ARCADIA, Cali. — The unsung heros of the 2008 Breeders' Cup World Championships, Robert and Janice McNair, now have the opportunity to enjoy some accolades all their own.
Though the McNair's Stonerside Stable was the breeder of record for Juvenile winner Midshipman and Classic winner Raven's Pass, last season had a bittersweet tinge for the owner of the NFL's Houston Texans.
After developing Stonerside into one the top breeding programs in the industry, the McNairs sold their operation to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stud less than two months before last year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.
The one horse the McNairs did retain, however, was their homebred colt Cowboy Cal. On Saturday, the dark bay son of Giant's Causeway will attempt to give them their first Breeders' Cup win as owners when he starts in the $2 million Mile.
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A winner of more than $1 million to date, the 4-year-old is coming off a three-quarter length score in the Grade II Oak Tree Mile in his first start over the Santa Anita turf course.
"We're just tickled to death to be here," said John Adger, longtime racing manager for the McNairs. "I think he's in the best form he's ever been in. He seems to love Southern California so we feel he will run a good race."
Adger said he was thrilled to watch two Stonerside-bred horses win Cup races last year.
"I've been in the business for over 40 years, and my proudest day in racing was last year at the Breeders' Cup," Adger said. "All of us were very excited because that has been our goal — to raise and breed good horses."
Adger said the McNairs have one other horse in training, a colt by Galileo named Texan Star that they own in partnership with trainer John Gosden, who conditioned Raven's Pass.
"To produce a Classic and Juvenile winner on the same day in itself is pretty record breaking," Gosden said of the McNairs. "It usually takes people 50 years to get to the point they got to in 14 years."
Allegre out of Turf
Eagle Oak Ranch and partners' 4-year-old stakes winner Allegre was scratched from Saturday's $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf. The son of Orientate did not go to the track to train Thursday morning, and trainer Brian Koriner notified officials that he was found to have an abscess in his right front foot.
Lillie Langtry creates drama
Trainer Aidan O'Brien had an interesting start to his morning. While leading his Ballydoyle contingent through their morning exercise on the track, his Juvenile Fillies Turf contender Lillie Langtry dumped her rider.
O'Brien hopped off his pony and got on 'Lillie' himself, galloping her with no helmet or safety vest. O'Brien later said the filly became frightened and dropped the rider, who held on to the reins.
"She got a little detached from the others and got confused," O'Brien said. "When she started looking, she was like a child after losing her mommy. She didn't know whether to go forward or backward. And she couldn't see the other horses.
"She was in a confused state, and we had to get her into her own comfort zone quick."