Boldini primed to draw first blood for Ballydoyle
Having achieved two of the softest Grade One victories of his career in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Aidan O'Brien sends Giovanni Boldini and Wilshire Boulevard in search of a third successive triumph in the mile contest at Santa Anita tonight.
The Ballydoyle whiz plundered the only two editions of the race that boasted top-level status but, in an aggregate eight subsequent starts, neither Wrote nor George Vancouver came close to winning again.
Ryan Moore did the steering on both occasions, and he takes the reins on Giovanni Boldini 12 months after George Vancouver's victory at the Los Angeles venue, with William Buick on his more exposed stablemate.
"Both of them like fast ground and we think they should get a mile," O'Brien said of his two-year-olds.
"They are coming out of solid races and are straightforward horses."
Only time will tell if this year's edition proves any more noteworthy, but Moore looks to again be on the better of the duo to have made the journey from the south Tipperary hamlet of Rosegreen. His $675,000 American-bred War Front mount has done plenty right.
Successful on his Dundalk debut in September, Giovanni Boldini was a fine third to Toormore and Sudirman on his second start in the National Stakes. He returned to the Co Louth all-weather track to record a smooth Listed win three weeks ago, and the suspicion is that odds of 4/1 about him completing a hat-trick for his revered stable will prove generous.
The market suggests that Chad Brown's Bobby's Kitten is the pick of the locals, while Godolphin's Newmarket raider Outstrip should also be thereabouts.
Charlie Appleby's Champagne Stakes winner ran third to Ballydoyle's War Command in the Dewhurst Stakes, and his second to Toormore at Goodwood in August ties in closely with Giovanni Boldini.
Others of Irish interest on the opening salvo of the two-day climax to the American season are Wordly in the Marathon and Colonel Joan in the Juvenile Fillies' Turf. Wordly represents fledgling east Cork-born handler Brendan Walsh on the back of three solid placed efforts.
Walsh's first Breeders' Cup runner, he should at least give him a run for his money under David Flores.
Coincidentally, it was Flores who did the steering when ex-pat Eoin Harty, brother of Curragh trainer Eddie, bagged his sole previous Grade One Breeders' Cup success with Godolphin's Tempera in the Juvenile Fillies' Race at Belmont Park in 2001.
As a maiden, though, Colonel Joan could struggle to emulate that feat for Harty in tonight's Turf equivalent.