Halford's Platinum bidding for gold at Arlington
Michael Halford has given Platinum Warrior a glowing report as the son of Galileo settles into his American surroundings before a bold bid in tomorrow night's Grade One Secretariat Stakes (10.48) at Arlington Park.
Platinum Warrior had subsequent Irish Derby winner Latrobe behind him in second when taking the Gallinule Stakes in May, but the tables were turned significantly when he trailed home a disappointing ninth in the Curragh Classic.
Halford's charge went through his paces at the Chicago track earlier this week and the Kildare trainer is anticipating a much-improved showing with nearly €200,000 going to the winner.
"We were very pleased with him. He was taking in his new surroundings and was quite relaxed. He moved beautifully around the track so we got that behind us now and we're happy with him," Halford said.
"He's a light-moving horse so the nearer the ground will be to good, the better it will suit us. I won't be giving Joel Rosario (jockey) too many instructions. He knows the place way better than I do.
"He's a horse that you can go forward on. We got a good draw in stall two so I'll just tell him to go forward and wherever he's happy from there."
Platinum Warrior will have plenty of Irish opposition among the 13-strong field, with Joseph O'Brien saddling Ming (Billy Lee) and Dermot Weld represented by Bandua (William Buick), while Aidan O'Brien runs Lucius Tiberius (Wayne Lordan) and Hunting Horn (Ryan Moore).
O'Brien sends recent Belmont Oaks heroine Athena into battle in the Beverly D Stakes (11.25), while the Ballydoyle maestro also takes aim at the lucrative Arlington Million (12.08) with Deauville among the field and Moore in the plate for both mounts.
Closer to home, Christmas can come early for O'Brien and his son Donnacha as the well-touted two-year-old is expected to take a step up in grade in his stride at Tipperary this evening.
Christmas has improved significantly in each of his three racecourse runs and while the Listed Coolmore Caravaggio Stakes looks a very competitive affair with a seven-strong field, there should be plenty more to come and he is the one to beat. An impressive winner from the front at Roscommon, he can help O'Brien land the prize for the third year running.
Fozzy Stack's Highland Fortune is another of significant interest as he steps back up to 7f having chased home O'Brien's Van Beethoven in the Group Two Railway Stakes when a fine fourth, but Christmas will be tough to crack.
Elsewhere, Weld and Declan McDonogh were the men to follow at Leopardstown last night as they landed a 19.5/1 treble spearheaded by another impressive display from Eziyra (9/4 joint-favourite) in the feature race, the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes.
Centroid (4/5 favourite) - half-brother to last year's Arc winner Enable - also scored at the first time of asking, while Betsey Trotter (5/2) landed a handicap on a fine night for the pair.