By Jon Lees
Shane Foley believes Albigna, winner of the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac on very soft ground, can prove just as effective in fast conditions when she tackles the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at Santa Anita on Friday.
Foley flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday to meet up with the filly who has won three of her four starts on a mission to extend the Niarchos Family’s lucrative links with the championships.
Though it will be the 31-year-old’s first experience of the Breeders’ Cup, shown live on Sky Sports Racing, he has ridden on the host track before, partnering Platinum Warrior to his first US victory in the Grade Two San Marcos Stakes in February.
Albigna, trained by Jessica Harrington, won her first two starts at the Curragh before disappointing in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, after which she was found to be in season. She bounced back to winning ways at ParisLongchamp on Arc day.
“I’m really looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Foley. “It’s my first Breeders’ Cup but I have ridden at Santa Anita before.
“I am going there with a live chance on a very good filly. I was actually worried about how she would cope in France, seeing how bad the ground was, but she handled it better than expected.
“It’s going to be completely different conditions at Santa Anita. It was good to firm the first day she won, and the second day, so I think she will handle it.”
Foley had won both the Irish 1,000 Guineas on Jet Setting and Irish 2,000 Guineas on Romanised before becoming Harrington’s stable jockey this year, a campaign that has produced a season’s best 83 wins in Ireland and also yielded a Cheveley Park Stakes victory on Millisle.
Albigna, who will race under the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings banner, is from the same family as Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Domedriver, one of the owners’ six winners.
“It’s been an unbelievable season,” said Foley. “If you’d have told me at the start of the year I would have had the winners I’ve had along with two Group One wins I’d have taken it with both hands. To go to the Breeders’ Cup with a live contender is fantastic.
“Albigna is drawn nine, which is not bad. She likes to warm up and come at them. They are quick from the gates so it’s going to be a different type of race but hopefully she will be finishing best.
“We are very hopeful. The Niarchos family are big fans of the Breeders’ Cup so it would be nice to repay them with a winner.”