Racing: Rock Of Gibraltar's draw gives Kinane confidence

Breeders' Cup: Europe's top colt is handed chance to shine from favourable berth while stablemate High Chaparral is also strongly fancied

Richard Edmondson,Chicago
Thursday 24 October 2002 00:00 BST
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Louise Thomas

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Chicago, they say, is the city destroyed by a cow, the heifer which kicked over a lantern and started the the great fire of 1871. The result was that "the second city", the place which gave us the skyscraper, had to be rebuilt from scratch, an eventuality which been mirrored by Chicago's principal racecourse.

Arlington Park too is a phoenix, the victim of a conflagration which devoured the stands in 1985. The track's most prestigious race, the Arlington Million, was held less than a month later in the shadow of the burned-out hulk, a contest which was christened the "Miracle Million" and won by Britain's Teleprompter.

The modern Arlington is just that, the most contemporary of all the courses in the United States and the host, for the first time on Saturday, of racing's annual Olympics.

Breeders' Cup XIX is expected to feature another keen tussle between the domestic forces and the visiting Europeans, and the American hospitality has gone as far as to arrange suitably dreary weather for the travellers.

There were honking geese in the air as well drizzle here yesterday, both threats to those watching the morning workouts in front of the huge, six-storey cantilever stand. There are, in fact, just 12,000 fixed seats at Arlington, though a further 25,000 bleacher seats have been installed either side for the biggest raceday in the course's history.

At this stage of the week, though, there is as much interest in a much more prosaic erection, the white box of the quarantine unit in the back stretch which houses the foreigners.

There were eight inmates from Ireland's Ballydoyle yard inside yesterday after their arrival the previous evening, though only seven will actually participate on Saturday as Marino Marini has not made it into the Juvenile.

Beside the grey were two of what might be called in this city the untouchables, High Chaparral and Rock Of Gibraltar, according to yesterday's morning line compilers virtual certainties at the weekend. The dual Derby winner is 8-5 for the Turf, while the Rock, who was given the satisfactory No 10 box in yesterday's draw, was rated at evens for his chosen contest, the Mile.

Michael Kinane, who partners the two great colts, will also ride Tomahawk in the Juvenile. Kieren Fallon rides Hold That Tiger, a juicy 12-1 shot on the morning line yesterday, in the same race, while John Velazquez has the mount on Van Nistelrooy. Also in the Mile, Landseer will be partnered by Edgar Prado.

Both the draw and choice of target for Rock Of Gibraltar (the Classic had also been an option) please Kinane. "He travels so well and can really quicken," he said. "He has great acceleration."

The jockey also expects a big run from the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe third High Chaparral. "He ran well, but he is a laidback individual and needed the race," Kinane said. "I think the Arc has put a nice edge on him."

Luca Cumani and Michael Stoute were the British trainers outside the fencing of the quarantine pound yesterday, as they considered the prospects respectively of Gossamer and then Golan and Islington.

It is 10 years since the Italian launched his international career here in the Million with Tolomeo and he feels lucky again with Gossamer in the Filly & Mare Turf.

"She is a fresh filly coming in and you could almost say she has been trained for this race," he said. "She went round the Arlington bend [built at Newmarket] last Wednesday like a motorcyclist almost on his side round the bend.

"Her nickname in the stable is Goody Two Shoes because she always does what she is asked. She's a model pupil."

No such sobriquet can be allowed Golan, who works as willingly as Andy Capp. "You would worry if he worked well," Stoute said yesterday, "and he hasn't done that yet."

Golan had a gentle introduction to the Arlington turf course and looked at one point as if he was heading for Lake Michigan. Yet there is an underlying confidence about his prospects against High Chaparral in the Turf.

"He's had an easy year and he's right on target for this race," Kieren Fallon, his jockey, said. "He is not like a lot of these horses that's had a hard year. He's been trained up for the race. Everything looks as if it's going his way because there have been no bumps in his preparation."

The vibes about Islington are less positive, though Stoute believes she will be roared on by a figure in the celestial members, Lord Weinstock, Golan's owner, who died in July.

"One must remember all the other good horses he had in his lifetime," the trainer said, "but he was particularly fond of these two and, in an ideal world, he would have just got the trip to the Nassau Stakes and the King George."

n William Hill, the bookmakers, last night offered a special bet – 5-2 against Aidan O'Brien drawing a blank at the Breeders' Cup.

BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC (Hills ante-post odds): 100-30 War Emblem (from 9-2), 7-2 Medaglia D'oro (from 4-1), 9-2 Evening Attire, 11-2 Came Home, 13-2 Hawk Wing (from 8-1), 10-1 Harlans Holiday, 14-1 E Dubai, Macho Uno (from 12-1), 25-1 Milwaukee Brew, Perfect Drift, 33-1 Dollar Bill, Volponi.

BREEDERS' CUP MILE: evens Rock of Gibraltar (from 6-4), 8-1 Landseer (from 13-2), 9-1 Domedriver (from 8-1), 10-1 Beat Hollow, Good Journey, 12-1 Forbidden Apple (from 10-1), 14-1 Touch of the Blues (from 12-1), 16-1 Aldebaran, Dressed to Thrill (from 14-1), 22-1 Medecis (from 20-1), 28-1 Del Mar Show (from 25-1), 33-1 Nuclear Debate, 40-1 Boston Common, Green Fee.

BREEDERS' CUP TURF: 6-4 High Chaparral, 5-2 Golan, 11-2 Ballingarry (from 6-1), 6-1 Denon, 8-1 With Anticipation (from 10-1), 16-1 Falcon Flight, The Tin Man, 50-1 bar.

BC JUVENILE: 3-1 Sky Mesa, 9-2 Vindication, 13-2 Hold That Tiger (from 5-1), 7-1 WhyWhyWhy (from 8-1), 8-1 Toccet (from 7-1), 9-1 Tomahawk (from 8-1), 12-1 Kafwain, 14-1 Bull Market, 16-1 Van Nistelrooy, Wando (from 12-1), 20-1 Lone Star Sky (from 16-1), 22-1 bar.

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