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Breeders’ Cup 2018: The Review

Far and away the biggest team of European runners ever assembled for a Breeders' Cup was flown in for the 2018 renewal, the 35th overall. But was it quality or just quantity in Louisville, Kentucky? And how did the betting go? All is revealed in what follows...

The preamble

A team of nearly fifty Euro entries, almost exclusively in the turf races, but with three notable runners in the biggest race of all, the Breeders' Cup Classic, convened on the sodden Churchill Downs track in the days running up to last weekend. Select horses from the powerhouse stables of Gosden and Stoute were supported by less fashionable yards as well as, of course, a phalanx from Ballydoyle.

The first blow was dealt when Sir Michael Stoute's Crystal Ocean was found to be lame and did not fly; this after the same trainer's well fancied Ulysses was forced to miss last year's event in a late scratching.

The weather was fair when I landed a week ago last Sunday, but the forecast was foul. Indeed, it was predicted to be Marti Pellow territory: Wet Wet Wet. But hope sprang eternal - after all, in Louisville, they have a saying: "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes". Changeable doesn't do it justice.

Alas, on this occasion the forecast was spot on. Two full days of torrential teeming incessant, very wet, rain. The turf track had been loose on top on Monday morning when I visited, but you could hear the hooves rattling underneath. That gave early hope to it not being a bog, as did the track superintendent's insistence that the nature of the soil, allied to large pipes embedded within, allow for very fast drainage. I'd say he had to be at least partly correct because, as puddles appeared on the main track, the turf seemed to absorb all that nature could precipitate upon it.

Meanwhile, I was slaving over my laptop on this year's Breeders' Cup Compendium. It may seem like it's all gravy when I head over for these BC jaunts, but the reality is that I spend around six hours a day hunched over a keyboard, with digital and printed Daily Racing Forms to hand alongside multiple other form indicators (Equibase, Timeform US, Racing Post, breederscup.com - an incredible resource, and youtube).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for sympathy: it's one of the rare, largely uninterrupted, weeks in the year when I can get my head down and do some proper form study. And the production of the Compendium keeps me honest as well as recording and ordering my thoughts.

If you haven't seen it before, here is a link to download and take a look at it. As you probably know, I made it available for free to Gold subscribers.

Anyway, all work and no play makes every man a dull boy, so the evenings were reserved for beer and banter with a large Euro crowd, convened in the Galt House Hotel, not quite Louisville's only accommodations, but certainly its largest. No names here, but it was a most enjoyable social week in support of the daytime slog and graft. And, let's face it, even the hardest day with nose touching form sheets is better than many people's better days in their chosen professions: I'm certainly not complaining.

Friday

And so to the racing. Although still an uneven distribution to the weekend, the addition of a juvenile sprint to Friday's card made for a five-nine race split across the two days. And that new race, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, was the opener, after a beautifully delivered rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

The well named Bulletin fired from the gates to record an all the way success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

The well named Bulletin fired from the gates to record an all the way success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

Plenty of Euro interest, and I'd predicted a burn up on the front end between a couple of very fast US horses, Shang Shang Shang and Bulletin. But the late scratching of Shang3 meant Bulletin would face far less pace contention and, as it turned out, the speed held up. In fairness, Bulletin, having just his second lifetime start, was absolutely electric from the gate, and catapulted to an early lead he never relinquished.

As well as the absent Shang Shang Shang, he was further assisted by the normally rapid-running Soldier's Call (top left, grey silks) fluffing his opening line.

Pletcher's 'bullet' was impressive and came home from his closest early pace pursuant, Chelsea Cloisters, with So Perfect a never nearer third and best of the Europeans.

Word is that Bulletin might head over for Royal Ascot next June; it would be some sight to see him propelled at the head of the King's Stand field taunting his rivals to 'catch me if you can'.

If Bulletin was a sight to behold, there were few sights all weekend as beholdable (is that a word?!) as the winner of the Juvenile Fillies' Turf, Friday's second race. The buzz was all about a Chad Brown filly who'd run in the Miss Grillo last time: Chad runs his best there and then brings them here, a feat he'd reprised with three of his four winners of the race (and it would have been four but for Rushing Fall not being ready for last year's Miss Grillo).

This time, he saddled Newspaperofrecord, and she arrived with the biggest Beyer speed figure of any of the Brown fillies to line up in the JFT. She was a front runner who looked set for an uncontested lead, and she was proven on sodden ground. She did not disappoint.

Although a little keen early, Newspaperofrecord sauntered away from a strong field to win by six and three-quarter respectful lengths, eased down. Check this out if you haven't seen it already...

 

Kevin Ryan's East, unbeaten in two coming into this, ran a remarkable race to finish second. She was fully seventeen lengths behind the winner at the first call before passing just about everyone bar the winner for a most honorable silver medal. But this was all about the daughter of Lope De Vega, bought in Newmarket and potentially heading there for the 1000 Guineas next spring. While that remains a distant prospect at best, she is worth following wherever she goes: this is a very, very special filly.

Two turf races down on 'Future Stars Friday', and still no British or Irish winner. That couldn't change in race three, the Juvenile Fillies' run on the dirt, as this side of the pond was unrepresented. In what was an open heat, Jaywalk became a third wire-to-wire winner extending her record to four out of four since a debut second.

Back on the lawn, it was finally time for a Euro victory, though not without drama. All the chat was about Anthony Van Dyck, with just about every judge I knew trumpeting his claims. I too was in the AvD camp, but none of us had to wait more than a dozen strides to know our fate. Frankly, I'm not sure there was a horse beaten sooner all weekend: he just didn't go a yard. Whether it was the ground or the effect of a huge Dewhurst run and a transatlantic flight or just the sleepy dust that seemed to affect most of the Ballydoyle team over the weekend... it all amounted to the same thing, a very early bath.

Meanwhile, William Buick had Line Of Duty much more handily positioned, his mount appearing significantly more willing, too. As they barreled down the home straight, the Godolphin colt surged into the lead, but not before veering right to left into the less marked left to right swerve of second placed Uncle Benny. Cue protracted stewards' enquiry and objection be the rider of the second. Some time later and the result was confirmed, a relieved Buick - who has had more than his share of tough luck at previous Breeders' Cups - jubilant at the outcome.

A quick line for Arthur Kitt, whose dam, Ceiling Kitty, ran on the 2012 undercard. He finished an excellent fourth having raced on the unfavoured inside down the straight; with a wider course he would have made the frame at least.

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In the Friday showpiece, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, favourite Game Winner was just that, Bob Baffert's Candy Ride colt holding the valiant charge of 40/1 Knicks Go with 66/1 Signalman back in 3rd. A few weeks previously, the second and third had finished in first and second in their prep race, at 70/1 and 10/1 respectively! There they set up a 688/1 exacta, here they rounded out a 965/1 trifecta. Woulda coulda shoulda...

 

Saturday

That tasty amuse bouche consumed, it was time for a nine course gourmet feast on Saturday. Commencing with one of the less feted contests, the Filly and Mare Sprint, this was the first - and as it transpired, only - opportunity to catch a bomb, a huge priced unconsidered winner. With what looked almost certain to be a pace meltdown, chiefly courtesy of the unrelentingly fast early Selcourt (John Sadler, going 0-for-42), things appeared set up for a closer.

Favourite Marley's Freedom was one such later runner, but so too were a couple of interesting longshots, Stormy Embrace and Shamrock Rose. Both were progressive and both had a chance to be competitive if the inefficient running of the pacers meant a slow overall time.

In one of those rare moments of clairvoyance, I happened to call this one spot on, with Shamrock Rose just prevailing in a finish of heads, at an on track price of 25.9/1. Chalon, well marked up in the Compendium, completed a 360/1 exacta, unbacked in this quarter, of course. Only a small bet for me, a tenner each way at 33's, but a very satisfactory way to kick off proceedings on the big day. And, if it was to be a slippery slope, at least we started at the top of the hill! Incidentally, Shamrock Rose was the first three-year-old to win this race, and the first of a number of stats-busters through the afternoon.

