DES MOINES, Iowa (Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019) -- Having beaten America's best 1 1/2-mile turf specialists in his last start, Donegal Racing's Grade 1-winning turf star Arklow takes on the world next in the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
Arklow comes in off a win in the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Oct. 5 at Belmont Park and a second two starts back in the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs.
The 5-year-old horse will be Donegal Racing’s 10th Breeders’ Cup starter in 10 years. Arklow finished fourth against the world’s finest grass horses in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.
“The Breeders’ Cup Turf will be incredibly tough,” said Donegal founder Jerry Crawford. “But as the top point leader in his division Arklow deserves this chance to be the best of the best!”
Arklow will be ridden by Javier Castellano for the first time since winning a maiden race at Keeneland's 2017 spring meet under the Hall of Fame jockey.
“I don’t know if Arklow can beat Bricks and Mortar or the Europeans,” said Arklow’s trainer Brad Cox. “But I do know that Arklow is coming into the race 100 percent physically and just had one of the finest workouts in his life at Churchill on Saturday.” Arklow was timed in 47 4/5 seconds, the fastest of 72 half-mile works at the distance over Churchill Downs’ dirt track.
“Arklow continues Donegal’s incredible run of racing success” said Oracle Bloodstock consultant Conor Foley. “It is hard to imagine there are many partnerships that have won as much or spent as little as Donegal. In addition to their Breeders’ Cup success, they have also won six Grade I stakes in the last eight years, including their epic win with Keen Ice over American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers.”
Arklow, a $160,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase, has won six of 23 starts for earnings of $1,776,382. The son of the late Claiborne Farm stallion Arch has achieved a graded-stakes victory at age 3, 4 and 5, including last year’s Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup. Donegal sold 25-percent interest in Arklow to Joseph Bulger and Peter Coneway after a victory in Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 American Turf on the 2017 Kentucky Derby card.
In the Joe Hirsch, which brought together the premier 1 1/2-mile turf horses in the country, Arklow not only avenged his second to Zulu Alpha at Kentucky Downs but beat four other Grade or Group1 winners that narrowly defeated the Donegal runner in the past.
“Racing luck and getting the trip is so important in turf racing,” Crawford said. “Arklow might not win every race, but one thing we can absolutely bet on is that he will try hard. That makes him a serious contender every time he is loaded into the starting gate, and it’s why we believe Arklow could deliver our first Breeders’ Cup winner.”
Donegal’s partners include Nick Nurse, coach of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors.
"Having Arklow in the Breeders’ Cup Turf is yet another accolade for Donegal and its knack for finding inexpensive horses that end up running in the biggest races," Nurse said. "Nothing in horse racing is a slam dunk, but Donegal sure has a knack for hitting the 3 and I'm thrilled to be a partner. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the Breeders' Cup as we have just started the defense of our NBA title. However, I hope my phone is blowing up the night of Nov. 2 with texts that I've been part of another world championship."
Donegal Racing was founded in 2008 and two years later had its first Breeders’ Cup starter as Paddy O’Prado, a Grade 1 winner on turf and the Kentucky Derby third-place finisher, came in fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The partnership has had at least one Breeders’ Cup starter every year since with the exception of 2013. Keen Ice was third in the 2016 Classic after taking fourth in 2015.
Donegal also has won Grade 1 races with Dullahan (who was third in the 2012 Kentucky Derby), Finnegans Wake and Carrick. Unlike some partnerships, where horses are syndicated individually, Donegal partners buy into an entire crop of horses purchased each year so that everyone shares in the success.
Coglianese Photography photos: Arklow winning Belmont Park's Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic