ARCADIA, Calif. — It is not a new experience for officials with Keeneland Race Course to travel to each year's host site for the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
With the bucolic track set to host its first Breeders' Cup in 2015, this season's venture to Santa Anita Park has taken on new significance as an educational purpose.
A contingent of Keene-land representatives has been on the grounds at Santa Anita since arriving on Sunday, soaking in big-picture logistics that go into hosting the two-day event as well as key details involving such issues as security, customer relations and ticketing.
"We usually come but not as much in numbers," said Keeneland's vice president of racing, Rogers Beasley. "There are a lot of people here who have different things they need to be responsible for so (Keeneland president) Bill Thomason wanted to be sure that everyone involved was going to get a taste of what they'll have to deal with."
Trying to pull too much from Santa Anita is a challenge as the Arcadia track has a far larger facility and seating capacity than boutique Keeneland will be able to offer.
Seeing firsthand how aspects like the quarantine barn are handled are the types of things that will be invaluable toward Keeneland's preparation. Beasley said that all of next year's Breeders' Cup horses will be housed in the Rice Road area barns in order to be able to restrict access to the public.
Keeneland traditionally has an open backstretch policy; the public is welcome.
"I just went over with the quarantine people this morning to see if there was anything different than what we had in the past, get up to speed to all that," Beasley said. "Then there are things like the European horses come out on the turf and there can't be other horses at that time, all those little things. We have foreign horses there (at Keeneland) but we don't get them in numbers you have here."
With the 2015 Breeders' Cup horses slated to be in the Rice Road barns, Beasley said Keeneland is already working on contingency plans to take care of the horsemen — like Charlie LoPresti, trainer of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan — who regularly keep horses in those barns.
"The good thing is you're working with Breeders' Cup who does this at every track so they've got protocols," Beasley said.
Aktabantay out of Juvenile Turf; Faithful Creek in
After Aktabantay trained well over the course Thursday morning, trainer Hugo Palmer announced that the Group III winner has been withdrawn from Friday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf because of a sore foot.
"He worked and moved really well this morning and I was growing in confidence about his chances in Friday's race," Palmer said. "Unfortunately, that confidence did not last long as he was found to have a sore foot when he returned back to the barn and I had to make the decision to scratch him."
"We are now looking forward to the spring and we will be aiming him at the 2,000 Guineas," Palmer added.
The defection of Aktabantay allows Faithful Creek to draw in for trainer Brian Meehan with jockey Kieren Fallon slated to ride.
The son of Bushranger has pleased Meehan, who has been trackside for the past two days.
"We are obviously pleased to be getting a run but not in circumstances like this," Meehan said. "Kieren Fallon, who will be on board tomorrow, got on the horse this morning and said that he gave him a really nice feel and we have the horse in really great shape."