This is the first in a series of profiles of the contenders for the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic. The first horse is one of two entries owned by Irish giant Ballydoyle, the racing arm of Coolmore stud.
Horse: Await the Dawn
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Morning Line Odds: Scratched; with run in Breeders' Cup Turf
Career Record (Str-1st-2nd-3rd): 7-5-0-1
Career Earnings: $300,805
Pedigree: Sired by Giant's Causeway out of a Dixieland Band mare (Valentine Band)
Giant's Causeway was a multiple Group 1 winner, the 2000 European Horse of the Year, and runner-up to Tiznow in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic. He also sired 2009 Breeders' Cup Marathon winner Man of Iron.
Key Stakes Wins: Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (Turf; Ascot, England), Group 3 Huxley Stakes (Turf; Chester, England), Group 3 Kilternan Stakes (Turf; Leopardstown, Ireland)
Overview: European raider Await the Dawn is cross-entered in the Breeders' Cup Turf, so there is a good chance this colt will run in that race and not the Classic. If he runs in the Classic, it will be Await the Dawn's first attempt to race over a dirt surface.
Await the Dawn faces the same challenges that almost every single horse from Europe faces when they attempt to make the transition from racing on turf to racing on dirt: running style and pace. European courses generally have a non-oval, undulating layout that places a premium on stamina, not speed. American dirt courses place an emphasis on speed due to the fact that all races are run around one or two turns and dirt surfaces are much harder than grass, which increases the effectiveness of early speed.
In his races in Europe on the grass, Await the Dawn usually runs just behind the lead horses in the early stages, sitting a few lengths off the front. But due to the way races are run in Europe, the pace tends to be much slower in the early going. Await the Dawn, if he runs in the Classic, will find the pace to be much quicker than what he is used to in Europe, which will require him to do one of two things: use more energy in the early stages in order to stay close to the pace, or conserve that energy at the risk of finding himself much farther behind the leaders than he normally does. Both of those situations are far from ideal because the horse ends up running a much different race than he's used to running. In essence, he'll be out of his comfort zone.
Await the Dawn is a solid, stakes winning horse in Europe, and has proven himself over a variety of distances and conditions. However, he's likely to find winning the Breeders' Cup Classic to be a monumental challenge given the quality of his rivals in this race. As a result, he's a much better fit for the Breeders' Cup Turf.