Aktabantay will bid to crown an already memorable season for Hugo Palmer tomorrow by capturing this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
After providing the Newmarket trainer with his first-ever Group race victory earlier this season when scoring in the Group Three European Wealth Solario Stakes at Sandown, the two-year old will attempt to give the Newmarket trainer his first winner at the highest level by landing the Grade One mile event at Santa Anita, California.
On his sole attempt at racing in top level company in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp last time out, the son of Oasis Dream finished an ever-closing sixth.
“Aktabantay has travelled over to America well and is enjoying the sunshine on his back and I could not be happier with him,” said Palmer. “He had a canter on the track on Tuesday and his work rider said that he loved the ground.
“It is almost that the run in Longchamp has brought him on as he seems much better after the race than he did before it.”
With the draw being crucial to Aktabantay’s chances of success, the 33-year-old is happy enough with the slot in stall nine his young stable star has received.
“In an ideal world we would have been drawn in either stall five or six, but I was hoping we would be drawn somewhere between three and nine,” said Palmer. “A double-figure draw would have made life very difficult so stall nine is the highest I wanted to be.”
Although official ratings suggest the two-time race winner has a bit to find over several of his rivals in the race, Palmer is confident the Ibrahim Araci-owned colt is more than up to the task.
“Basically he is rated 108 and the top-rated horse in the race is rated 113 so he has got five-pounds of improvement to find,” said Palmer. “However, I think the extra furlong will help him as he has been crying out for a mile and there is a great chance of him finding that improvement.
“At the end of the day, it is hugely exciting to have a runner in such a race and I feel very lucky to have a horse good enough to come out here and be part of the meeting.”
Aktabantay will be one of two Newmarket-based runners to contest the race with the Charlie Fellowes-trained Wet Sail also set to take his chance in the event.
The pair will form part of a six-strong contingent of runners from the town to appear at the two day meeting.
Twenty-four hours later the Sir Michael Stoute trained pair of Telescope and Dank will take part in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and Filly and Mare Turf respectively, while on the same card David Simcock will saddle Trade Storm, winner of the Grade One Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes, in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Caspar Netscher in the Turf Sprint.