The Turf Sprint then began an almost unprecedented run of 'chalk' (top of the market) horses to win. It was Peter Miller's 7/1 third choice, Stormy Liberal, last year's winner under very different circumstances, who emerged victorious once more; but only after a duel the length of the home straight with the super game World Of Trouble, nominated as a win play in the Compendium at 6/1. Second for the win play was joined by fourth for one of the each way possibles, 20/1 Ruby Notion (sigh), the other being 7th placed Lost Treasure.

A footnote is that Stormy Liberal's last eight wins have been by a nose, 3/4L, a neck, a head, a nose, a nose, a head and a neck. This lad is some tool in a duel!

Next up, the Dirt Mile, and one of my stronger opinions on the day. City Of Light was hyper consistent and had run well in defeat over an inadequate trip on his prior start, finishing second. I backed him at 12's straight after that race, then forgot I'd done that and backed him again at 8's on 23rd October. After a raft of defections to the Sprint and Classic, the Dirt Mile cut up considerably making City Of Light still just about playable at the 7/2 available. He was a convincing winner, returning just better than 5/2 on track, and easily turning away Catalina Cruiser, John Sadler's latest BC shortie (odds on) which extended that trainer's sorry record to 0-for-43 at the Breeders' Cup.

In the Filly and Mare Turf, I was all over Wild Illusion. The Godolphin filly had had an excellent season and she came here proven at the trip and on the ground (though there remained some debate about what the state of the turf track actually was). At the furlong pole, Buick and Wild Illusion looked to have the race in safe keeping; but then came the thriving Sistercharlie, dismissed in the Compendium as unsuited to the turf state, to run her down in the shadow of the post, scoring a shade cosily.

Sistercharlie, another turf filly from the Chad Brown barn, was winning her fourth Grade 1 of the season, from five starts, hence her second favourite status.

The Sprint came next, and trainer Peter Miller was looking for an unprecedented double double, having won the last two runnings of the Turf Sprint with Stormy Liberal and last year's renewal of this race with his again entered Roy H. The Compendium was in search of value - as always - and landed on 9/1 Whitmore, who looked to have a chance for a ground-saving rail trip akin to that which bagged him the G1 Forego previously, beating a certain City Of Light. It panned out exactly as I thought, except that Roy H was just too good; in fact, he was exceptional, cantering into the stretch run despite a searing opening quarter in 21.35. From there, it was a matter of how far, three-and-a-quarter lengths the official margin.

Miller's remarkable double-double is one of the training feats in Breeders' Cup history, all the more astonishing given his yard was caught up in the California wildfires last December.

Then came the Mile, a race where the French-trained Polydream looked a very solid favourite... until being scratched by the Churchill Downs vet. In what proved a tart episode for Freddy Head, famous for his exploits in the same race with the wonderful Goldikova, the master entraineur was informed by the local horse doctor that his filly was lame. Head was naturally resistant, explaining that she simply has an awkward gait at the trot, and that in a gallop there was no such issue.

Rulez is rulez hereabouts, however, and the ante-post jolly was scratched from the race at the eleventh hour, regardless of impressing work watchers all week with her fluency over the turf oval. As an outsider looking in, it was a bizarre decision; heaven only knows how frustrating and distressing it must have been for connections.

There was some justice in what followed, though not for John Sadler, whose Catapult was run down by Sir Michael Stoute's stat-busting Expert Eye. Finally, gloriously, the 0-for-62 losing run which British- and Irish-trained runners in this race had endured since 1995 was ended. And it was ended by a magnificent, typical, final furlong Frankie flourish, urging the three-year-old Acclamation colt into the lead within the heat and light of the finish line cameras. Compendium followers had a little place joy as Analyze It hung tough for third, with fellow e/w pick, Next Shares, still running... though readers would have been completely put off Expert Eye by my write up which was dismissive for a number of, in the event, unfounded reasons, price excepted.

Poor Sadler will have been wondering what he had to do to get a Breeders' Cup win, rolling 0-for-44 now after this latest heartbreak.

Onto the home straight, and next up was the Breeders' Cup Distaff, once horrendously named "the Ladies' Classic". Favourite Monomoy Girl was a three-year-old who had won the Kentucky Oaks earlier in the season en route to accumulating a perfect six out of six races, in terms of first past the post at least. She was 'taken down' last time for wandering across the track and causing interference there, but showed no such errancy on this occasion as she overcame a wide berth to see it out from yet another Chad Brown filly, Wow Cat.

It was close but no cigar for Compendium backers, 16/1 Blue Prize running very well but getting collared on the line for third. Some firms paid four places on the race, but not the one I used.

Two races to go, and for many the penultimate event, the Turf, was the meeting highlight. Queen Enable was laying her long unbeaten record on the line, bidding not just to add to her Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks and dual Arcs but also to overcome the 0-from-8 reigning Arc winner hoodoo in this race. Given another masterful race by Frankie, she was made to work all the way to the line by the progressive and high class O'Brien filly, Magical, eventually eking out a three-quarter length verdict. The story of these classy fillies is better illustrated by the 'different parish' nine length gap back to the third placed horse, the clear play being to mark up the second's effort rather than to mark down that of the winner. You can watch the race again below.

A nice 12/1 exacta was flagged for Compendium followers. Schweet.

It was super stuff and, along with Newspaperofrecord, one of the clear highlights of the weekend for me.

Enable really is a tremendous race mare, John Gosden a masterful trainer, and Frankie Dettori a peerless turf rider. Whether she comes back again next year remains to be seen but, regardless, she has given us some terrific memories already.

Finally it was time for the Classic, the ninth of nine Championship races, and the most valuable of them all. Britain and Ireland had three entries - Roaring Lion, Thunder Snow and Mendelssohn - and, one way or another, a case could be made for each (though I struggled to make one for the first named).

In what was a fasinating wagering puzzle, pitting three-year-olds against older, turf horses against dirt horses, sprinters against milers against ten furlong horses, west coast against east coast against Europe, I was clear on only one thing: I wanted to be against the John Sadler-trained favourite, Accelerate.

As with last year's winner, Gun Runner, he came into the race with an impressive string of 1's but also with a raft of questions to answer. As with last year's winner, Gun Runner, I wanted to be against him. And, as with last year's winner, Gun Runner, he proved my reservations wrong with a highly impressive performance.

In truth, he was a terrible price: drawn 14 of 14, beaten on his only race outside California, beaten in both starts in double-figure fields, a slow starter in his prior two races, and having his saddle adjusted by a man who was now 0-for-44 at this event.

Well, fair play to John Sadler, and fair play to Accelerate, because this fellow put up some effort to get it done from 'out there' on the track and, presumably, to save Sadler from the men in white coats and the funny farm. He's now 1-from-45 which will doubtless read a million times better than 0-from-45.

In behind, Roaring Lion hated the kickback and was a long last, beaten after half a mile; Mendelssohn did the Mendelssohn thing and ran hard from the front before fading - he'll be more interesting in the nine furlong Pegasus in January where they'll surely adopt the same tactic; and Thunder Snow ran a gallant race in third, rewarding each way support for Compendium followers. Yoshida, the other each way play, was fourth and might have won with a slightly less exaggerated waiting ride - judge for yourself, he's in the white colours from stall 10.

Highlights

In what was another absorbing and exciting Breeders' Cup episode on its return to Churchill Downs for the first time since 2011, a couple of grass fillies stood out for me: the first an emergent champion, the second an undisputed queen of her domain, the turf track.

