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Aidan O'Brien eyeing Kentucky contender Lines of Battle at Churchill Downs

Updated: Friday, 03 May 2013 15:08 | Comments

Lines Of Battle goes for glory in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs
Lines Of Battle goes for glory in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Aidan O'Brien's main thoughts this weekend will be on the first Classics of the season at Newmarket but the trainer will have one eye on the action across the Atlantic as Lines Of Battle goes for glory in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The master of Ballydoyle has become increasingly keen to land what is arguably the biggest race in America and this season's candidate has been carefully prepared for the 'Run for the Roses'.

An American-bred son of War Front, the three-year-old showed his class and ability to handle an artificial surface when winning the UAE Derby at Meydan at the end of March.

Ryan Moore has made the trip Stateside to take the ride on Saturday evening, but will jet back to Britain for the second day of Newmarket's Guineas meeting on Sunday.

"He's in good form, obviously nobody knows about (how he'll handle) the dirt until he runs on it," O'Brien told Racing UK.

"We were very happy with him in Dubai and he came out of it very well.

"He's usually a fast breaker, he travels well and he's usually tough at the end.

"We're looking forward to the race."

"He's usually a fast breaker, he travels well and he's usually tough at the end" - Aidan O'Brien

Heading the betting for the illustrious 10-furlong contest is Shug McGaughey's Florida Derby hero Orb, the mount of Joel Rosario.

"I'm really excited about the whole thing," McGaughey told www.bloodhorse.com.

"Since the Florida Derby, everything's gone well for us. I'm as excited as I've been in a long time about a race, and I'm trying to have fun with this.

"I have not been like this in a long time, maybe ever, really. I think we've got a horse that's going in the right direction, and we're excited to have the opportunity to win the Kentucky Derby, which I consider America's premier race."

Having been sidelined for almost a month by injury, Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez returned to competitive action earlier this week and he partners the Todd Pletcher-trained Verrazano in Saturday night's feature.

Verrazano, one of five runners for Pletcher, is owned by Let's Go Stables - a syndicate made up of Coolmore's Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.

"I feel very, very good. I don't think the time off will affect me at all ," said 41-year-old Velazquez.

"He's (Verrazano) a horse who's done everything right. He worked very well at Churchill Downs last week.

"I'm not surprised they made Orb the favourite - he's a very, very good horse. There are 19 other horses in the race, but obviously, he is one I fear."

Doug O'Neill trained last year's Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another and has another major contender in Goldencents.

"It's a great feeling (to be back)," O'Neill said.

"We've got a nice horse this year as well. Goldencents has got the mind, he's got the physical talents, so we're pretty pumped.

"He's a sure-footed horse and nothing seems to bother him."

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