O'Brien outlines US plan for Mendelssohn before possible Justify clash

Aidan O'Brien has indicated that Kentucky Derby flop Mendelssohn will travel to the US for two more dirt runs in preparation for a Breeders' Cup Classic showdown with Triple Crown hero Justify.

The Ballydoyle three-year-old, who won the UAE Derby by 18 and a half lengths on the Dubai dirt in March, struggled with the extremely sloppy track and early race interference when virtually pulled up at Churchill Downs behind Bob Baffert's star.

However, that experience hasn't deterred the Coolmore team from targeting one of racing's most lucrative prizes.

O'Brien said: "The Breeders' Cup Classic is what we've been thinking of for Mendelssohn and he'll more than likely head to Belmont on the same day as the Eclipse at Sandown [July 7]. He'll run on the dirt in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes and then we'll look at the Pennsylvania Derby [September 22].

"He's had a bit of rest and he'll be just ready to start back."

When asked about potentially taking on Justify, O'Brien agreed that a clash between the pair would be fitting for the much-missed Scat Daddy, who sired both colts.

"It would be very exciting," he said.  

The Dwyer Stakes is a $300,000 contest over 1m that was won in 2001 by the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained E Dubai, who then finished second to Bob Baffert's Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Point Given in the Travers Stakes.

Dermot Weld tasted success in the $1 million Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby [1m1f] at Parx in 2000 with Pine Dance, who later finished down the field in the Breeders' Cup Classic behind Tiznow and the O'Brien-trained Giant's Causeway.

Connections of Justify confirmed on Sunday that their star will continue his racing career, despite his breeding rights having been sold for a reported $75m, and the Breeders' Cup Classic will surely be high on the agenda for Justify, who would emulate American Pharoah's achievements in 2015 if adding the Classic to his Triple Crown.

Closer to home, O'Brien revealed that English and Irish 1,000 Guineas third Happily is on course to step up in trip at Chantilly on Sunday in the 1m2½f Prix de Diane.

"We have five entered in the French Oaks but Happily is our main one and the plan is for her to run this weekend," O'Brien said.

"She seems to be fine since the Curragh, and although she hasn't done a lot we've been happy with what we've seen."

Bye Bye Baby, Athena, Easter Lily and Sizzling make up the Ballydoyle quintet, while Charlie Appleby's Wild Illusion and the Karl Burke-trained Laurens could fly the flag for Britain.

Justify at Churchill Downs, picture Churchill Downs