Newpaperofrecord, purchased from Newmarket's Book 1 sale last October for a realtively reasonable 200,000 guineas, is by Lope De Vega, and she might be the best filly seen in America since... well, since the same trainer's Lady Eli at least. But, unlike that mare, she has a European pedigree which offers the faint prospect that she could campaign on the Guineas trail here in the spring. While that remains unlikely, she is one worth following whether you're a regular spectator of US racing or not. Class is class.

And what more is there to say about Enable? She did most of her work establishing herself as the star filly she undoubtedly is last year. This term, an interrupted campaign meant she'd had little more than a jog around Kempton (albeit brushing aside Crystal Ocean in receipt of weight) prior to her second Arc. But here she became the first Arc-BC Turf winner in the same season, and she did it by demonstrating both grit and class. Special mention to Magical, who was very well fancied by connections and who ran her best race yet to make a spectacle of things.

This was a trends-busting renewal:

- 3yo's were 0 from 31 in the Filly and Mare Sprint. They are now 1 from 34!
- British- and Irish-trained Mile runners were 0 from 62 since 1995. They are now 1 from 70!
- Reigning Arc winners were 0 from 8 in the Turf. They are now 1 from 9.
- And John Sadler was 0 from 41 at Breeders' Cups. He's now 1 from 45!

Well done to all, and here's looking forward to next year and a return to the Sunshine State: Breeders' Cup 36 will be hosted by Santa Anita Park in California. Be there if you can get there!

Matt

Breeders’ Cup Guide 2018: 12 races complete

STOP PRESS: THE COMPENDIUM IS NOW COMPLETE!

You can download the report for no charge right here.

Good luck!

Matt

Gold Subscribers: version 0.4 available now

The latest version of the Breeders' Cup Compendium, including finalised trends grids, and four completed races, is online now.

The races I've completed are:

- Juvenile Fillies

- Juvenile

- Dirt Mile

- Distaff

I am waiting on the weather here before looking at the turf races.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE LATEST VERSION >>>

Gold Subscribers: Get Breeders’ Cup Compendium *free*

This year, as a thank you to Gold subscribers, I'm giving away my Breeders' Cup Compendium.

Regular readers will know that this normally sells for £15, and that it is delivered in instalments. The current version has the trends, trends grids, links to review videos on the Breeders' Cup website, and draft pace (to be reviewed Tuesday) complete.

As the week wears on, there will be further iterations to include previews of the races, completed colour-coded grids, and the horses I'm backing.

You can download version 0.3, the first public version, from this link.

Breeders’ Cup 2018: Saturday Race Trends

After Future Stars Friday it is the turn of the seniors on Saturday, with nine Breeders' Cup races culminating in the $6,000,000 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Below are some race trends which may help separate those with better chances than their current odds imply...

4.00pm GMT Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

Eleven renewals to date and some strong patterns emerging.

  • Age: 4-6; 5-4; 6-1 (3yo's 0 from 30 to date, incl 11/10 fav in ’17, unplaced; last 10 winners all 4 or 5 yo)
  • 10/11 finished in the top 3, or within 3L of the winner, last time (not ’17 winner)
  • 8/11 won at 7f; 4/11 2+ wins at 7f
  • 9/11 won or were 2nd in a G1 (2017 winner 2nd 7f G1 2 years earlier!)
  • TCA at Keeneland is a key prep (albeit over 6f) – Golden Mischief/Chalon/Vertical Oak closer 1-2-3 in '18
  • PID Masters also key race – Hotshot Anna won by 4 ½ lengths this year
  • Surface switch (synth or turf to dirt) : 7/11 winners
  • Fav 3/11, 2nd fav 2/11, 3rd fav 0/11. 6/11 4th or lower in the betting

4.38pm GMT Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint

A race that feels like it should have a greater European presence, it has been largely overlooked by the raiders thus far.

  • 8/10 were already distance winners (check for specific 5½f distance form)
  • Age 3-1; 4-4; 5-3; 6-1; 8-1 (all largely in line with representation)
  • 8/10 winners were top 3 or within 3L of the winner last time out (not ’17 winner)
  • 8/10 had 99+ Beyer; 10/10 96+ Beyer
  • 9/10 had 4+ starts in year
  • 9/10 had a 28+ day layoff (’17 winner off for 147 days!)
  • 10/10 placed in Graded Stakes (6/10 WON Graded Stakes)
  • Europeans 0 from 9 so far (small sample, can’t be dogmatic)
  • Favourite is 4/10

5.16pm GMT Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

The twelfth running of a race which has somewhat diluted the quality of the Sprint and the Classic, being as it an intermediate distance. Nevertheless, it looks a strong field this time and the trends are firming up:

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  • 10/11 ran in a Grade 1 or 2 last time out (’17 winner 2nd in G3 LTO)
  • All 11 notched at least one 100+ Beyer in their last two races
  • 8/11 had 5+ runs in the year, 7/11 had 6+ runs in year (’17 winner: 9 runs)
  • Seasonal run breakdown: 3-2/4-1/5-1/6-2/8-2/9-2/10-1
  • Layoff: 10/11 27-42 days
  • 7/11 'turned back' in distance (2/4 exceptions were Goldencents) [may not favour ‘turn back’ around a one turn mile such as CD]
  • Top 3 favourites: Fav 2/11; 2nd fav 2/11; 3rd fav 1/11 [6/11 outside top 3 in betting]
  • Age 3-3/4-6/5-1/6-1 = 9/11 3 or 4yo (8/11 4yo+)
  • 10/11 had won a Graded Stakes

6.04pm GMT Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf

This will be the 20th edition of the Filly and Mare Turf, a race where the distance has flexed to suit the venue. Here at Churchill Downs it is run over 1m3f.

  • US 11 Europe 8
  • 8/8 US winners 1st/2nd LTO; 2/3 ex-Euro imports 1st LTO; 1/8 Euro 1st LTO!
  • Layoff: US/import 10/11 35 days or less; Euro, anything goes!
  • Age: 3: 5 (all Euro, including 2016 & 2017 winners); 4: 8; 5: 4; 6+: 1
  • US have won 5 of last 8 and 7 of last 11
  • 17/19 had 4-7 runs during the season (other 2 had 3 starts, incl 2014 winner)
  • 8 of 11 US winners had a race at Keeneland that season
  • US 3 Euro 1 at CD. Euro at least 2nd in 3 of 4, at least 3rd in all four

6.46pm GMT Breeders' Cup Sprint

One of the original Cup races, there are 34 previous versions from which to elicit patterns and profiles. Here are some key Sprint pointers:

  • Since 2007, the BC Sprint winners came into the race with a combined 68/132 lifetime win record (52%). ’17 winner Roy H ‘only’ 5/16
  • Last 24 winners had at least 50% 1-2 strike rate at 6f
  • 32/34 won a G1-3 that season
  • 1+ 6f wins AND ran sharp 7f last 12 months a solid recent angle
  • 19 of the last 25 had 2+ 6f wins that season
  • 12 of the last 20 winners were 50%+ lifetime winners
  • 27/34 had 5+ seasonal races (5/7 exceptions were trained by Bob Baffert), but 11 of last 14 had 5 or fewer seasonal starts
  • 18 of last 24 winners showed a bullet workout (not ’17 winner, Roy H)
  • Highest average exacta payoff of ALL BC races
  • Highest average win payoff of ALL BC races
  • Bob Baffert is the King of the Layoff/lightly raced runner

7.36pm GMT Breeders' Cup Mile

Another of the original cluster of Breeders' Cup races, this has been a shocker for Britain and Ireland. Maybe this will be our year...

