The owners of Trempolino and Highest Honor, two of the horses running Saturday in the Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park, are cutting it close.
The horses aren't scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles by plane from Paris until early this morning, and a delay of the type that nine other European horses had earlier in the week would make Trempolino and Highest Honor ineligible to run because of quarantine restrictions.
On Tuesday, a plane filled with horses from Great Britain arrived in Los Angeles five hours late because of mechanical problems.
Trempolino, winner of this year's Arc de Triomphe in Paris and scheduled to run in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Highest Honor, also a major winner in France and entered in the Mile Stakes, need to be here 36 hours before their races Saturday afternoon and blood tests of both horses must be expedited to Ames, Iowa, to be analyzed by a laboratory there.
"The chances of what happened to the English horses happening to the two French horses are remote," said Nick Clarke of the International Racing Bureau. "The English horses came on a cargo plane, so there was no backup. The French horses are coming on a commercial airliner, so I would think that if the first plane couldn't make it for some reason, there would be another plane available."
Many trainers have been successful running horses right off the plane, because they feel it doesn't give the animals a chance to get sluggish from jet lag.
The French got sold on this theory when Lashkari arrived at Hollywood Park just before the 1984 Breeders' Cup and won the Turf at 53-1. The French struck the same way last year at Santa Anita when Last Tycoon was a 35-1 surprise in the Mile.
Short Sleeves, despite running last in the 1-mile Yellow Ribbon last Sunday at Santa Anita, is being brought back to run in the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Proud Truth is the only Breeders' Cup winner who went into the race with such little rest. Proud Truth won the Classic at Aqueduct in 1985 after running at Aqueduct six days previously. The difference, however, is that Proud Truth had a successful prep, winning the Discovery Handicap over the same track where he later won the Classic.
Air Display, Candi's Gold and Tomorrow's Child will be running in a race wearing blinkers for the first time in the Breeders' Cup.
Their trainers are bucking tradition. Only three Breeders' Cup winners--Tasso, Proud Truth and Skywalker--have won while wearing blinkers.
When Gary Stevens was dumped at entry time as the rider for Short Sleeves in the Yellow Ribbon last week, it was reminiscent of another unexpected jockey switch by an owner before a big race in Chicago in 1964.
Bill Shoemaker wound up riding Sadair to victory in that year's Arlington-Washington Futurity, the richest race in the country at the time.
Shoemaker was supposed to ride another horse in the Futurity, but that colt was injured and he replaced Milo Valenzuela on Sadair.
Ted Atkinson, the Hall of Fame jockey who was a steward in Chicago then, remembers the rest of the story.
Valenzuela was offered a flat fee of $2,500 to cancel the call he had on Sadair. That didn't satisfy Valenzuela's agent, who filed a $2-million lawsuit.
"Valenzuela also was going to go into the jockeys' room to try to get the riders to boycott the race and not ride," Atkinson said. "The track barred him from the grounds that day for that reason.
"The suit was later dropped, because it was hurting Milo's business."
Pat Eddery, who has won more million-dollar races in more countries than any other jockey, has three mounts in the Breeders' Cup--Governor General in the Sprint, Milligram in the Mile and Trempolino in the Turf.
Eddery's million-dollar wins have been with Tolomeo in the Budweiser-Arlington Million, Pebbles in the Breeders' Cup Turf, Jupiter Island in the Japan Cup and Trempolino in the Arc de Triomphe.
"Theatrical is very consistent and he'll be hard to beat in the Turf," Eddery said. "I think Sonic Lady could run a big race in the Mile. She's had an easy campaign and should be very fresh for this race."
Last year, Eddery rode Dancing Brave in the Turf, and although the English horse was a 1-2 favorite, he ran fourth.
"He didn't handle the turns at all here," Eddery said. "Also, he had had a long, hard campaign before coming to America. I think that was what caught up with Reference Point, the main horse that Trempolino had to beat in the Arc.
"Trempolino should do well Saturday. He's sharp now, he's a well-balanced horse and I think he will handle the track."
Eddery has ridden Milligram only once, but that was an easy win in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, over Miesque and Sonic Lady, in late September in England.
Dancing Brave, syndicated for $25 million and sent to stud this year, became ill recently and is fighting for his life.