ARCADIA, Ca. — He didn't know it at the time, but the weekend of the 2013 Breeders' Cup was a game-changer in the career of California-based trainer Sean McCarthy.
Last November, Gallant Stable, the owners of hard-knocking but injury prone Majestic Harbor, were able to ship the bay horse to McCarthy when they got a half-priced flight going out with some Breeders' Cup-bound contenders. Since joining McCarthy, Majestic Harbor has become a Breeders' Cup contender himself as he is slated to break from post No. 14 in Saturday's $5 million Classic.
Previously trained by Paul McGee, Majestic Harbor had finished recovering from an injury he suffered after getting cast (stuck) in his stall when the decision to try him out on the West Coast was tossed around.
In his first outing for McCarthy, the son of Rockport Harbor ran second in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes over the Santa Anita Park track on January 11.
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After earning his first graded stakes score in the Grade III Tokyo City, Majestic Harbor pulled an upset two starts later when he won the Grade I Gold Cup by 61/4 lengths at Santa Anita on June 28.
"When he got here to me he got here in great shape and he got here a year ago right now," McCarthy said. "He never looked back all year long. His first race was the San Pasqual and that really lit the candle on the rest of his campaign that he had the ability to be at that level. So we continued on he's responded really well."
Majestic Harbor comes into the Classic off a fourth place finish in the Grade I Awesome Again on September 27. But with the handicap division turned upside down with its top stars either injured or retired, there is a real opening for the bay horse to really disrupt the establishment should he upset the Breeders' Cup field.
"I thought to myself what are the writers going to do if an older horse wins this race because everyone is talking about the 3-year-olds," McCarthy laughed. "I think the older horse division is competitive, you just don't have a dominating horse."
Secret Circle, Private Zone on worktab
Secret Circle, Indianapolis and One Lucky Dane, the three members of trainer Bob Baffert's seven-horse Breeders' Cup contingent put in their final works Monday morning.
With regular rider Martin Garcia in the irons, defending Breeders' Cup Sprint champion Secret Circle worked four furlongs in 47 flat.
Indianapolis also worked a four furlongs in company with a stablemate in 46 flat and Juvenile entrant One Lucky Dane went the same distance in 472⁄5 under Rafael Bejarano.
Breeders' Cup Sprint contender Private Zone worked an easy half mile in 492⁄5 while fellow Sprint entrants Palace and Mico Margarita worked the same distance in 462⁄5 and 491⁄5 respectively.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas worked two of his Breeders' Cup hopefuls, sending Juvenile contender Mr. Z though a half in 484⁄5 and Juvenile Fillies entrant Take Charge Brandi four furlongs in 49 flat.