  • The last 16 winners had 4-6 seasonal starts
  • 15/16 winners since 2002 had 2+ mile turf wins (exception, Karakontie 2014)
  • Repeat winners common (Miesque, Lure, Da Hoss, Goldikova, Wise Dan)
  • 15 of the last 22 were US winners; other 7 all French-trained (UK/Ire 0 for 62 since 1995)
  • Only Goldikova (x3) and Karakontie have stemmed US dominance since 2004
  • 7/9 3yo winners were Euros (4 fillies); 11/12 5+yo winners were US (exc Goldi #3)
  • Euro G1 win important, US any Graded win
  • 22 of the last 24 ran 123 last time, or finished within 4L of the winner
  • Career record at 1m of BC Mile winners since 2002: Runs 130, 1st 75 (58%), 2nd 29 (22%)
  • Thus, the last 15 BC Mile winners had a collective 80% 1-2 record at the distance
  • No front runner has been 1st or 2nd since 2000

8.16pm GMT Breeders' Cup Distaff

At one point called 'The Ladies' Classic', the Distaff has mercifully reverted to its initial nomenclature. This will be the 35th renewal:

  • 27/34 won by 3 or 4yo's (17 straight prior to Beholder ’16 and Forever Unbridled ‘17)
  • 17/34 won by 4yo's (including 10 of the last 16)
  • 33/34 finished top 3 or within 4L of winner last time out
  • 20 of the last 27 winners ran 6-8 times in the year (’16 winner, 5 times; ’17 winner twice)
  • 24/30 1m1f Distaff winners had won at the distance already
  • Layoff: 28/34 35 days or less ago (all since 1998, except 3 of last 4 winners)
  • 23/30 1m1f Distaff winners had won a Grade 1
  • The favourite is 14/34 (41% SR)
  • 32/34 had recorded a Beyer of 100+
  • Beldame Stakes was responsible for 4/8 CD Distaff winners

8.56pm GMT Breeders' Cup Turf

A very good event for 'Team Europe' when the Breeders' Cup has been hosted at Churchill Downs, and with arguably our deepest party ever in the race it is extremely difficult to see a home win. The challenge then is which of the raiders will claim the spoils...?

  • 23/24 winners to have raced at the distance had been at least 2nd (Found in 2015 the exception)
  • Layoff: US 35 days or less; Euro any
  • 34/34 aged 3-5yo; 6yo+ 0/50 (inc 2016 fav, Flintshire)
  • Euro 3yo's 7; US 3yo's 2 (last one in 1989)
  • 26/34 won G1 that season (7/8 exceptions were Euro, & averaged 13/1)
  • 11/21 Euro winners last ran in the Arc (not often the 'obvious' one)
  • Arc winners are 0/6 in same season (including Golden Horn, odds on in 2015)
  • 8 US winners ran in Joe Hirsch, six of them winning that key prep
  • 22/24 since '94 had 3-8 starts - 3-4; 4 or 5-6; 6 to 8-12 (5 of last 7 had 6-8 seasonal runs)
  • Every winner to have had at least two 1m4f runs won or was 100% ITM at the distance
  • Europe 6 (including last 4) US 2 at CD

9.44pm Breeders' Cup Classic

The showpiece event, and we're represented here by Mendelssohn, Roaring Lion and Thunder Snow, against what looks a competitive field which maybe lacks a superstar.

  • All of the last 17 Classic winners had 3-8 runs that season
  • 33/34 ran 1-2-3 LTO (20 x 1st; 8 x 2nd; 5 x 3rd)
  • 30/34 won a G1 that season
  • 34/34 aged 3-5 (6yo+ 0/31) – 3yo 12 wins; 4yo 14 wins; 5yo 8 wins.
  • 20 of last 29 posted stamina (6f+) workout since last run
  • 10/11 40+ day layoffs posted Bullet AND/OR Stamina works since last run
  • 9/12 3yo winners ran in at least one Triple Crown race (1 exception was a Euro, 1 was 2016 winner, Arrogate)
  • 20 of the last 23 posted 100+ Beyer last time but below previous best (Arrogate massive 122 LTO in 2016, Gun Runner 115 LTO in 2017)
  • Where no distance form, check breeding for stamina credentials
  • 8/8 CD Classic winners had either won ‘on the road’ (7) or had experience of CD (4)

Champion Trainers set optimistic tone ahead of Breeders’ Cup

The champion trainers of Britain and Ireland were in upbeat and hopeful mood ahead of the Breeders’ Cup, which gets underway a week on Friday at Churchill Downs, Kentucky.

John Gosden, whose lead in the British Champion Trainer title race is already unassailable, has high hopes for superstar mare, Enable. Of the dual Arc-winning four-year-old, he said, “She was only 85% [fit] for the Arc, but she’s fully fit now. She’s fresh but she’s a filly shipping in at the end of the year. We’ll need to see how she’s travelled”.

Of the fact Enable is trying to do what numerous Arc winners, including Gosden’s Golden Horn, have previously failed to do and double up in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the master of Clarehaven seemed largely unmoved. “Golden Horn hated the ground; they had an inch and a half of rain there [in Keeneland]. And Dancing Brave was asked to train at 10 in the morning when the sun was at its hottest. It was most unfair on him”.

There are no concerns about the track either, with Enable having won around the tight turns of Chester in her three-year-old season.

When discussing Roaring Lion’s tilt at Breeders’ Cup Classic glory, Gosden was more circumspect, insisting it is a “brave, bold decision” by Qatar Racing Ltd, the recent Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner’s owners. “He’s not bred for the dirt, but a mile and a quarter is his trip. The challenge is not so much the surface, but racing in unfamiliar conditions a horse’s breathing can get compromised”.

Roaring Lion has reportedly come out of the race on Saturday well, and is expected to take his chance in the Classic, though he does have a second preference entry in the Turf over an extra quarter mile.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s perennial Champion Trainer, Aidan O’Brien, was looking forward to sending his biggest team yet to the Breeders’ Cup. The Ballydoyle battalion will fly out on Monday and may not be seen walking on the Churchill track until as late as Thursday morning.

O’Brien saddles impressive Cornwallis Stakes winner, Sergei Prokofiev, in the opening Juvenile Turf Sprint, and he enthused, “I was delighted with him in Newmarket. He’s a very fast horse for whom a fast pace will suit; he seems to relax better when they go quick”.

The son of Scat Daddy, whose human namesake composed an opera called The Gambler, may prove to be a pretty good bet in the Breeders’ Cup overture.

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The Coolmore ‘lads’ could have as many as three runners in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, though O’Brien sounded a note of caution about the participation of Hermosa, who may not run. However, Just Wonderful looks likely to take her chance. “She’s a classy filly, who likes to follow the pace, and quickens very well”.

Those are perfect attributes for a race in which APOB has saddled eleven runners but has yet to win.

In the boys’ equivalent, the Juvenile Turf, Anthony Van Dyck will take some beating if allowed to take his chance. O’Brien reported, “He’ll handle nice ground, and one of him or Broome will run, but both probably won’t”. Broome, he continued, “is in good form, but has had a tough enough season and we’re taking it day by day with him”.

The highly talented rogue that is Lost Treasure is being aimed at the Turf Sprint, over five and a half furlongs. He’s a horse that needs to be delivered right on the line as he has a marked tendency to pull himself up immediately after getting his nose in front, but there’s little doubting his ability.

In a race where they’re sure to go off hard, it may just fall into his lap. “He doesn’t want to be in front too long”, O’Brien confirmed with uncharacteristic understatement, “but if things fell for him he might be right there”.

‘The lads’ are triple-handed in the Mile as well, a race in which Aidan is 0 from 19 to date. It is a bit of a hex race from a British and Irish perspective, with no winner since Ridgewood Pearl in 1995. Gustav Klimt could be the main hope. “Ryan was delighted with him after Haydock [G1 Sprint Cup], and we wanted to give him another chance at a mile. He’s a well balanced horse who travels and quickens well”.

I Can Fly may also run here having been seen flashing home in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes behind Roaring Lion last weekend. Her trainer said, “She was comfortable back at a mile, and Donnacha was delighted with her. The QE II was a great run”.

Happily completes the trio, and “she’s coming to herself; there might be a little more to come. A flat mile will suit her well. We’re looking forward to her if she gets a good draw”.

