The pecking order has changed, but Godolphin Racing's lineup remains the same for Saturday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile.
Two months ago, Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford would have told you that Librettist was Godolphin's best hope and Echo of Light was the second stringer. But after Librettist's poor run in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and Echo of Light's solid victory in the Groupo2 Daniel Wildenstein in his last out, the roles have been reversed.
"In the high summer we would have gone with Librettist, but right now we changed our minds,'' Crisford said when asked which horse was Godolphin's best hope for a Mile win. "Two months later, things change and we go the other way. In high summer Librettist was the one plying his trade, winning back-to-back Group 1's, and Echo of Light has never achieved that yet. He's not a Group 1 winner.''
After missing 20 months of racing due to a ligament injury, Librettist, a Kentucky-bred son of Danzig, returned to the races in June and reeled off five consecutive victories, including Group 1 scores in the Prix Jacques le Marois and Prix de Moulin. Then came the QEII, where Librettist finished sixth behind George Washington, beaten 10 lengths. He came out of the race lame, Crisford said.
"He had two quick runs in France, maybe it was just too much too soon; that's the view we took anyway,'' Crisford said. "After the race he came back lame. He's been training really well leading into the Breeders' Cup Mile, but he's slightly got some catching up to do. On face value he's lost that momentum that he had in the summer; that's the concern we've got as a consequence.''
While Librettist's stock has fallen, Echo of Light's has risen. An English-bred son of Dubai Millennium, Echo of Light has won 3 of 4 races this year, albeit against lesser caliber horses than he will face on Saturday.
In his one try against Group 1 company, Echo of Light finished sixth of seven in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
"He was probably a little bit too aggressive in his early fractions, and as a consequence he didn't have a lot left for the finish,'' Crisford said. "He thinks he's a sprinter, but we know he's a miler. But mentally he's always been a little bit babyish. We spent a long, long time trying to harness his energy and his natural enthusiasm to be a racehorse. Right now he's just doing super, doing really well. We think he's going to run a good race and we also feel going left-handed will suit him better than a right-handed course.''
In the Daniel Wildenstein, Echo of Light showed a new dimension by coming off the pace after he missed the break.
"He was pretty settled that day; he missed the kick from the gate and that worked to his favor,'' Crisford said. "He realized he didn't have to go gearing off. He seems much more settled now, much more relaxed, much more tractable. Maybe now he's learning to be a professional racehorse. It's taken a bit of time to get him to this point. He's a horse with immense talent.''
Frankie Dettori chose to ride Echo of Light over Librettist, who will now be ridden by Christophe Soumillon. Echo of Light drew post 6, while Librettist got stuck in post 13.