Goldikova has firm grip on Mile crown
ARCADIA, Calif. - It will take decades for someone to surpass the milestone that French trainer Freddie Head can achieve if Goldikova wins Saturday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita. A victory would make Head the only person to win the same Breeders' Cup race twice as a trainer and twice as a jockey.
Goldikova is the defending champion of the BC Mile, which was held at this track in 2008. For Head, it was his third BC Mile win. He rode Miesque to consecutive wins in 1987-88 at Hollywood Park and Churchill Downs.
The personal ramifications of Saturday's race were foremost on Head's mind earlier this week.
"It's amazing to win it twice," he said. "It's something that I'm looking at. It would make it even more satisfying."
There is little reason to think Goldikova will fail. A 4-year-old, Goldikova will be favored to win the BC Mile, which has drawn a field of 11. She is the one to fear, according to rival horsemen.
Owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, Goldikova has won 9 of 14 starts and $3,010,090. This year, she has won 3 of 5 starts, with the wins coming in consecutive Group 1 races over a mile in England and France in July and August.
There has been a slight hiccup in her fall campaign. Unlike last year, when she won the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp over a mile against males seven weeks before the Breeders' Cup, Goldikova approaches this year's race after a loss. She was third in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret against males at Longchamp on Oct. 3. In that seven-furlong race, she was near a fast pace and was beaten a half-length.
Head said he is ready to forget the whole episode.
"The Prix de la Foret was a prep race, and she did not have the best of runs," he said. "She wasn't ready for a race like that. She's been really well since. I know what she can do."
American racing fans saw what she can do in the 2008 BC Mile. Turning into the stretch trailing by 1 1/2 lengths, Goldikova unleashed a rally that quickly took her 1 1/2 lengths in front at the finish. It was a devastating turn of foot, one of the highlights of the 2008 Breeders' Cup meeting.
"Goldikova blew everybody up last year," said John Sadler, who trained Whatsthescript, who finished third last year and is part of this year's field. "She doesn't look like she's lost anything to me."
Saturday, Goldikova will race with Lasix, a first in her career. Head downplayed the decision, saying he hopes the anti-bleeding medication will calm her.
"I want her to be on even terms with the others," Head said. "She was a little excited last time at Longchamp."
All of the runners except the England-based Zacinto will be treated with Lasix.
Goldikova drew the outside post, which should not pose a major threat to her chances. Jockey Olivier Peslier has customarily kept Goldikova in a stalking position.
Gladiatorus, the winner of the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in March and a Group 1 race in Italy last month, is expected to set the pace, closely followed by Cowboy Cal, the winner of the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile here Oct. 10.
Gladiatorus is one of three entrants owned by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing, along with Delegator, the winner of the Group 2 Celebration Mile in England in August, and Justenuffhumor, the winner of two Group 2 stakes at Saratoga in August.
Zacinto, one of three 3-year-olds in the field, is considered a threat to Goldikova. Trained by Michael Stoute, he was second to BC Classic hopeful Rip Van Winkle in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in September.
"Zacinto is an improving horse, and he'll need to be," said Teddy Grimthorpe, the racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah. "It's a tough Mile. Zacinto is a handy horse, and I would hope he will handle."
The American team is led by Court Vision and Karelian, the first two finishers of the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 10; Cowboy Cal, who won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile here Oct. 10; and Ferneley, who won the Del Mar Mile in August. Courageous Cat, the winner of the National Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga in August, makes his stakes debut against older horses.
Cowboy Cal will probably stalk the pace and should not be ignored, trainer Todd Pletcher said.
"I think at some point they'll have to get by him to win it."
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