A hectic 24 hours for Ryan Moore begins in Chicago on Saturday where the jockey widely regarded as the best in the world seeks his first victory in the 35th running of the Arlington Million.
Ryan Moore, photo Liesl King
The first thoroughbred race to offer $1 million in prize-money is worth the same now as it was in 1981 but has continued to be a magnet for competitors from Europe as well as the United States.
Moore teams up with last year's third Deauville, one of his three rides on the Arlington card, and will board a jet in the early hours of Sunday to fly the 3,657 miles back to Ireland, where he is due to be in action at the Curragh that afternoon.
Deauville won the Belmont Derby last year and was beaten two necks at Arlington when the David O'Meara-trained Mondialiste took the prize back to Britain. He ran a career-best to finish third in the Queen Anne Stakes in June and a third win in the race would put O'Brien alongside Ron McAnally and Charlie Whittingham as the race's most successful trainer.
O'Brien said: "He's in good form. We were happy with his run at Leopardstown last time and we've been happy with him since. He was a close third in the race last year and we're hoping for another good run."
The Pizza Man, who was sixth last year, bids to repeat his win of 2015, while Frankie Dettori partners Al Shaqab Racing's Mekhtaal, the winner of the Prix d'Ispahan, who was sixth in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Daniel Muscutt has been rewarded with his biggest ride on outsider Fanciful Angel, trained by Marco Botti.
Fanciful Angel has never won above Listed level, but Botti said: "He's done well and he should handle conditions out there. He's recovered well from the journey and he'll race on Lasix.
"It's a tough race taking on the Group 1 horses and he'll have to improve a fair bit, but older horses can sometimes surprise you when they're in good form. Chicago has been a lucky place for us in the past and I hope it can be again."
O'Brien has never won the fillies' race, the Beverly D, and in this prize locks horns with the US's best trainer of turf horses Chad Brown, who is trying to win the race for the third year running.
Rain Goddess represents Ballydoyle and the Enable form, having finished a distant second to the superstar filly in the Irish Oaks.
"She's run very well in Group 1s on her last two starts and is in good form," said O'Brien. "She's drawn a bit wider than ideal, so we'll have to see how things work out."
Brown saddles three including Khalid Abdullah's Grand Jete, unbeaten since moving to the US from France.
Europeans make up half the six runners for the 1m2f Secretariat Stakes in which Permian will seek the top-level victory that frustratingly eluded him in a photo-finish to the Grand Prix de Paris last time.
Trainer Mark Johnston has had only 11 runners in North America and hopes his first since 2009 will be successful.
"At the line most of his body was in front, except his nose," said the trainer of the Saint-Cloud second.
"The Secretariat is very valuable and not as competitive as something like the Juddmonte is likely to be. We've upped him to a mile and a half for his last three starts, but there is no getting away from the fact the Dante is arguably his best performance."
US runner Oscar Performance, winner of the Belmot Derby, could be the main opposition, though Jean-Claude Rouget runs Afandem, second in the Prix Eugene Adam, who will be ridden by Dettori.
Taj Mahal, disappointing in the Eclipse Stakes when pacemaker for Cliffs Of Moher, represents O'Brien who said: "We think he's a colt who can still progress. The track should suit him and he's in good shape."