolphin trainer saw subsequent Derby hero Masar beaten in this contest 12 months ago, and said of this year’s representative: “Line Of Duty has come out of his Group Three at Chantilly well.
“He has gained plenty of experience, although this is a step up in class.
“We feel he has got the right sort of profile for the race.”
Tom Dascombe’s Chesham Stakes scorer Arthur Kitt and Mark Johnston’s Marie’s Diamond are other UK raiders.
Appleby has high hopes for La Pelosa in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, with the experienced filly arriving in Kentucky on the back of a win in the Grade One Natalma Stakes at Woodbine.
He said: “The only disappointing run she had was at Newmarket in the Duchess of Cambridge when she nearly got knocked over – but up until then, she had been very consistent.
“I feel with these races at this time of year, sometimes it is horses that have the experience like she has have a potential advantage.”
Her rivals include Brian Ellison’s tough filly The Mackem Bullet, who pushed Fairyland all the way in the Lowther Stakes and Cheveley Park Stakes. Her North Yorkshire-based trainer expects her to improve for the step up to a mile.
“Every run she has improved. She is a really nice filly,” Ellison told At The Races.
“Her run in the Cheveley Park was massive. The winner is obviously one of the best six-furlong fillies around and we’ve run her close twice.
“Oisin (Murphy) has ridden her twice and both times said she wants further and Ben (Robinson) who rode her in the Lowther said the same.
“If you watch the races she’s always running after the line. At York it took a long time to pull her up. She wants a trip.”
O’Brien saddles Rockfel Stakes victor Just Wonderful, while another North Yorkshire handler, Kevin Ryan, runs the unbeaten East, winner of a Group Three at Saint-Cloud.
O’Brien said of Just Wonderful: “Just Wonderful has a good draw and probably doesn’t want to be in front too soon.
“She has an awful lot of ability.”
Sergei Prokofiev and So Perfect give O’Brien two chances in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.
O’Brien said: “I always thought he (Sergei Prokofiev) was a very quick horse and I think five and half furlongs is his limit and he definitely doesn’t get six furlongs. He’s a big, powerful horse.
“So Perfect is very fast and progressive and will get the five and a half furlongs.
“She has a good draw and is in a good place.”
There are are four British challengers – the Archie Watson-trained Soldier’s Call, Richard Hannon’s Well Done Fox, William Haggas’ Queen Of Bermuda and Pocket Dynamo from Robert Cowell’s stable.
Wesley Ward is two-handed with Norfolk Stakes hero Shang Shang Shang and Moonlight Romance, another leading American hope is Strike Silver, trained by Mark Casse.