Rusty Arnold suggests he over-raced Leinster going into last year’s Breeders’ Cup meeting but he’s much happier with preparations for this year’s event.
The five-year-old Kentucky-bred is preparing for a hometown showdown in the Breeders’ Cup Turf next month at Keeneland and his trainer couldn’t be happier with him.
Leinster worked a half-mile in 49.40 seconds over a turf course labelled good Thursday morning at Keeneland under Crystal Conning.
“Looked good to me,” was trainer Arnold’s view of Leinster’s first work since winning the Grade 2 Woodford on October 3rd at Keeneland.
Leinster finished seventh last year in the Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, a race won by Belvoir Bay. Recalling the preparation, Arnold admits to some regrets having perhaps run the horse more than was his optimum.
He’s got no such fears going into the November 7th renewal this time around after successive Grade 2 wins in the Woodford and, previously, Shakertown, both at Keeneland.
“Compared to last year at this time, he’s doing much better,” said Arnold, who has had 13 Breeders’ Cup starters, with his first coming in 1996.
“In retrospect, I ran him too much last year. He won the race in New York (the Grade 3 Troy) and that would have been enough to get him in (the Breeders’ Cup).
“Then I ran him at Kentucky Downs and then back here in the Woodford, which I shouldn’t have done. He didn’t run bad (finishing second in the Woodford), but I just think he had lost his edge a little bit.”
Leinster has assumed ante-post favouritism at around 9/2 for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint following the news that European superstar Battaash won’t be making the journey to Kentucky.
That was confirmed last week by trainer Charlie Hills, with the dual Nunthorpe Stakes winner – the fastest horse in Europe – set to remain at home in England with a view to racing again in 2021.
Fellow US-trained rivals Got Stormy (Mark Casse), Imprimis (Joseph Orseno) and Diamond Oops (Patrick Biancone) are set to challenge Leinster at the top of the market in the run up to post-time.
Trainer Peter Miller has won the last three renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with Stormy Liberal (2017 & 2018) and the aforementioned Belvoir Bay and he could rely on Bulletproof One in his quest to maintain that stranglehold on the race.
European hopes in the $1m Grade 1 heat could still be strong with Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers – second in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp recently – a possible traveller alongside the Aidan O’Brien-trained Lope Y Fernandez.