Having won America’s premiere turf race for two-year-old males, Mendelssohn might try the dirt variety next year, as trainer Aidan O’Brien said the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner could target the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.
O’Brien is referring to the European portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby (points races) with a pair of 20-points-to-the-winner races at Kempton and Dundalk in early March and a 30-points-to-the-winner in the Burradon Stakes on March 30 at Newcastle.
O’Brien had considered both Mendelssohn and the horse who finished ahead of him in the Darley Dewhurst—U.S. Navy Flag—for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on dirt but opted to keep Mendelssohn on the turf with Dewhurst winner U.S. Navy Flag to the Juvenile.
“[Mendelssohn] is a late foal, so physically he’s very big and strong, and every week he’s getting better,” O’Brien said. “We knew that he was kind of a really American dirt pedigree horse, but we felt we didn’t want to stop the progression, which is why we left him on the grass rather than putting him on dirt when he wasn’t ready for it.”
Clarkland Farm bred Mendelssohn in Kentucky out of Leslie’s Lady by Coolmore’s late sire Scat Daddy, and it was Coolmore that went to $3-million for the half-brother to three-time champion and Breeders’ Cup winner Beholder.