Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gitano Hernando to Bypass Breeders' Cup

Team Valor International announced Oct. 20 that Gitano Hernando, upset winner of the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) in his North American debut, will not run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.

In a statement, Team Valor said the decision was made after conferring with English-based trainer Marco Botti and Los Angeles-based racing partner Gary Barber.

“The colt just ran too hard last time and we don’t feel comfortable bringing him back in a month,” said Barry Irwin, owner of Team Valor International. "We feel that he is a prime candidate for the World Cup in Dubai next spring and that the risk to the colt by running him back at such a high level next time is too great and we don’t want to do anything to compromise his future.”

According to the release, the 3-year-old son of Hernando will return to England in November and trainer Botti’s Green Ridge Stable across the road from Newmarket race course.

“We will play it by ear,” said Botti, 32. “We have all-weather surfaces available to us in Newmarket. We could bring the colt to Dubai in January or February, or we could just show up for the big day itself. This is the type of horse that needs one good prep, as he showed in winning the Goodwood. Worse case scenario, we could work him at Lingfield or even stage our own afternoon trial if necessary. We have a lot of options.”

In addition to Botti’s success with the Goodwood winner, Irwin said another factor in pointing toward the Dubai World Cup (gr. I) was the installation of the Tapeta surface at the newly built Meydan race course in Dubai.

“We originally planned to leave Gitano Hernando in the United States,” Irwin said. “However, it would take a braver person than me to yank this colt away from this trainer after what he accomplished in the Goodwood. I am not going to break up this team.”

The Team Valor statement said Gitano Hernando will remain in light training at Santa Anita at the barn of trainer Paddy Gallagher.

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