In the Turf, O’Brien will probably saddle Magical. “She has had an easy enough season, coming into the autumn a fresh filly.”

Regardless of what precedes it, the final note for Ballydoyle will be struck by Mendelssohn, last year’s Juvenile Turf winner who takes his chance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s been preparing on the dirt this season, including when a gallant third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last time. There he battled Diversify through relentless early fractions and hung impressively tough to cling on for third.

“We’ve been happy with his three run prep”, reported O’Brien, “and we think he’s progressed with each run. Ryan was very happy with him the last day and we’re looking forward to it”.

It promises to be a spectacular 35th edition, with Europe holding no fewer than 49 entries, a record. The champion trainers of Britain and Ireland will both be relishing the prospect of adding to previous Breeders’ Cup victories to crown their respective seasons.

Breeders’ Cup 2018: Friday Race Trends

Day 1, Friday, of the 2018 Breeders' Cup is all about the future. The Breeders' beaks and bigwigs have long scratched their heads about the best format for the overture to Saturday's main card and they may, finally, have hit their mark with the equivalent of Newmarket's Future Champions Day. Indeed, they're calling it 'Future Stars Friday'. Genius.

The card consists of five races, of which - notably - three are on the turf. Below are some race trends which may assist in sifting the fields.

Big kudos to Progressive Handicapping's Crushing the Cup (order it here, it's brilliant) and to the awesome trove of stats on breederscup.com, without which the below could not have been constructed.

 

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

A new race, which was run for the first time on the undercard last year, and is now afforded full Breeders’ Cup status.

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  • First four home were all Euros last year, 1st/3rd coming from the very back of the field
  • Wes Ward’s trio led then faded to 6th, 8th, 12th of 12
  • Extra half furlong and longer straight likely to suit Euro sprinters
  • Peak RPR’s of 105/110/98/104 for 1st 4 Euro’s home. Winning RPR at Del Mar:105
  • Euro 1234 and 7th ran 7-8-6-7-7 (average 7) times. US 5th, 6th, 8th ran 3-4-3 times
  • Draw: 9-5-8-7-10-11 (12 ran)
  • Run style of 1st 4: Rear, midfield, rear, midfield

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

10 renewals so far, eight of which have been won by the home team. It may be more than coincidence that Team Europe scored only on the two occasions when raceday medication was banned.

  • 7/8 US winners ran in Miss Grillo or Natalma, ’17 winner exited Jessamine
  • US 8 Euro 2 (both Euro in the two non-Lasix years)
  • 9/10 finished top 3 or within 1.5L of the winner last time out (exception ran in Miss Grillo)
  • 9/10 won at 1m+ (exception, Flotilla, 1.5L behind in Arc weekend G1)
  • All 10 finished top 3, or within 1.5L of the winner, in a Stakes race
  • Frontrunners 1, Prominent 5, Late runners 4 (CD: both ran prominently)
  • Layoff: 3wks-2 / 4wks-2 / 5wks-4 / 7wks-2 (Euro 4-5wks)
  • Prior Runs: 2-5; 3-1; 4-2; 5-1; 6-1
  • 80+ Beyer – 6/8 recorded 81+ (other 2 had only 2 starts)
  • 2 Euro winners prepped in G1 races (1st, 1.5L 4th)
  • Chad Brown has trained four JFT winners (all in California) , incl. three of the last four
  • All US exacta: 5/10 All US trifecta in both CD renewals (Euro 4th both times)

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

11 iterations of the Juvenile Turf to date, and a role reversal from the fillies' equivalent, with Euro entries having the best of it so far.

  • Euro 7 US 4 (2-1 in Kentucky)
  • 2-6 runs (9/11 had 3 to 5 runs - Prior Starts: 2-1/3-2/4-5/5-2/6-1)
  • 3/4 US won at 1m+, only 2/7 Euro won at 1m (incl ’17 winner, Mendelssohn)
  • 1st-3rd Fav 5 from 33 (11 renewals) – Mendelssohn was favourite in ‘17
  • 11/11 Top 3 LTO or within 2L of winner
  • 0 Front Runner winners (7 CLOSERS, 4 PROMINENT)
  • 6 of the 8 Euro winners plus Hootenanny had recorded an RPR of 110+; 2016 winner 108 LTO
  • 7/7 Euro winners placed in G1/2 LTO, or won ungraded stakes; 3 of last 4 Euro winners placed in Dewhurst LTO
  • 4/4 US winners had won a Stakes and were placed 123 in all Stakes runs
  • Euro winners 20-42 days absent (5/7 20 or 21 days); US 20, 35, 49, 68 days absent
  • Pilgrim Stakes considered a key prep: got 1st win in ’16, Oscar Performance
  • Only 4 WAYI races have produced Juv Turf winner; only ONE WAYI winner has won Juv Turf (Sum=Summer Stakes, Pil=Pilgrim, Bou=Bourbon, Cha=Champagne)

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies

One of the 'founder races', the Juvenile Fillies has been run every year since inception - that's 34 times.

  • 14 of the last 16 had 3-5 career starts (exceptions, 2, starts, ’07 and ’17)
  • Last 16, career runs: 2-2,3-6,4-5,5+-3
  • Layoff: 29/34 were running within 30 days (31/34 5 weeks off or less)
  • 27/34 (79%) had a Grade 1, 2 or 3 win, from c.60% of the runners. ’17 winner G1 2nd on 2nd 3/7 non-qualifiers placed in Frizette (incl. ’17 winner)
  • 18/23 fillies improved Beyer when racing 7f+ for 1st time (excludes pre-Beyer BC's and winners with no 7f+ form)
  • 90+ Beyer = very strong, 80+ 1 or 2 starts = strong
  • 31/34 were top 4 or less than 4L behind the winner last time out
  • Favourite is 18/34 (53%), 5/8 at CD (63%)
  • 21/34 (62%) had NOT won at the distance
  • "Look beyond the obvious when the trials were slow", favour lightly raced improver

Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Like its sister race, the Juvenile has been run since the first Breeders' Cup in 1984.

  • 32/34 ran 123 or within 4L of the winner last time out
  • 17 of the last 25 winners posted a new Beyer speed figure top LTO
  • 16 of last 22 winners improved their speed figure racing at 7f+ for the first time
  • Uncoupled entries (i.e. trainers with multiple runners, not coupled for mutuel betting purposes) won in 2010, 2013 and 2015
  • 4/8 Juvenile favourites have won at Churchill Downs Breeders’ Cups
  • Champagne Stakes and Breeders’ Futurity were responsible for 5/8 CD Juvenile winners
  • American Pharoah Stakes (formerly FrontRunner/Norfolk) 0/8 at CD
  • Prior runs of US winners since 2000: 2: 5 (including 3 of last 7), 3: 4, 4: 6

 

Breeders’ Cup 2018: Top Trainers

Preparing a horse for an event like the Breeders' Cup requires skill, judgement and no little luck. Some trainers seem to have an unerring knack for it, while for others the meeting is akin to a Sisyphean task.

Given the unfamiliar wagering territory the Breeders' Cup constitutes for many this side of the Atlantic, what follows is a trainer refresher...

Top Breeders' Cup Trainers: Overall Wins

The undisputed training king of the Breeders' Cup is 83-year-old D Wayne Lukas, whose 20 wins at the meeting looks set to stand as the target for at least another five years. Remarkably, Lukas is still training, and enjoyed his most recent Cup victory when Take Charge Brandi made all in the 2014 Juvenile Fillies at 61.7/1. However, he looks unlikely to have a runner this time around.

Second in the all time wins list, and bidding to close the gap on the top guy, is Bob Baffert. Baffert, 65, has 14 wins on his CV to date, including a hat-trick of Classics from 2014 to 2016. He will again have a strong hand in the showpiece event with both West Coast and McKinzie expected to line up. All 14 wins have come in dirt races.

