Legatissimo on course for Breeders Cup appearance

Triple Group One winner favourite for the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf in Kentucky

It is over six months since her first race of 2015 but David Wachman hopes his superstar filly Legatissimo can put a successful Breeders Cup seal to the year when she lines up at Keeneland on Saturday week.

The Co Tipperary-based trainer plans to work his triple-Group One winning classic heroine this Friday and Legatissimo continues to please connections despite an already hugely productive campaign which sees her an odds-on favourite in some ante-post lists for the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf.

The 1,000 Guineas, Nassau and Matron Stakes winner is set to start one of the hottest favourites at America’s most prestigious race meeting which begins on Friday week in Kentucky and which comes on the back of the Wachman team getting a Grade One boost last weekend with Curvy’s EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine.

A revelation

Curvy has been retired to stud on the back of that top-flight victory but Legatissimo is set to race on in 2016 after proving a revelation this season, winning four of her seven starts, and finishing a short head runner-up in both the Oaks and the Pretty Polly Stakes.


The Danehill Dancer filly’s sole lacklustre effort came in that very first start on soft ground at Leopardstown in mid-April.

“I’d certainly like the idea of her running at four and it looks like she will but we’ll sit down and chat about that at the end of the season,” said Wachman who has seen no evidence of Legatissimo’s form tailing off at the end of a long season.

“At this time of year fillies can go off but I hope that won’t be the case with her and she certainly seems fine. So the plan is the Breeders Cup. She seems a suitable candidate for the race. She likes good ground but anything can happen with the weather in Kentucky this time of year so we’ll see about that,” he added.

Long campaign

A long campaign certainly didn’t impede Curvy in Toronto last weekend when her own eighth start of 2015 yielded a top-flight triumph, six months after winning her first start of the season in a Navan handicap off an official rating of just 72.

That was one of 34 winners for Wachman in Ireland this season, contributing to an overall prizemoney haul approaching €1.1 million in this country.

“Curvy will go to stud and should make a lovely broodmare for her owners. She’s been an enjoyable filly to train all along,” Wachman said. “It’s been a good season and it’s been great to have a couple of high -class runners. It’s made it very enjoyable for everyone.”

Legatissimo’s Coolmore ownership have another Group One filly to throw at the Breeders Cup as Found is on target to renew rivalry with Golden Horn in the mile-and-a-half Turf while their dual-Guineas winning colt Gleneagles is still in contention to run in the Classic on dirt.

A powerful juvenile squad likely to travel to Keeneland from Ballydoyle is set to be headed by Alice Springs and Hit It A Bomb, both of which top betting lists for the Breeders Cup juvenile events on grass.

However Hit It A Bomb is also one of eight O’Brien entries among the dozen hopefuls left in this Saturday’s Group Three Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown. The Co Dublin track hosts a weekend double fixture which brings Ireland’s 2015 turf season to an end with Sunday’s €100,000 Tote November Handicap the big-money prize.

Ground conditions at Leopardstown are mostly “good” at present which will be positive news to the Ballydoyle team who have also left a handful of their Killavullan entries in Sunday’s Listed Eyrefield Stakes.

That nine-furlong event has thrown up subsequent classic winners such as Yesterday (2002) and Vinnie Roe (2000) in the past and among the O'Brien hopes holding double entries is the Curragh winner Black Sea who also has the option of Saturday's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

Willie Mullins landed last year's November Handicap with Clondaw Warrior and the champion jumps trainer looks to hold a strong hand again as his Irish Cesarewitch winner Digeanta could have ground conditions to suit in Sunday's race.

Mullins also has the option of running Renneti who ran a fine fourth in the English Cesarewitch earlier this month.

Deauville is a general second-favourite to land an eighth Racing Post Trophy for Aidan O’Brien on Saturday but the trainer has the market leader in Saturday morning’s Cox Plate in Australia after Highland Reel secured a favourable stall-four draw for the Moonee Valley Grade One feature.

"We've got barrier four, so it's up to Ryan (Moore) now," said Coolmore's spokesman Tom Magnier in Melbourne. "The horse has travelled throughout Europe and around America, he is here and well and now we just need a bit of luck on the day."

Power Struggle holds an Eyrefield entry this weekend but appears first in Navan's mile maiden after a fine effort over the course and distance on his previous start.

Fast ground

Fran Berry’s mount belied 66-1 odds to finish fourth to the impressive winner Cook Islands on that occasion and although fast ground is an unknown factor, he is clearly held in some regard by connections.

Joseph O'Brien has chosen Gran Paradiso among a pair of Ballydoyle hopes in the mile and five maiden although first time blinkers on both of them might steer some towards the 77 rated Bold Bid as a value alternative.

Aspar has a course and distance second, as well as an 84 rating, to boost a clear shout of landing the opening juvenile maiden for Wayne Lordan.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column