Wesley Ward has high expectations for both Campanelle and Golden Pal on the opening night of the Breeders’ Cup.
Both horses will be familiar to British racing fans, having performed at Royal Ascot in June.
Campanelle provided her trainer with a fourth victory in the Queen Mary Stakes – before striking Group One gold in the Prix Morny at Deauville in August.
Running on Ward’s home track of Keeneland, confidence is high Campanelle can add the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf under Frankie Dettori.
“Campanelle is doing great and has been prepared for this since three days after the Morny,” said Ward.
“It’s her home course, so all we’ve got to do is lead her over from stall to stall.
“She’s been training great – she’s got some new shoes on, and we’re ready to roll.”
Campanelle will be tackling a mile for the first time, having not previously raced beyond the six furlongs she won over in France.
Ward added: “I’m happy with the mile. We’ve tried to emulate the same schedule as we followed with Hootenanny, who was narrowly beaten in the Morny a few years ago and then won over the mile at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita with Frankie.
“We’ve got Frankie, we’ve got the mile – and this time we’re on our home track, so we don’t even have to ship to California.”
Campanelle’s American rivals include Aunt Pearl and Plum Ali, while European hopes are carried by Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth, Ken Condon’s Miss Amulet, Jessica Harrington’s Oodnadatta and Nazuna from Roger Varian’s yard.
Ward is confident of getting off to a flyer in the very first Breeders’ Cup race of the weekend, with Golden Pal the hot favourite for the Juvenile Turf Sprint over five and a half furlongs.
Narrowly beaten by Michael Bell’s The Lir Jet in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, the son of Uncle Mo has since bolted up in a stakes race at Saratoga – and Ward is unconcerned about the prospect of being drawn widest of all in stall 14.
“He’s the favourite, and everybody knows what I think of this horse,” said Ward.
“That (stall 14) is the hole I would have picked if I was given the choice. He’s outside and he shouldn’t have any issues, whereas if he was drawn on the inside or in the middle and broke a step slow, he could encounter traffic.
“I will be disappointed if he doesn’t win. We’re excited for all the runners, but this guy has shown so much talent and ability from early on, we’ve got big hopes.”
Golden Pal is set to be joined by a trio of stablemates in Amanzi Yimpilo, Into The Sunrise and After Five.
Hollie Doyle makes her Breeders’ Cup debut aboard Archie Watson’s Mighty Gurkha, O’Brien saddles Lipizzaner – and Nigel Tinkler is looking forward to running surprise Flying Childers winner Ubettabelieveit.
Tinkler said: “I think the horse is very professional. He’s a very intelligent horse, so he’s not going to do anything stupid. He has grown up and he’s got stronger.
“Its five and a half furlongs, which I think will be absolutely ideal. I’m a little bit concerned because it’s going around a bend, and last time he hung a little bit to the right in the last furlong.”
The TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on the dirt promises to be an informative affair, with Steve Asmussen’s Kentucky Derby favourite Jackie’s Warrior taken on by Essential Quality and Ward’s Next – who won at the track just a fortnight ago.
Ward said: “We’re coming back from a short rest. I know you guys in Europe do that a lot with the two-year-olds, but every time I do it you can stick a fork in mine!
“But he’s on his home course and ran a big race here two weeks ago, which is why we’re taking a chance.
“We’ll find out of if he’s good enough, number one, and if the short rest takes a toll on him.”
Bob Baffert’s Princess Noor heads the betting for the Juvenile Fillies ahead of Simply Ravishing, Dayoutoftheoffice and Girl Daddy.