Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is happy with how Rip Van Winkle is faring ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Saturday, and is not as concerned over his horse’s foot complaint after seeing him work out on Wednesday.
Rip Van Winkle, who won the Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes already this year, made the long trip across the Atlantic, and initial fears were that the journey has taken its toll.
"He has had a long, hard season, but we're very happy with him this morning... You just have to be careful talking about him because the feel we got out of him this morning makes you maybe say too much,” the Irish trainer told AFP.
"His foot seems fine," continued the Coolmore man. "There was a little bit of an issue on his off-hind - and that's one area that we haven't had a problem with before - but everyone's happy with it and it has been good the last week.
"He is a horse that's very exuberant - you see the movement and the action, he gives it all," O'Brien added. "Obviously the first day here the heat and everything we didn't want him to do too much. It was only hack around, really."
Rip Van Winkle is co favorite for the race with Zenyatta.
O’Brien also originally decided to enter Mastercraftsman in the Classic but later changed his mind and entered him in the Dirt Mile classic instead.
"His best form ever was in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh last year over six furlongs on fast ground when they went all the way. There was a very impressive Coventry Stakes winner in the field (Art Connoisseur) and he totally blew him out,’’ said O’Brien at Santa Anita Tuesday.
“The reason Mastercraftsman was so impressive, we believe, is that he has so much speed and the pace was so strong. Which Breeders' Cup race is he going to get the most pace? The Dirt Mile."