ARCADIA, Calif. — With 41 career starts, the 6-year-old Presious Passion is by far the most experienced member of the field for Saturday's $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf.
And like an old veteran, the chestnut gelding is stubbornly set in his ways.
If there is one guarantee for this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships, it's that Presious Passion will be setting the pace for his seven rivals in the 11/2-mile Turf.
The quirky, multiple Grade I winner has become infamous for his dramatic catch-me-if-you-can style as he often opens up huge leads in the early going while retaining some kick for the final drive.
During a 2-length win in the Grade I United Nations Handicap at Monmouth on July 4, Presious Passion established a 20-length lead through the first half-mile.
In his most recent score, a 21/2-length victory in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch at Santa Anita on October 11, the earner of more than $2 million was clear by 6 lengths down the backstretch before coming home with only mild urging from jockey Elvis Trujillo.
"(Defending Turf winner) Conduit has a big late kick and Presious has never met a horse with a kick like that," said his trainer Mary Hartmann, who is one of eight female trainers with a horse in the Breeders' Cup this year. "But he won't be looking back, and he could take the Europeans out of their game the way he runs.
"You have to let him do what he wants to do. He knows how he likes to run, and he's been good at it. No reason to change now."
O'Brien going all natural
Trainer Aidan O'Brien's philosophy with regard to using the anti-bleeder medication Lasix in the Breeders' Cup was "when in Rome..."
Now, Coolmore Stud's head trainer is opting to stick with what got his horses here in the first place.
Although O'Brien had previously given his horses Lasix for their Breeders' Cup races, only one of his seven starters this year — Man of Iron in the Breeders' Cup Marathon — is slated to receive the medication this season.
Unlike in the United States, race-day medications are not allowed in Europe. Thus, O'Brien's runners were often getting Lasix for the first time in the Breeders' Cup.
"I suppose our philosophy was when in Rome, do as the Romans do," O'Brien said Wednesday. "Our Breeders' Cup horses before, they did run on Lasix, you know, but ... we reckon if we can get them here to perform near the level they come to at home, you imagine they would have big chances.
"Who knows really what is the right thing, but we decided we're going to be natural and do what we've been doing all year this time."
California Flag gives connections scare
In what trainer Brian Koriner called "just a big heart-beater," California Flag — the morning-line favorite for the Turf Sprint — dumped his rider and ran off the wrong way through the stretch Wednesday during his regular training session.
Koriner said the gelded son of Avenue of Flags was fine back at the barn following the mid-morning incident.