Pin It

Aidan O’Brien Seeks Man o’War Repeat

cape blanco
In 53 runnings, the Grade 1 Man o’ War has been won by the same trainer in consecutive years six times, most recently by Christophe Clement in 2009 and 2010 with Gio Ponti.

On Saturday, trainer Aidan O’Brien will attempt to become the first foreign-based trainer to achieve the feat when he sends out 4-year-old Treasure Beach in the 1 3/8-mile turf race.

Last year, O’Brien sent Group 1 Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco from his Ballydoyle training base in Ireland to win the Man o’ War and deny Gio Ponti his third straight victory in the race. It was the beginning of a championship campaign for Cape Blanco, who made separate trips to the United States later in the year to add wins in the Grade 1 Arlington Million and Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational en route to Eclipse honors for Champion Male Turf Horse.

“Cape Blanco’s success certainly encouraged us to come back and have another go with Treasure Beach,” O’Brien said via email. “Like Cape Blanco, he’s an Irish Derby winner by Galileo with a great disposition, and he seems to have the tactical speed required for the North American style of racing.”

In 2011, Treasure Beach, who races for owners Mrs. Fitri Hay, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Michael Tabor, has made two previous trips to North America, winning the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington Park and finishing third in the Grade 1 Canadian International in October at Woodbine. In two 2012 starts, he was fourth in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March at Meydan Racecourse and ninth in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in April at Sha Tin in Hong Kong.

“He was drawn very wide in Sha Tin, which certainly didn’t help, and, although he won the Secretariat Stakes on yielding ground, I have no doubt that he’s better on a faster surface,” said O’Brien.

While O’Brien did not rule out the possibility of Treasure Beach making additional cross-Atlantic journeys later in the year, the trainer said what Cape Blanco accomplished in 2011 might have been a once-in-a-lifetime feat.

“What Cape Blanco achieved was truly remarkable and may never be repeated,” said O’Brien. “We’ll just see how Treasure Beach gets on at Belmont and then take it from there.”

In addition to Clement, the other trainers who have won back-to-back editions of the Man o’ War are Elliott Burch (1970, Fort Marcy; 1971, Run the Gauntlet), John Russell (1976, Effervescing; 1977, Majestic Light), Joseph Cantey (1983-84, Majesty’s Prince), Pat Kelly (1991-92, Solar Splendor), and Jonathan Sheppard (2001-02, With Anticipation).

–NYRA Press release

Cape Blanco/NYRA Photo