While Godolphin and Coolmore are the reigning superpowers of global racing and breeding, Kenny Trout's WinStar Farm is not far behind as far as influence. The Versailles, Ky., operation is rising along much of the same lines as the two aforementioned titans, with a powerful racing operation, far-reaching breeding program and a 22-stallion roster that anchors on proven, world-class horseflesh such as Tiznow, Speightstown, Pioneerof the Nile and Distorted Humor.
With a slogan of “Think Big: Breed WinStar,” it is not a surprise that racing 'big' is also on the docket—and that is just what President, CEO and Racing Manager Elliott Walden has confirmed regarding this year's $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (Group 1). The operation plans to possibly start three horses in the world's richest race.
Candidates include Bill Mott-trained Yoshida, Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Battle of Midway and Todd Pletcher-trained Audible. Yoshida, a G1 winner on turf and dirt, was fourth in November's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), finishing a stride shy of passing 2018 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow. Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Battle of Midway exits a game win in the San Pasqual (G2) over McKinzie, a horse many were already planning to make the early favorite for the Dubai World Cup before said upending. Audible is a G1 winner who has won his last five starts on dry dirt, but was third in the 2018 Kentucky Derby (G1) behind Justify and fifth last out in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1)—both over sloppy surfaces.
“We're looking at (running) all three,” Walden confirmed. “(Yoshida and Battle of Midway) are definite. I'll speak to Todd (Pletcher, trainer) after Audible works this weekend.”
While WinStar, alone, is a powerful owner, which was never more evident than when its Well Armed brought the curtain down on Nad Al Sheba in the 2009 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1), aligning itself with power players such as China Horse Club, Starlight Racing Sol Kumin and Don Alberto Stables has allowed the burgeoning operation to consistently be part of the classics, as well as other high-profile events like Royal Ascot, Breeders' Cup and Pegasus. WinStar, China Horse Club, Kumin's Head of Plains Partners and Starlight were also the four owners of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify and together own both Yoshida and Audible.
Elliott, himself, is no stranger to doing well in Dubai. In his previous career as a trainer, he started four on Dubai World Cup night, including Victory Gallop (3rd, 1999) and Ecton Park (5th, 2000) in the Dubai World Cup, as well as Bet Me Best (3rd, 2000 Dubai Golden Shaheen) and Mr. John (6th, 2003 Godolphin Mile).
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