Trainer Scott Is California Dreaming

By Kelsey Riley

DEL MAR, California–Trainer George Scott is admittedly a big fan of the Breeders’ Cup, so the 28-year-old trainer has already reached a significant milestone by having his first starter in this weekend’s championships in just his second season in business. It doesn’t hurt that that horse is the last-out G2 Mill Reef S. winner James Garfield (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), who is respected at 6-1 on the morning line for Friday’s GI Juvenile Turf.

“He’s in great nick,” said Scott of the bay, who is owned by his father-in-law Bill Gredley, just after the colt returned from a spin around Del Mar on Wednesday morning. “He’s coming to the end of quite a long year but it seems to have woken him up again. He seems to have a real great energy out here.”

“It’s incredibly exciting, I feel fortunate to have such a good horse so early in my career,” he added. “I love the Breeders’ Cup, I always have, and it’s something I always look forward to, and to come back with a live chance is amazing.”

James Garfield has been on the go since May, when he finished third on debut at Leicester before filling the same spot in Royal Ascot’s Listed Windsor Castle S. He broke his maiden by six lengths next out at Doncaster on July 13, after which he dropped to fourth behind Expert Eye (GB) (Acclamation {GB}) in the G2 Vintage S. He was beaten a nose when second to Wells Farhh Go (GB) (Farhh {GB}) in the G3 Acomb S. at York on Aug. 23, and capped the week of a lifetime for Scott when winning the G2 Mill Reef S. just a week after Scott had married Bill Gredley’s daughter Polly.

Scott said the seed was planted to point James Garfield to Del Mar by Breeders’ Cup international representative Josh Christian, who had approached the team prior to the Acomb.

“In the buildup to that race we were considering coming here if he took the right steps in the meantime, which he did,” Scott explained. “We’ve had a really great experience and been so well looked after. John Christian has done a fantastic job since he put the idea in our heads. The horse has shipped really good and he’s training really well and I couldn’t be happier. And I mean I couldn’t be happier, it’s very exciting.”

While it is Scott’s first time saddling a Breeders’ Cup runner, he has plenty of experience in America. He worked for Eddie Kenneally in 2012 and later served a short stint in California with trainer Simon Callaghan before being called up to take the position as assistant to Lady Cecil in Newmarket. Prior to that he had ridden in point to points and worked for trainer Paul Nicholls. Broadening his horizons thereafter, Scott did a sale season with Blandford Bloodstock and also spent time with Shadwell Racing Manager Angus Gold before returning to the racing stables. He served as pupil assistant to Mark Tompkins and was assistant to Michael Bell, where he was the regular trackwork rider for the dual Grade I winner and globetrotting Wigmore Hall (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}).

James Garfield is one of 30 horses in Scott’s string in his second year of training, but he hasn’t solely stolen the limelight. Scott also handles 2-year-old stakes winner Another Batt (Ire) (Windsor Knot {Ire}), who recorded his third win from nine starts in Turkey’s International Trakya Trophy in September.

“He’s a star as well,” Scott said. “We’ve had a really good year, we’ve had 20 wins and a 20% strike rate so we’ve been consistent, the horses have run well all year. It’s the same with anything, running the business side is the hardest part. We’re all capable of training horses, you have to run a business though. That’s a bit stressful but other than that it’s very straightforward.”

Scott said his numbers are set to double next year, when he expects to have 60 horses under his care. While he said he plans to take full advantage of large purses in international events, he will only travel with what he feels are the right horses.

“It’s no secret that the prizemoney in England is disappointing, so if you have the right horse that fits the right race it’s certainly something I’ll continue to do,” he said. “I won’t chase races abroad, if the races fit it’s something I’ll keep doing I’m sure. You have to be certain about which horses you send because it’s an expensive trip.”

While Scott is savouring the experience of sending out a runner at one of his favourite meetings, he said he has had some time to enjoy himself at Del Mar, too.

“There’s plenty of time off and I have lots of friends here, like Simon Callaghan and Jack Sisterson, those guys who live here,” he said. “We’ve already had a lot of fun and we’ll continue to do so in the buildup to the race.”


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