ARCADIA, Calif. — The comparisons between Group III winner Anodin and his legendary sister Goldikova are easy to make. And according to Freddy Head, who trained both, they need to stop right now.
"The comparison with his sister is stupid. I mean, you can't compare them," the former champion jockey in France turned Breeders' Cup-winning trainer said. "They are different in their temperament and everything. He's much nicer. She was very brutal."
Goldikova was nobody's pet in the barn. But Anodin's full sister was particularly vicious in her Breeders' Cup showings, winning the Mile an unprecedented three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010.
Kinder in disposition and more impressive in physical presence, Anodin will try to become his own man Saturday by emulating a bit of his brilliant sister's actions when he seeks to continue a history of excellence in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile.
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The Breeders' Cup Mile has been Head's personal playground throughout his career. As a jockey, he won the race aboard Miesque in 1987 and '88. His skill as a trainer was flaunted in his handling of the feisty Goldi kova, who remains the only horse to win three Breeders' Cup races.
Anodin has been a test of a different sort. The bay son of Anabaa took some time to mature. Gentle though he might be to handle, getting him to relax and wait in his races has been Head's point of emphasis.
"He was a very unlucky horse; he's a horse who has to stay, he has to be relaxed," Head said. "He can be a bit keen, so it's not easy to ride him. But he's improving a lot this year. His best races were going a mile."
In 13 starts, Anodin has only a pair of victories, the last being his triumph in France's Group III Prix Paul de Moussac at Chantilly. Should one judge the colt by the company he keeps, his presence in the Breeders' Cup Mile is noteworthy more so than for just his notable family and trainer.
Owned by the Wertheimer brothers, the same connections who own Goldikova, Anodin has accounted himself well against some of Europe's best. In the Group I Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp in May, he was second to globe-trotting multiple Group I winner Cirrus des Aigles. A run-in with another multiple Group I winner, Toronado — the morning-line favorite for the Mile — came when Anodin ran a good third in the Group I Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Then it was the brilliant Kingman who got the best of him in the Group I Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Aug. 17.
"Of course, Toronado has beat us, but I'm very faithful, right now," Head said. "I feel he'll adapt to the racecourse here, and he's well. He's the kind of horse who has a lot of speed and he has to wait. But we do need a bit of luck, I mean 14 runners is a bit too much from my point of view."
In Head's opinion, a lack of luck denied Anodin a Group I glory in his most recent outing.
In the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on Oct. 5, Anodin had to check during the race, losing all momentum, but he still finished well enough to get fifth, beaten only 41/4 lengths by Olympic Glory.
He will need some pace to run at to have his best day in Saturday's Mile, but Head thinks the firm course at Santa Anita will give his latest charge every chance to score a career-defining win before he heads off to stud next season.
"The Wertheimers, they love coming here and they love the Breeders' Cup so ... when he was second in Deauville they wanted to come here and have a try," Head said. "It's funny to come back with a brother (to Goldikova); all this has been special. I'm not superstitious, but you never know; lightning can strike another time."
Being asked how his charge compares to his champion turf distaffer is something Head probably will have to get used to again.
Goldikova's yearling son by Galileo joined his yard two weeks ago, he said. One commonality he would like all of the family to share is a Breeders' Cup triumph.
"He's a very nice, very nice colt," Head said of Goldikova's first offspring. "So we may come with him in two years time and run here."