In the bronze medal position, and vying with Baffert for second, is the master of Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien. He's claimed a dozen Breeders' Cup victories, ten on them on the lawn.

Now, here's one for the trivia buffs amongst you: can you name APOB's two Breeders' Cup dirt winners? Of course, everyone knows about Johannesburg, but who was the other? It was, of course (ahem), Man Of Iron in the 2009 Marathon. With little crossover between Baffert's main track runners and O'Brien's turfers, they may both narrow the differential with Lukas.

If Obie doesn't have to worry about Bob too much on the turf, he will be extremely mindful of the ascending star of Chad Brown. Brown saddled his first runner in 2008: Maram won the Juvenile Fillies Turf, setting the tone for the next decade where all but one of his ten Cup victories were achieved either on the grass or with a filly, or both. Brown will have a formidable hand to play once more, perhaps headlined by the hugely exciting unbeaten juvenile turf filly, Newspaperofrecord.

Also on ten career Breeders' Cup wins is Bill Mott, though his haul has been achieved from 95 starters (to Brown's 71), and began 21 years earlier with Theatrical in 1987. Mott was responsible for "the incomparable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar" who, after winning just two of his first 13 races, then went on an unbeaten run of 16, which included ten Grade 1's as well as the Dubai World Cup, which at that point had yet to receive G1 status. Like all other six-year-olds to attempt the feat, Cigar failed in his bid to repeat his Classic success the year after that famous line was uttered.

Mott's two chances this time look to be Channel Maker in the Turf - against a phalanx of top class Euros - and Yoshida, who had a spin in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot earlier this season, in the Classic.

Richard Mandella is one of three trainers to have saddled nine BC winners, and his performance is further praiseworthy for coming from just 42 starters, a sensational 21.43% strike rate at this most rarefied of levels. At this stage, however, it doesn't look like Mandella, trainer of triple-Cup-winning Beholder, will have a runner at the 2018 renewal.

Claude 'Shug' McGaughey and Todd Pletcher both also have nine winners. McGaughey's last Cup win was in 2005 and he looks likely to unleash interesting dark horse Code Of Honor in the Juvenile. Meanwhile, Pletcher has fired a lot of bullets - 131 at the last count - for his nonet, and will do so again, with Bulletin and Current exciting juvenile prospects on the Friday before a quieter Saturday by the look of things.

The best of the rest of the European trainers are Sir Michael Stoute, who has saddled seven winners from 39 starters; Andre Fabre, whose quintet of winners includes last year's Turf victor, Talismanic; and John Gosden, whose four wins have come from 33 runners. He's 0 from 12 since Pounced won the 2009 Juvenile Turf, and has endured some terrible luck in the interim, perhaps most notably with The Fugue (twice) and Golden Horn.

 

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Leading Breeders' Cup Trainers, by number of wins - Europeans in bold italics (statistics courtesy of breederscup.com)
Pos Wins Runs Win% Trainer
1 20 164 12.20% Lukas, D. Wayne
2 14 108 12.96% Baffert, Bob
3 12 124 9.68% O'Brien, Aidan P.
4 10 71 14.08% Brown, Chad C.
4 10 95 10.53% Mott, William I.
6 9 42 21.43% Mandella, Richard E.
6 9 63 14.29% McGaughey III, Claude R.
6 9 131 6.87% Pletcher, Todd A.
9 7 39 17.95% Stoute, Sir Michael R.
10 6 44 13.64% Asmussen, Steven M.
10 6 35 17.14% Drysdale, Neil D.
10 6 82 7.32% Frankel, Robert J.
13 5 49 10.20% Fabre, Andre
13 5 47 10.64% O'Neill, Doug F.
15 4 42 9.52% Casse, Mark E.
15 4 33 12.12% Gosden, John H. M.
15 4 31 12.90% McAnally, Ronald L.

 

Top Breeders' Cup Trainers: By Strike Rate

As impressive as the achievements of the above hall of fame are, it is worth taking stock not just of the number of wins for each trainer, but also the strike rate. As alluded to already, two trainers with nine Breeders' Cup wins apiece have got to that number by quite different means: Richard Mandella is the most selective of the top performers, winning with more than one in five of his entries; while Todd Pletcher rolls the dice most often, winning about one from every fifteen starters.

Aidan O'Brien is another man to cast his net wide, his twelve scores coming from 124 runners at a one in ten clip. Meanwhile, Sir Michael Stoute has boarded just 39 horses onto the 'plane (ignoring last year's scratch, Ulysses) for seven victories, and has the second best strike rate of any trainer with more than three Breeders' Cup wins to his name.

Chad Brown's ten winners from 71 runners (one in seven hit rate) also counts as a top class performance.

Leading Breeders' Cup Trainers, by strike rate (4+ wins) - Europeans in bold italics (statistics courtesy of breederscup.com)
Pos Wins Runs Win% Trainer
1 9 42 21.43% Mandella, Richard E.
2 7 39 17.95% Stoute, Sir Michael R. 
3 6 35 17.14% Drysdale, Neil D.
4 9 63 14.29% McGaughey III, Claude R.
5 10 71 14.08% Brown, Chad C.
6 6 44 13.64% Asmussen, Steven M.
7 14 108 12.96% Baffert, Bob
8 4 31 12.90% McAnally, Ronald L.
9 20 164 12.20% Lukas, D. Wayne
10 4 33 12.12% Gosden, John H. M. 
11 5 47 10.64% O'Neill, Doug F.
12 10 95 10.53% Mott, William I.
13 5 49 10.20% Fabre, Andre
14 12 124 9.68% O'Brien, Aidan P. 
15 4 42 9.52% Casse, Mark E.
16 6 82 7.32% Frankel, Robert J.
17 9 131 6.87% Pletcher, Todd A.

 

 

Selected Trainers' Breeders' Cup Record at Churchill Downs

The Breeders' Cup has been held at Churchill Downs eight times previously - in 2011, 2010, 2006, 2000, 1998, 1994, 1991 and 1988 - and it is worth remembering that the climate and track constitution in Kentucky is very different from a Californian setup. As such, the following are worthy of note:

- Just two of Bob Baffert's 14 victories came at Churchill, in 2011 and 1998. He has run 24 horses in Breeders' Cups at the venue (8.33%). Baffert also won with his sole starter, the peerless American Pharoah, the other time BC came to Kentucky, in Keeneland in 2015.

- Aidan O'Brien is 2/22 under the Twin Spires, both scores coming in 2011. He also recorded two victories (and a second place) from seven starters in Keeneland in 2015.

- Bill Mott has four Churchill Breeders' Cup wins to his name - two in 2011, one in 2010 and one in 1998 - from 27 starters. That's an excellent 14.8% hit rate. He was o from 4 in Keeneland, though Lea ran second in the Dirt Mile (behind the unstoppable Liam's Map).

- Todd Pletcher won three at Churchill in 2010 and two more at Keeneland in 2015. Those five came from 52 starters, at a decent rate of 9.62%.

It is worth emphasising the records of Pletcher and Mott - New York-based trainers - away from the west coast. The transit to Kentucky is shorter, the weather is more akin to east coast weather, and the one turn dirt mile is similar in that regard to Belmont, New York's monolithic main track. Their runners may be worth marking up in the Bluegrass State.

 

Other trainers to note

As I write, before the pre-entries, it is not yet known who will run what. But a trio of French trainers with identical winners and runners records are Pascal Bary, Jonathan Pease, and Freddie Head. Each has saddled three champions from eight attempts: Head of course with triple-Mile-winning Goldikova; Pease with Karakontie and Spinning World in the Mile, and Tikkanen in the Turf; and Bary with Domedriver and Six Perfections in the Mile, and Miss Alleged in the Turf.

