BreedersCup_2014WorldChamp_Logo_Date_RGBFrom a Breeders’ Cup release

Two runners, one a defending champ, have been scratched from this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup.

Magician, the defending champion of the Turf, was scratched because of lameness, his connections said.  “When he came out for a trot this morning he was found to be acutely lame on his off-fore. It was an instant decision to take him out of the race,” trainer Aidan O’Brien reported.

The Europe-based Magician had been slated to make his final career start in the Turf before turning to a career at stud, at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.  The son of Galileo had won just once in six starts since taking last year’s Turf and retires with five wins from 14 career starts and earnings of nearly $2.6 million.

Free as a Bird, a 15-1 shot in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, has also been scratched.  The five-year-old Hard Spun mare, who would have entered the Cup on a five-race win streak, balked at getting aboard the plane which was to fly her to California.

Trainer Ian Wilkes said, “She didn’t like the sound of the engines and had to be backed off the plane. She is scratched. As long as she is OK, we’re fine.”