Favourable Classic draw for O’Brien pair

AN ENCOURAGING draw for Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade saw the five-time Group One winner shortened in the market for Saturday night’s $5 million (€3.82m) Breeders’ Cup Classic.

A dreaded wide berth was avoided last night by both Duke of Marmalade and Ballydoyle stablemate Henrythenavigator, the latter handed the five spot, the former the fourth place in the Post Position draw for the 12-horse field.

That moved William Hills to cut Duke of Marmalade, the four-year-old son of Danehill, from 8/1 to 7/1.

Breeders Cup Classic favourite Curlin, though, was shortened further in the market last night following the draw for Saturday’s main event.

The defending champion and Dubai World Cup winner was handed the ninth stall at Santa Anita for the mile-and-a-quarter showdown. Installed as 7/5 favourite on the official morning line odds, the draw prompted Corals to cut Curlin to 5/2 from 11/4, while Hills moved the 2007 Horse of the Year in from 5/2 to 2/1.

John Gosden’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Raven’s Pass, drawn eighth, was second favourite at 6/1 with Go Between next at 8/1 followed by Henrytheneavigator and Duke of Marmalade as well as unbeaten Japanese star Casino Drive on 10/1.

European fancy Goldikova was handed the perfect draw for her Breeders’ Cup Mile bid.

With an early first bend from the mile starting post at Santa Anita on Saturday, the draw was of particular importance in this race and the Freddie Head-trained Prix du Moulin winner was handed a peach post position for jockey Oliver Peslier at number four in the 11-horse field.

The defection of Raven’s Pass to the Breeders’ Cup Classic had made Goldikova the hot favourite even before the draw but with Awesome Gem being steered into this race rather than the Classic, the bookmakers declined to shorten Goldikova further, with Corals leaving her at 6/4, still the shortest priced of the European challengers.

O’Brien’s US Ranger was also dealt a good hand at the California track and will go off in the same race from the number seven position.

The four-year-old son of Danzig, third last time out over seven furlongs in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamps behind Paco Boy and Natagora, will again be partnered by regular jockey Johnny Murtagh.

Murtagh also rides Lord Admiral for Charles O’Brien in Saturday’s Breeders Cup Dirt Mile but the seven-year-old, was drawn on the outside in 12th.

The Ballydoyle contingent touched down in Los Angeles on Monday night following a transatlantic flight and were housed in the quarantine barn at Santa Anita, where they will remain until tonight before getting their first look at the track on Thursday morning.

King of Rome, which had been entered in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon over a mile and a half, and Filly & Mare Sprint challenger Psalm, did not make the trip from Ireland, still leaving O’Brien with a hand also including Halfway to Heaven, Heart Shaped, Red Rock Canyon, Soldier of Fortune and Westphalia.

Westphalia moved from 14/1 to 10/1 with Hills for the Juvenile Turf, while Heart Shaped was shortened to 10/1 from 14s despite an outside draw in Friday’s Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Dermot Weld’s Winchester, a fancied runner in the Turf, arrived earlier on Monday, as did Tommy Stack’s Beyond Our Reach, which goes in Friday’s Juvenile Fillies Turf, and David Wachman’s Bushranger and Pursuit of Glory.

The Wachman duo were both handed unfavourable draws in their races, with Corals pushing out Bushranger in the Juvenile from 5/1 to 6/1, a move followed by Hills, and Pursuit of Glory from 8/1 to 11s in the Juvenile Fillies.

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