Declaration Of War primed as Aidan O’Brien chases elusive Breeders’ Cup Classic

Colt is due to have a final career start before going to stud

 Aidan O’Brien . . . still chasing that elusive Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Aidan O’Brien . . . still chasing that elusive Breeders’ Cup Classic.


Should Declaration Of War (above) land this Saturday night’s Breeders’ Cup Classic he will be a hugely-significant winner of a $5 million highlight that has proved maddeningly elusive for Aidan O’Brien over the years.

The culmination of America’s most valuable race meeting has proved to be an elusive holy grail for Ireland’s champion trainer and the Coolmore Stud operation, which has placed a premium on the mile-and-a-quarter dirt feature but without any success to date.

Giant’s Causeway’s second to Tiznow in the year 2000, and Henrythenavigator’s runner-up placing to Raven’s Run in 2008, remain the closest the Ballydoyle behemoth has come to landing the Classic despite the cream of Coolmore’s talent having been thrown at the race.

From Galileo’s eclipse in 2001, to George Washington’s fatal second attempt in 2007, and So You Think’s defeat two years ago, the challenge of transferring top European turf form to American dirt has proved too much to overcome. Even Henrythenavigator’s second came on an artificial surface which has since been ripped up in favour of traditional dirt at Santa Anita.

Nevertheless a persistent O’Brien is set to return to the Los Angeles track for another attempt at the potentially lucrative commercial jackpot with Declaration Of War, who is due to have a final career start before going to stud.

Ante-post lists
Winner of the Queen Anne Stakes at a mile, and the Juddmone International at 10 furlongs this year, Declaration Of War is as low as 8/1 in some ante-post lists on this side of the Atlantic but is almost double those odds in the US.

He heads a small-but-select O’Brien team for the two-day Breeders’ Cup meeting which starts on Friday.

Both Giovanni Boldini and Wilshire Boulevard are entered for the Juvenile Turf on day one, a race O’Brien won last year with the recently retired to stud George Vancouver.

The other Irish possible on Friday is Dermot Weld’s Curragh Listed winner Flying Jib in the Juvenile Turf for fillies.

Rest entirely
Irish hopes will rest entirely with O’Brien on Saturday. Declaration Of War will be backed up by the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Magician, who is entered in both the Mile and the Turf over a mile and a half.

Cristiforo Colombo is entered in the Turf Sprint and the Mile, with the latter reportedly the favoured option.

The European challenge in total is not as strong as other years but one star already on site is The Fugue, winner of the Irish Champion Stakes last month. John Gosden appears likely to run her in the mile-and-a-half Turf contest on Saturday.

‘Cargo flight’
“She flew from Stansted on Saturday on a direct cargo flight to Los Angeles rather than having to refuel somewhere,” Gosden said yesterday. “She seems to have travelled well, and we know from travelling horses long distances you have to be careful.”

The Newmarket trainer added: “Her first preference is stated as being the in the Turf over a mile and a half against the colts.

“I’ll be track-side Wendesday morning. We’ll have a feel of the turf. She seemed happy in herself when she left. She had a solo-breeze on Friday before flying. Apart from the length of the journey, I’ve been very happy with everything.”