It should be clear that the Mile is a race which has been kind to the French, but what may be less apparent is that Flaxman Holdings - the Niarchos family to you and me - have owned the four above in italics, as well as Miesque, a fifth winner for the venture in the Mile, and Main Sequence in the Turf.

If any of them nominate any of their inmates, especially in the Mile and especially if Niarchos/Flaxman-owned, they'll be worthy of at least a second look.

Matt

Breeders’ Cup 2017 Video Form Guide

The 2017 Breeders' Cup will be run for the first time at Del Mar racetrack, near San Diego, on the Southern Californian coast. The meeting features thirteen races spread over the first Friday and Saturday of November.

Entry to the races is decided by a jury of international handicappers, but there are also a number of "Win And You're In" (WAYI) races around the globe and throughout the calendar year. Below is a video form guide of all such races.

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Additionally, there is video form for all the main contenders. Use the search box to find a particular race or runner. All matching entries will be displayed.

Good luck!

DateRaceTrackCategoryDayRaceVideoNotable Runners
30 August 2017With Anticipation StakesSaratogaJuvenile Turf11ClickCatholic Boy, Untamed Domain
03 September 2017Del Mar Juvenile Turf StakesDel MarJuvenile Turf11ClickEncumbered
09 September 2017Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile StakesLeopardstownJuvenile Turf11ClickNelson
17 September 2017Summer StakesWoodbineJuvenile Turf11ClickUntamed Domain, Hemp Hemp Hurray
23 September 2017Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef StakesNewburyJuvenile Turf11Click (RUK subscribers only)James Garfield
30 September 2017Juddmonte Royal Lodge StakesNewmarketJuvenile Turf11ClickRoaring Lion
30 September 2017Juddmonte Middle Park StakesNewmarketJuvenile Turf11ClickU S Navy Flag, Sioux Nation, Beckford
30 September 2017Pilgrim StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile Turf11ClickSeabhac, Voting Control, Maraud
01 October 2017Qatar Prix Jean-Luc LagardereChantillyJuvenile Turf11ClickHappily, Masar
08 October 2017Dixiana Bourbon StakesKeenelandJuvenile Turf11ClickFlameaway, Tap Daddy
09 October 2017Zuma Beach StakesSanta Anita ParkJuvenile Turf11ClickMy Boy Jack
7 May 2017Steve Sexton MileLone Star ParkDirt Mile12ClickMor Spirit, Iron Fist
27 May 2017Gold Cup at Santa AnitaSanta Anita ParkDirt Mile12ClickCupid, Midnight Storm
10 June 2017Metropolitan HandicapBelmont ParkDirt Mile12ClickMor Spirit, Sharp Azteca
8 July 2017Cornhusker HandicapPrairie MeadowsDirt Mile12ClickIron Fist
22 July 2017TVG San Diego HandicapDel MarDirt Mile12ClickAccelerate, Arrogate
30 July 2017Monmouth Cup StakesMonmouth ParkDirt Mile12ClickSharp Azteca
26 August 2017Priority One Jets Forego StakesSaratogaDirt Mile12ClickDrefong, Awesome Slew, Mind Your Biscuits
26 August 2017H. Allen Jerkens StakesSaratogaDirt Mile12ClickPractical Joke, Takaful
26 August 2017Pat O'Brien StakesDel MarDirt Mile12ClickGiant Expectations
23 September 2017Kelso HandicapBelmont ParkDirt Mile12ClickSharp Azteca
24 September 2017Oklahoma DerbyRemington ParkDirt Mile12ClickBattle Of Midway, Colonelsdarktemper, Gato Del Oro
31 August 2017P G Johnson StakesSaratogaJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickOrbolution, Wild N Ready, Sassy Sienna
10 September 2017Moyglare Stud StakesCurragh RacecourseJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickHappily, Magical, September
17 September 2017Natalma StakesWoodbineJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickCapla Temptress, Dixie Moon, Wonder Gadot
29 September 2017Shadwell RockfelNewmarketJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickJuliet Capulet, Nyaleti, Gavota
30 September 2017Cheveley Park StakesNewmarketJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickClemmie, Madeline, Now You're Talking
01 October 2017Total Prix Marcel BoussacChantillyJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickWIld Illusion, Magical
01 October 2017Miss Grillo StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickSignificant Form, Best Performance, Orbolution
11 October 2017JP Morgan Chase Jessamine StakesKeenelandJuvenile Fillies Turf13ClickRushing Fall, Miss Mo Mentum
14 April 2017Apple Blossom HandicapOaklawn ParkDistaff14ClickStellar Wind, Terra Promessa
01 May 2017Gran Premio CriadoresPalermoDistaff14ClickKiriaki
03 June 2017Beholder MileSanta Anita ParkDistaff14ClickStellar Wind, Vale Dori, Finest City
10 June 2017Ogden Phipps StakesBelmont ParkDistaff14ClickSongbird, Highway Star
17 June 2017Fleur de Lis HandicapChurchill DownsDistaff14ClickForever Unbridled
23 July 2017Cotilllion StakesParxDistaff14ClickIt Tiz Well, Abel Tasman
30 July 2017Clement L. Hirsch HandicapDel MarDistaff14ClickStellar Wind, Vale Dori, Faithfully
19 August 2017Alabama HandicapSaratogaDistaff14ClickElate, It Tiz Well, New Money Honey, Mopotism
26 August 2017Personal Ensign H.SaratogaDistaff14ClickForever Unbridled
23 September 2017Coaching Club of America OaksSaratogaDistaff14ClickAbel Tasman, Elate
30 September 2017Beldame Invitational StakesBelmont ParkDistaff14ClickElate,
30 September 2017Zenyatta StakesSanta Anita ParkDistaff14ClickParadise Woods, Faithfully
08 October 2017Juddmonte Spinster StakesKeenelandDistaff14ClickRomantic Vision
02 September 2017Spinaway StakesSaratogaJuvenile Fillies25ClickLady Ivanka, Maya Malibu, Separationofpowers
2 September 2017Del Mar Debutante StakesDel MarJuvenile Fillies25ClickMoonshine Memories, Piedi Bianchi
16 September 2017Pocahontas StakesChurchill DownsJuvenile Fillies25ClickPatrona Margarita, Kelly's Humor
30 September 2017Chandelier StakesSanta Anita ParkJuvenile Fillies25ClickMoonshine Memories, Alluring Star, Piedi Bianchi
06 October 2017Darley Alcibiades StakesKeenelandJuvenile Fillies25ClickHeavenly Love, Princess Warrior, Kelly's Humor, Bet She Wins
07 October 2017Frizette StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile Fillies25ClickSeparationofpowers, Caledonia Road, Maya Malibu, Purrfect Miss
07 January 2017Maine Chance Farms Paddock StakesKenilworthFilly & Mare Turf26ClickBela-Bela
08 April 2017Coolmore Legacy Queen of the Turf StakesRandwickFilly & Mare Turf26ClickFoxplay
23 June 2017Coronation StakesAscotFilly & Mare Turf26ClickWinter, Roly Poly, Hydrangea,
25 June 2017Gran Premio PamplonaHipódromo de MonterricoFilly & Mare Turf26ClickBirdie Gold
22 July 2017Diana StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Turf26ClickLady Eli, Quidura
12 August 2017Beverly D. StakesArlington ParkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickDacita, Grand Jete, Kitten's Roar
24 August 2017Darley Yorkshire OaksYorkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickEnable, Queen's Trust
26 August 2017Ballston Spa StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Turf26ClickLady Eli
02 September 2017T. Von Zastrow StutenpreisBaden BadenFilly & Mare Turf26ClickAshiana
