Story and photos by Scott Serio
The fan favorite and most well known horse at this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Race Course in California is California Chrome, but a handful a horses based out of Cecil County’s Fair Hill Training Center have a legitimate chance of becoming stars themselves.
Since just missing his chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed, California Chrome has gone on to become the leading money earner all-time for North American thoroughbreds. He briefly went off everyone’s radar in 2015 after suffering an injury, as American Pharoah took center stage with his successful Triple Crown campaign, but came back in January of this year and has been perfect since.
Chrome is the “it” horse and the “now” horse everyone is talking about, but on a weekend with 13 races worth $28,000,000, the Cecil County contingent has a pair of serious contenders.
Trainer Graham Motion’s Miss Temple City and Arnaud Delacour’s A.P. Indian in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Breeders’ Cup Sprint respectively, are coming off big victories and hoping to build off those wins to score in each of their $1,000,000-plus races.
A.P. Indian was a lightly raced underachiever through much of his career, but turned six years-old and has done nothing but win. He opened his 2016 campaign with ungraded stakes wins at Monmouth and Parx race tracks and finally got his first graded stakes win in July in the Belmont Sprint Championship. That win marked the beginning of a four straight in graded company, as the gelded son of Indian Charlie carries a six race win streak into the $1,500,000 sprint for owners Green Lantern Stables.
A.P. Indian is listed at the 4-1 fourth choice in a race that includes California-based heavyweights Masochistic, Lord Nelson and Drefong. “Jersey” Joe Bravo has the mount in the sixth race on Saturday’s card.
Motion has two horses in the historically competitive Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf. Ring Weekend doesn’t have the resume as a turf miler that his stablemate Miss Temple City does, but he did win the Kilroe Mile on Santa Anita’s turf course last year before being sidelined with an injury. He finished seventh in his last start at Keeneland to the aforementioned Miss Temple City.
While it is rare for fillies and mares to run against colts, horses and geldings in thoroughbred racing, no race has seen it happen more often than the Breeders’ Cup (Turf) Mile. In fact, Royal Heroine won the inaugural contest back in 1984 and the ladies went on to set the tone for the race by winning four of the first five. The international superstar Goldikova won three Mile’s in a row, including two at Santa Anita.
With less than stellar performances at races longer than a mile in 2016, Miss Temple City has been her best at a straight eight furlongs. She won the Makers 46 Mile and Shadwell Mile, both against the boys, and flew to the United Kingdom to take a shot in the Duke of Cambridge Stake at Royal Ascot, where she posted a respectable fourth place finish. Of course, for Miss Temple City to win, she does have to beat this year’s favorite and last year’s Mile winner Tepin – also a mare. Jockey Edgar Prado has the mount for Motion in the next-to-last race on the card Saturday.
The rest of the two days of racing is star-studded with celebrities from the equine and Hollywood world. With a former Broadway star singing the National Anthem, Boyz II Men giving a performance, country music stars in the Boots on Stage infield party, Breeders’ Cup will be one two-day party in Arcadia, California. Expect many notable actors, singers and celebrities to be in attendance at the track which was given the moniker of “The Great Race Place” for throwing parties just like this in Hollywood’s heyday.