O'Brien hoping War effort can do trick
At the end of what has been a roller-coaster campaign, Aidan O'Brien sends Declaration Of War in search of a suitably epic swansong victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Saturday night.
With just eight Group One wins in 2013, the Ballydoyle maestro is on the verge of his worst tally in elite contests since securing a mere three in 2004.
He hasn't failed to hit double figures since, yet while he has contenders in four Grade Ones at the Los Angeles track tomorrow and Saturday, a single elusive triumph in the heady $5million climax would suffice.
From the outset, this has been a year of fluctuating fortunes for O'Brien, and the retirements of Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey were major setbacks.
By and large, his Classic crop has misfired, with Magician's 2,000 Guineas coup at the Curragh his sole domestic Group One.
On the plus side, O'Brien bagged his fourth Epsom Derby victory with Ruler Of The World, and witnessed his champion jockey son Joseph topple Mick Kinane's 20-year-old record of 115 winners in a Flat season.
The brilliant 20-year-old is now perched on 126, while his father is also en route to setting a record all of his own.
O'Brien senior's running total of 132 Flat winners trumps the previous best of 122 that was set by his mentor Jim Bolger in 1990.
The landmark was achieved four days after Joseph's historic win on Marvellous at Navan, when Century scored for the duo at the Curragh on October 13. His focus is now firmly on conquering one of the few remaining outposts on the international Flat scene.
Along with Tuesday's Melbourne Cup – in which he has no runner – the Classic has proved frustrating for O'Brien ever since Giant's Causeway's galling defeat to Tiznow in 2000.