Barry Arnason cut his hunting trip short this week, but he wasn't complaining while bouncing around Manitoba's outback in a pickup. Neither did the ducks, who get to fly another day, all because their nemesis needed to be at Santa Anita, Calif., for the Breeders' Cup by this morning.
The Manitoba Jockey Club director is part of an impressive Winnipeg presence at the Breeders' Cup that runs today and Saturday. More specifically, he gets his baptism in the $1-million Dirt Mile, which is one of five races scheduled for today, and could be considered a Manitoba horse vs. Manitoba owner showdown.
Arnason is a partial owner, along with Team Valor International, of Brazilian-bred Brujo de Olleros, who will run in the Sprint.
But wait, there's more. He'll go head-to-head with Goldenscents, a colt born to an Assiniboia Downs' mare, who made waves when he qualified to run in the Kentucky Derby last spring. In all, 14 races featuring a purse value of $25 million make up the Breeders' Cup.
Brujo de Olleros, who'll be ridden by Alan Garcia, boasts an impressive record. This year he has won one of three starts, finishing second twice, for $130,000. Over his two-year career, he has won five of 10 and finished second three times, earning $202,623.
"Yeah, this is my first shot (at a Breeders' Cup) for sure," said Arnason. "We bought this horse about two years ago, for something in the range of $400,000 to $500,000. I'm not exactly sure.
"At first, he had some problems acclimatizing to North America, but it is really nice to see that he has progressed, and he's coming along fine now. He'll be rubbing shoulders with the best there is... but he's been improving all along, and he has a legitimate chance."
Goldenscents, who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, is no stranger to Winnipeggers. He won the Santa Anita Derby last spring, but in the Kentucky Derby finished 17th on a sloppy track. The colt, whose mother Golden Works was bred by Winnipegger Phil Kives, bounced back nicely, finishing second in three stakes races.
One other person with local connections will play a part in the Breeders' Cup. Winnipeg-born jockey Chantal Sutherland-Kruse has four rides, including the sixth on Saturday, where she'll ride Great Hot in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.