Friday’s Patton S. at Dundalk is likely to go to an O’Brien-trained horse. But will it be one of Aidan O’Brien’s trio, or son Joseph’s duo who will pick up points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby?
Joseph has the likely favorite in unbeaten Crossfirehurricane. Although not Triple Crown nominated, the Kitten’s Joy colt has an American owner – Scott Heider, who bred him in partnership with Glen Hill Farm in Kentucky. The chestnut scored in his debut on the Limerick turf last June, but wasn’t seen again until Feb. 7 on the Dundalk Polytrack where he rolled by 3 1/2 lengths. Crossfirehurricane is regarded highly enough to have classic entries in both Ireland and France.
Stablemate Choice of Mine, who is a Triple Crown nominee, also sports entries in French and Irish classics. The Charles Fipke homebred has an unusual background as an Australian-foaled colt but bred on Northern Hemisphere time. Choice of Mine has raced exclusively on all-weather surfaces so far, winning second time out on Dec. 18 at this track and mile trip.
Father Aidan’s entrants – New World Tapestry, King of Athens, and Battle of Liege – are all War Front colts eligible for the Triple Crown as well as various European classic options.
New World Tapestry ran well in a pair of Curragh maidens before breaking through at Newmarket last fall. Under Breeders’ Cup consideration, he ended up going to the rescheduled Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) Nov. 1 and fading to eighth on the Newcastle Tapeta. His poor effort might have had more to do with tackling a top race at that stage than a distaste for the all-weather. In any event, New World Tapestry is the only Patton contender to have participated in a European Road scoring race.
King of Athens, in contrast, excelled when switching surfaces. Winless in his first four starts on turf, he romped by five on the Lingfield Polytrack Oct. 31 and keeps jockey Seamie Heffernan. Stablemate Battle of Liege likewise earned his first win Nov. 2 on Polytrack at Chelmsford.
Much more on the three Ballydoyle runners can be found in the feature on the European-based Triple Crown nominees.
Of the other five entrants, the Tony Mullins-trained Howling Wolf has appeal as a Leopardstown maiden winner who tried the KPMG Champions Juvenile (G2) on Irish Champions Weekend. The son of Footstepsinthesand is likely better than his last-of-seven effort that day.
Two fillies hope to take advantage of the 5-pound weight break from the boys. Jessica Harrington sends out In the Present, exposed on turf last season but a recent maiden winner over the track. Note that the Niarchos Family homebred is by up-and-coming sire Karakontie, responsible for Sam F. Davis (G3) hero Sole Volante.
Orchid Gardens, second in both starts here for Michael Halford, chased Crossfirehurricane home in her latest. Fellow maidens Dutch Admiral, a distant fourth behind Crossfirehurricane, and Wonder Elzaam have a tall task.
Worth points on a 20-8-4-2 scale, the Patton is worth twice as much as the European Road races from last fall, so we’ll have a new leader come Friday evening in Ireland. Post time is 2 p.m. (ET), and you can watch and wager at TwinSpires.com.