Elliott turns to Joel Rosario for Beckford’s Breeders’ Cup attempt

Kentucky Derby winning jockey has won five Breeders’ Cup races and Dubai World Cup

 Joel Rosario on  Mind Your Biscuits   after winning the Dubai Golden Shaheen   this year. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty

Joel Rosario on Mind Your Biscuits after winning the Dubai Golden Shaheen this year. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty

 

Gordon Elliott has engaged the Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Joel Rosario to ride Beckford in Friday night’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in Del Mar, California.

The Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer is pursuing a first top-flight victory on the flat and is preparing to travel to California later this week for US racing’s most prestigious meeting.

The Newtown Anner Stud-owned Beckford has finished runner-up in two Group One races this season – the Phoenix Stakes and the National Stakes – and won the Railway Stakes at the Curragh during the summer.

Pat Smullen has ridden Beckford in his last two starts, including when fifth to US Navy Flag in the Middle Park Stakes last month. The two Irish colts look set to clash again this week and this time Beckford will have local knowledge on his side.

“Joel Rosario rides and the horse is in good form. Lisa O’Neill is out there with him and everything seems to be good,” said Elliott on Monday. The Meath trainer confirmed Beckford will run on the anti-bleeding medication Lasix.

Rosario (32) was a triple-jockeys title winner at Del Mar before switching to ride on the US east coast in 2012. He was America’s top earning jockey in 2013, the year he won the Kentucky Derby on Orb. In 2013 he also landed the Dubai World Cup on Animal Kingdom.

In 2014 Rosario won the Belmont Stakes on Tonalist and he has five Breeders’ Cup victories to his credit, including last year’s mile on turf on board Tourist.

Beckford is as low as 9-1 in some lists for Friday night’s race which will be the first time the colt has raced at a mile.

Group One victories

On Sunday, Newtown Anner provided both Elliott’s old mentor, Tony Martin, and the champion jockey-elect Colin Keane, with maiden Group One victories when Laganore landed the Premio Lydica Tessio in Rome.

Just over a week ago Elliott secured a lucrative jumping pot in the US after the Jack Kennedy ridden Zanjabeel won the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at the Far Hills track in New Jersey.

Elliott’s top-flight focus could switch quick back to the National Hunt sphere as he still has four Gigginstown Stud-owned entries left in Saturday’s JNWine Champion Chase at Down Royal.

A vital forfeit stage ahead of the first Grade One prize of the 2017-18 jumps season takes place on Tuesday.

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