Gary Young has observed Breeders' Cup horses up close and personal on a professional level since the inception of the championship events at Hollywood Park in 1984.
The respected private clocker and bloodstock agent is back on the beat in his Club House perch at Santa Anita these days, scrutinizing daily workouts by the best of the best readying for the Breeders' Cup that will be held Nov. 1 and 2 at The Great Race Place for a record 10th time.
Of the Breeders' Cup workers he's seen thus far at Santa Anita, Midnight Bisou has made the most indelible impression.
“Considering what a strenuous campaign she's had, she looks terrific,” Young said of the 5-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute, undefeated in her seven races this year, all graded stakes, three of them Grade 1s.
“Steve Asmussen (her trainer) has had success bringing horses in here early, sometimes three weeks in advance, rather than right on top of their races. It worked with him for Gun Runner (2017 Classic winner at Del Mar) and others.
“I liked the way Mitole (Sprint) has worked (five furlongs Tuesday in a bullet 58.80, handily from the gate for Asmussen). If you didn't like that, you don't like ice cream.
“Catalina Cruiser has trained terrific for the Sprint, and with (Jorge) Navarro's horse (Shancelot), Imperial Hint and Mitole, off of his last workout, there might not be a meltdown, but a very serious pace that might help a closer and the logical one would be Catalina Cruiser.
“I couldn't knock McKinzie's work for the Classic (seven furlongs Tuesday in 1:24.40 from the gate), but I would like him better going a mile and an eighth rather than a mile and a quarter (Classic distance).
“This is nothing against Mongolian Groom (who defeated McKinzie by 2 ¼ lengths in the Awesome Again Stakes on Sept. 28), but McKinzie was beaten by a horse that was not going to be one of the favorites in the Classic (25-1 when he won the Awesome Again).
“Where I go in the Classic, I don't know. There are still a lot of horses that probably will ship in right on top of the race and I won't have a lot of time to observe.
“The 2-year-old races (on Nov. 1) look like an interesting battle of east versus west. Usually the west has more than held its own when the races are run here, but I don't know if this year's crop is going to be that strong.
“Omaha Beach (Dirt Mile) worked well (five furlongs Wednesday in a bullet 59.60), but he had a hard race off a layoff (winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship by a head over Shancelot on Oct. 5), and he's running back in three weeks.
“He's a very, very good horse and a mile might be good for him, but the post will be very important in that race as it always is, because the race starts close to the Club House turn.”
“That said, I'm happy the Breeders' Cup is here, I don't have to travel, and I hope everything goes well. I remember the first one at Hollywood Park, and it was really big and it's continued to grow.
“I'm glad it's back at Santa Anita, even though it's been a tumultuous year.”
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