Hugo Palmer has a trio of chances as he searches for his first Breeders’ Cup winner.
Dubawi Legend is prominent among the Newmarket trainer’s Del Mar team next week – in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, a race which will be his second top-level venture after finishing runner-up in this month’s Dewhurst Stakes.
The colt was two lengths behind Native Trail at Newmarket.
“His run in the Dewhurst Stakes was an enormous run, but in a funny way we were all disappointed that he didn’t win,” said Palmer.
“As he went into the dip we thought he had them all cooked, but the favourite found another leg as they came up the hill. We were hugely happy with how the horse ran, and he’s come out of it in great form.”
Dubawi Legend previously finished third in the Acomb Stakes at York, a result Palmer felt was not representative of his ability – beaten four and a quarter lengths by Royal Patronage.
“He’s only had three starts, and the start in the middle (York) was a disaster,” he said.
“He is an inexperienced horse, but he has always been quite a forward horse.”
Palmer expects Dubawi Legend to handle the track well at Del Mar.
“I think the ability to handle tracks like Epsom and Newmarket is what they need to handle a very tight American track,” he said.
“Horses need to be very sure footed – they need to have great command of their limbs, great balance, and be able to gallop on both legs. These are all things which you need to do at Newmarket, and if they can’t do it there they won’t be able to do it at Del Mar.”
Also headed stateside for Palmer is Hierarchy, who will drop to five furlongs for the first time in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
The Mehmas colt was the winner of two novice events before finishing third in the Group Three Sirenia Stakes at Kempton, and then second by a head in the Group Two Mill Reef at Newbury.
“This horse is very much a sprinter – he’s a very fast horse and he’s improved with every single run this year,” said Palmer.
“He was just touched off by Wings Of War in the Mill Reef, only beaten a head, and was fighting back at the end – having shown a lot of speed.
“The plan since then has been to drop him back to five furlongs for the first time.
“We just backed off him for a few days, and he seems to have come right back to himself. He has to handle the travel, and everything else as well, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t.
“He’s a neat, balanced horse and has answered every question we’ve asked of him this year.”
Palmer’s third entrant is Ocean Road, a Qatar Racing-owned three-year-old filly last seen finishing third in this month’s Pride Stakes .
The daughter of Australia is due to take on the Filly & Mare Turf over a mile and three furlongs.
“Ocean Road has had a light campaign this year,” said her trainer.
“She was third in the Lingfield Oaks Trial – and then from a terrible draw, on ground she hated, she finished sixth in the Oaks at Epsom.
“She wasn’t able to run then until the Pride Stakes at Newmarket, where she got behind a wall of horses and met trouble in-running.
“She ran on well to finish third – it was a career-best performance.”
Palmer considers the faster conditions very likely to be found at Del Mar will be more suitable.
“The ground was just a little bit dead and tacky for her at Newmarket,” he added.
“I think she’ll be much better suited by fast ground, (and) stepping up to one mile and three furlongs at Del Mar should be to her advantage as well.
“She’s going to need to step up – and she’s going to mix it with the likes of (Aidan O’Brien’s) Love.”