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Mastercraftsman romps at Dundalk, eyes Breeders' Cup

It is next stop Santa Anita for the Aidan O'Brien-trained MASTERCRAFTSMAN (Danehill Dancer), winner of this season's Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) and St James's Palace S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot, after his easy success in Friday evening's Diamond S. (Ire-G3) at Dundalk.

The Diamond is one of 11 European races in the Breeders' Cup Challenge, guaranteeing the winner a place in the Breeders' Cup Marathon, but O'Brien has his sights on another prize at Santa Anita, either the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) or the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) on November 7.

Mastercraftsman rolled to a five-length victory over Fiery Lad (Mull of Kintyre) in the extended 10-furlong ace on Polytrack.

"I'm delighted with that performance," Ireland's champion trainer said. "There was no pussy-footing around and they went a very strong gallop. Johnny (Murtagh), as per usual, kept very cool and he knows the horse better than anyone.

"You'd have to be very impressed with that performance and Johnny said when he went to follow the leaders he probably got there a bit too soon. He is a great horse and showed all his class.

"He's proved he can go on the (synthetic) surface and cruised home. He will definitely go to Santa Anita, probably for the Classic -- though he's in the Mile too -- along with RIP VAN WINKLE (Galileo [Ire]). If both horses are well, I imagine they will run in the Breeders' Cup Classic."

Sent off the 2-9 favorite, Mastercraftsman was settled in third by Murtagh as stable companion Augustusthestrong (A.P. Indy) led initially and then Via Galilei (Galileo [Ire]) took over the pacesetting role.

The eventual winner was 15 lengths back at one stage but made progress turning for home and closed on the weakening leaders strongly at the two-furlong pole. He led within another half furlong and went clear under a hands and heels ride. The time for the 10 furlongs and 150 yards was 2:12.18.

The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 63 races whose winners earn qualifying positions into a corresponding race at the World Championships, following the payment of applicable entry fees on October 26.

Following Friday's Diamond S., there are two more European races still to come in the Breeders' Cup Challenge. The Prix de l'Abbaye (Fr-G1) at Longchamp on Sunday, for which the winner earns a place in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, and the Champion S. (Eng-G1) at Newmarket on October 17, for which the victor is guaranteed a place in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf (G1).


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