BY BROCK SHERIDAN
Florida-bred Clapton went four furlongs in :48.60 Saturday morning at Santa Anita in his final work before the Grade 1, $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic to be run next Saturday at the Great Race Place.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the featured event for the 40th running of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships consisting of 14 races with purses and awards totaling more than $31 million. “Future Stars Friday” features five World Championships races exclusively for 2-year-olds. There will be nine Breeders’ Cup Championship races on the Saturday program.
Trainer Chad Summers said he was very pleased with the morning breeze by Clapton while not looking for any serious production out of the son of Arindel stallion Brethern. Clapton races in the black and orange silks of Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi’s RRR Racing.
Chad Summers – Kurtis Coady, Coady Photography
“He went super,” Summers said to Wire to Wire Saturday via telephone from Arcadia, Ca. “We got over here last Saturday, so we just wanted to get a feel of the track and go an easy half-mile with a big gallop out. Obviously with the race being a mile-and-a-quarter, we didn’t want to do too much just a week out. So he went :48 and three, galloped out [five furlongs in 1:00.60], galloped out [six furlongs in 1:13.80], galloped out [seven furlongs] in 1:27.
“We couldn’t be happier with what we had. We’re very, very happy today.”
Clapton was first on the also-eligible list after pre-entries were announced Wednesday, but is now in the body of the prestigious race with the unfortunate injury of Geaux Rocket Ride during training on Saturday.
The Breeders’ Cup press office announced in a press release Saturday that Geaux Rocket Ride sustained an open condylar fracture with intersesmoidian ligament damage to his right front leg. Geaux Rocket Ride was taken via equine ambulance to the Southern California Equine Foundation equine hospital at Santa Anita Park and has since been transferred to his barn to undergo additional evaluation and diagnostics to determine the appropriate course of action.
Bred in Florida by Arindel, Clapton raced for his breeder during the first 22 starts of his career before RRR Racing purchased the 4-year-old colt before his fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup won by Bright Future at Saratoga on Sept. 2.
Clapton will officially draw into the Breeders’ Cup Classic Monday during the post position draw, but Summers was adamant when discussing the chestnut colt’s qualifications including a victory in the Grade 3 Ghostzapper at Gulfstream Park on April 1.
“Starting with the great job that Arindel has done with him—winning the Ghostzapper, third in the [Grade 3] Pimlico Special and second in the [Grade 2] Suburban – just off of that and then beaten two lengths in the [Grade 1] Jockey Club Gold Cup after a really wide trip and winning the [Grade 2] Lukas Classic, we thought we had already done enough to get an opportunity to run in the race,” Summers said. “We were a little bit surprised that a few of these horses got in over us.
“We took the chance to come out here a little bit early. So we didn’t want to have our ball and then have to go home without playing.
“We’re trying to be Florida-bred Horse of the Year but we feel like we have to beat our other horse in Isolate. So we’re hoping to have a good [FTBOA] awards show [in Ocala].”
RRR Racing purchased Florida-bred Isolate from Reeves Thoroughbred Racing following his second-place finish to Miles Ahead in the 2022 Louisville Thoroughbred Society at Churchill Downs last September. Summers and his new owners then took Isolate to Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, U.A.E., where he finished second in two Group 3 stakes before winning the Group 2 Godolphin Mile Sponsored by One Zaabeel in March.
“We purchased [Clapton] with the idea of going to Dubai for the  World Cup but it’s ironic that they’re both Florida-breds,” Summers said. “We know the Florida-bred program very well. Imperial Hint is one of my favorite horses of all-time.”
Despite having Clapton under his care for several months, Summers was deliberate to credit Arindel.
“Obviously what Arindel Farm and [racing manager] Brian [Cohen] and the family have done kind of speaks for itself,” Summers said. “And I’m glad they’re going to be represented in the race. Brethren is able to be represented in the race—Arindel owns [Brethren] and [Clapton’s dam Alexandra Rylee] and you know [Clapton’s full brother] Knox ran a nice race the other day.
“So it’s exciting for us. We purchased [Clapton] but the Arindel family is still very much a part of this horse.”