A move off synthetic surfaces and to not use Lasix means the two-day Breeders' Cup meeting is seeing a lack of interest in foreign raiders, writes Geoffrey Riddle.
American trainers dig the dirt
There was the unmistakable air of US protectionism after the pre-entries were made for next weekend's two-day Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita on Wednesday night.
American trainers lined up to defend vigorously the decision made by the Californian track's executive to revert to a dirt surface, and also promoted the use of the anti-bleeding drug Lasix in the sport in the US.
In 2010 Santa Anita ended its experimentation with Pro-Ride, a synthetic surface that may well have persuaded connections of Frankel to finish his career at Champions Day at Ascot in England last Saturday instead of signing off in America.
Bill Mott, who has entered four horses in the Classic, including the Dubai World Cup flop Royal Delta, stated that synthetic surfaces are not the answer for a more inclusive two-day meeting.
"I certainly like the dirt this year," Mott told a live teleconference. "I don't know if any one of mine would be running if it was a synthetic track. I'm glad it is back to dirt. American's love dirt racing and I hope they keep it."
When pressed by The National as to whether he thought more international horses would come to America's self-styled World Championships if there was a synthetic option he replied: "I don't think so. The Breeders' Cup has a mile turf race and a mile-and-a-half turf race, which fits into most horses' schedules. I think we have options. It is the traditional surface for us.
"We have had Polytrack and Pro-Ride tracks and they seem to be going by the wayside recently."
For the first time since the Breeders' Cup was inaugurated in 1984 juveniles will not have Lasix administered before races.
Perhaps as result of this diktat the Juvenile Fillies' race came up severely short of entries with only nine possible runners, although five of those have been cross entered.
It could mean that the US$2 million (Dh7.3m) contest will have the smallest field in Breeders' Cup history, compared to the 1987 and 1996 runnings of the Distaff, now the Ladies Classic, when only six entered the starting stalls.
"I am a little disappointed that since the pre-entries came out, if the Juvenile Fillies is not a full field because of the lack of Lasix that is pretty narrow-sighted," said Graham Motion, who has entered the former Dubai World Cup favourite Animal Kingdom in the Mile.
"A very large percentage of racehorses end up bleeding. I don't get the argument that I hear from Europe that horses don't bleed over there, I don't believe that. Around 80 to 90 per cent of my horses bleed at some point."
Mott does not expect Royal Delta to contest the Breeders' Cup Classic and is likely to leave her in the Ladies Classic at the next declaration stage on Monday to face Godolphin's Questing.
Royal Delta has already won two Breeders' Cup Win and You're In races having scored in the Delaware Handicap in July. She also handed the American trainer his first victory in the Beldame Invitational last month.
Both races allow Royal Delta an all-expenses-paid berth in the Ladies Classic. Mott would have to find $150,000 if the four year old were to run against fellow Dubai World Cup runner Game On Dude in the Classic.
"That's a serious amount of money," Mott said. "I don't think we need to be playing around with $150,000."
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