Aidan O’Brien opts for Johnny Velasquez to ride Order Of Australia

Breeders’ Cup winner is back at Keeneland on Saturday night for $750k race

Order Of Australia will be without regular jockey Ryan Moore for Saturday’s  $750,000 Keeneland Turf Mile, with Johnny Velasquez taking the ride. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Order Of Australia will be without regular jockey Ryan Moore for Saturday’s $750,000 Keeneland Turf Mile, with Johnny Velasquez taking the ride. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Aidan O’Brien will turn to the renowned jockey Johnny Velasquez when the Breeders’ Cup champion Order Of Australia returns to the scene of his greatest triumph in Keeneland on Saturday night.

Order Of Australia is set to contest the $750,000 Keeneland Turf Mile over the course and distance at which he sprang a 73-1 shock result at the Breeders’ Cup last November.

On that occasion he thrived in the quick conditions to lead home a Ballydoyle 1-2-3 in the Mile ahead of his stable companions Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez.

The colt has won once in a handful of starts in Europe so far this year when landing the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh during the summer.

However, he has shown high class placed form, including when third to Palace Pier in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August and finishing runner-up to Baaeed in the Prix Du Moulin at Longchamp last month.

Once again O’Brien is sending Order Of Australia on his trans-Atlantic travels for a race he has won in the past with Aussie Rules (2006) and Landseer (2002).

“His runs are very solid here and he’s progressing like he did last year in the autumn again. That’s what he did last year and it looks like with his runs that he’s progressing,” O’Brien said on Tuesday.

The colt will be accompanied by the Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Empress Josephine. She is on target to contest the $400,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes for fillies on the same card.

With Ryan Moore on duty at Newmarket, where Glounthaune is due to line up in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes, O’Brien indicated that Velasquez will do the riding honours for Ballydoyle in Keeneland.

The veteran jockey, who will turn 50 next month, and widely known as ‘Johnny V’ is one of the most successful riders in modern US racing history.

Velasquez has almost half a billion dollars in career prizemoney earnings and in May rode his fourth Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, although that result is still mired in controversy over a positive post-race drug test.

The Puerto Rican jockey has ridden rarely for O’Brien over the years but was on Henrythenavigator when that colt finished runner-up to Raven’s Pass in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Ireland’s champion trainer has won at the top level in America three times already in 2021 through Bolshoi Ballet’s Belmont Derby and wins in the Belmont Oaks and Beverly D Stakes for the ill-fated Santa Barbara.

O’Brien indicated the Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar next month is the target for Love who was forced to miss Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe due to a temperature.

“That’s what we’re thinking of. She has a choice of the Turf or the Filly & Mare. Probably at the moment you’d be looking towards the Turf but that could change,” he said.

Before all that, O’Brien will try to move onto 18 Group/Grade One victories for the year at Newmarket on Friday when Concert Hall takes her chance in the bet 365 Fillies’ Mile.

Subsequent to her fourth in the Moyglare over Champions Weekend, Concert Hall landed the Park Stakes at the Curragh last time. Minding in 2015 is one of five previous O’Brien-trained winners of the race.

Glounthaune is on course to try and give his trainer a record-equalling eighth success in Saturday’s Dewhurst.

It will be a first start since his successful Curragh debut in April although a similar lengthy lay-off didn’t prevent Terebrism landing the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket 10 days ago.

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