09 September 2017The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron StakesLeopardstownFilly & Mare Turf26ClickHydrangea, Winter, Wuheida, Roly Poly, Rhododendron
30 September 2017Rodeo Drive StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickAvenge
01 October 2017Longines Prix de L'OperaChantillyFilly & Mare Turf26ClickRhododendron, Hydrangea, Queen's Trust, Senga, Wuheida
07 October 2017Sun Chariot StakesNewmarketFilly & Mare Turf26ClickRoly Poly,
07 October 2017First Lady StakesKeenelandFilly & Mare Turf26ClickZipessa
08 October 2017Flower Bowl Invitational StakesBelmont ParkFilly & Mare Turf26ClickWar Flag, Dacita, Grand Jete
18 February 2017General George StakesLaurel ParkSprint27ClickImperial Hint, Stallwalkin' Dude
01 July 2017Smile Sprint HandicapGulfstream ParkSprint27ClickImperial Hint
08 July 2017Belmont Sprint ChampionshipBelmont ParkSprint27ClickMind Your Biscuits, Awesome Slew
09 June 2017True North StakesBelmont ParkSprint27ClickRoy H, Stallwalkin' Dude, Whitmore
29 July 2017Alfred G Vanderbilt StakesSaratogaSprint27ClickEl Deal, Awesome Banner, Limousine Liberal
29 July 2017Bing Crosby StakesDel MarSprint27ClickRansom the Moon, Roy H
30 September 2017Vosburgh Invitational StakesBelmont ParkSprint27ClickTakaful, El Deal, Stallwalkin' Dude
07 October 2017Santa Anita Sprint ChampionshipSanta Anita ParkSprint27ClickRoy H, Giant Expectations, Ransom The Moon
06 October 2017Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix StakesKeenelandSprint27ClickWhitmore, Awesome Banner, Limousine Liberal
01 April 2017Darley T. J. Smith StakesRandwickTurf Sprint28ClickChautauqua
09 April 2017Turf Monster StakesParxTurf Sprint28ClickPure Sensation, Mongolian Saturday, Holding Gold
10 June 2017Jaipur StakesBelmont ParkTurf Sprint28ClickDisco Partner, Green Mask, Hogy, Holding Gold, Pure Sensation
20 June 2017King's Stand StakesAscotTurf Sprint28ClickLady Aurelia, Marsha
02 July 2017Highlander StakesWoodbine RacetrackTurf Sprint28ClickGreen Mask
18 August 2017Del Mar Green Flash StakesDel MarTurf Sprint28ClickTribalist
25 August 2017Coolmore Nunthorpe StakesYorkTurf Sprint28ClickMarsha, Lady Aurelia
10 September 2017Derrinstown Stud Flying Five StakesCurragh RacecourseTurf Sprint28ClickCaravaggio
10 September 2017Allied Forces StakesBelmont ParkTurf Sprint28ClickWhite Flag, Big Handsome
01 October 2017Sprinters StakesNakayamaTurf Sprint28ClickRed Falx
01 October 2017Longines Prix de l'AbbayeChantillyTurf Sprint28ClickMarsha
07 October 2017Woodford StakesKeenelandTurf Sprint28ClickBucchero, Hogy, Mongolian Saturday
07 October 2017Belmont Turf Sprint StakesBelmont ParkTurf Sprint28ClickDisco Partner
04 September 2017Hopeful StakesSaratogaJuvenile29ClickSporting Chance, Free Drop Billy, Firenze Fire
04 September 2017Del Mar Futurity StakesDel MarJuvenile29ClickBolt d'Oro, Run Away
16 September 2017Iroquois StakesChurchill DownsJuvenile29ClickThe Tabulator, Hollywood Star
22 September 2017Bertram F Bongard StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile29ClickBattle Station
30 September 2017FrontRunner StakesSanta Anita ParkJuvenile29ClickBolt d'Oro, Solomini, Encumbered
07 October 2017Claiborne Breeders' FuturityKeenelandJuvenile29ClickFree Drop Billy, Lone Sailor
08 October 2017Foxwoods Champagne StakesBelmont ParkJuvenile29ClickFirenze Fire, Good Magic
25 May 2017Gran Premio 25 de MayoSan IsidroTurf210Click
Ordak Dan
02 June 2017Coronation CupEpsomTurf210ClickHighland Reel, Frontiersman
11 June 2017Gran Premio BrasilHipodromo de GaveaTurf210Click
Voador Magee
21 June 2017Prince of Wales's StakesAscotTurf210ClickHighland Reel, Ulysses, Queen's Trust, Decorated Knight
25 June 2017Takarazuka KinenHanshin RacecourseTurf210ClickSatono Crown
01 July 2017United Nations StakesMonmouth ParkTurf210ClickBigger Picture, Beach Patrol, Oscar Nominated
29 July 2017QIPCO King George VI & Queen Elizabeth StakesAscotTurf210Click
Enable
29 July 2017Bowling Green StakesSaratogaTurf210Click
Bigger Picture, Sadler's Joy
12 August 2017Arlington MillionArlington ParkTurf210ClickBeach Patrol, Fanciful Angel, Oscar Nominated, Divisidero
12 August 2017Secretariat StakesArlington ParkTurf210ClickOscar Performance
19 August 2017Del Mar HandicapDel MarTurf210Click
Hunt, Itsinthepost
23 August 2017Juddmonte International StakesYorkTurf210ClickUlysses, Decorated Knight
26 August 2017Sword Dancer Invitational StakesSaratogaTurf210ClickSadler's Joy, Money Multiplier, Frank Conversation
03 September 2017Longines Grosser Preis von BadenBaden BadenTurf210Click
Guignol
09 September 2017QIPCO Irish Champion StakesLeopardstownTurf210ClickDecorated Knight,
30 September 2017Joe Hirsch Turf Classic InvitationalBelmont ParkTurf210ClickBeach Patrol, Fanciful Angel, Oscar Performance, Sadler's Joy
01 October 2017Qatar Prix de l'Arc de TriompheChantillyTurf210Click
Cloth Of Stars, Ulysses,
01 October 2017John Henry Turf ChampionshipSanta Anita ParkTurf210Click
Itsinthepost, Frank Conversation
15 October 2017Pattinson Canadian InternationalWoodbineTurf210Click
Oscar Nominated
05 February 2017Las Virgenes StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Unique Bella, Mopotism, Champagne Room
04 March 2017Santa Ysabel StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Unique Bella, Abel Tasman
06 May 2017Humana Distaff StakesChurchill DownsFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Paulassilverlining, Finest City, Carina Mia
01 July 2017Princess Rooney HandicapGulfstream ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Curlin's Approval
08 July 2017Great Lady M StakesLos AlamitosFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Skye Diamonds, Constellation, Finest City
26 July 2017Honorable Miss StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Paulassilverlining, Finley'sluckycharm, By The Moon
13 August 2017Rancho Bernardo StakesDel MarFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Skye Diamonds, Constellation
26 August 2017Ballerina StakesSaratogaFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
By The Moon, Highway Star, Paulassilverlining, Curlin's Approval
24 September 2017Gallant Bloom HandicapBelmont ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Highway Star, Carina Mia
07 October 2017Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes
KeenelandFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Finley'sluckycharm, Chalon
08 October 2017LA Woman StakesSanta Anita ParkFilly & Mare Sprint211Click
Unique Bella, Princess Karen
07 January 2017L'Ormarins Queen's Plate
KenilworthMile 212Click
Legal Eagle
01 April 2017 The Star Doncaster MileRandwickMile212Click
It's Somewhat
06 May 2017Turf ClassicChurchill DownsMile212Click
Divisidero, Beach Patrol, Oscar Nominated, Bal A Bali, Ballagh Rocks
28 May 2017Gran Premio de Hipico FalabellaClub Hipico de SantiagoMile212Click
Top Casablance
03 June 2017Shoemaker MileSanta Anita ParkMile212Click
Bal A Bali, Heart To Heart
04 June 2017Yasuda KinenTokyo RacecourseMile212Click
Satono Aladdin
10 June 2017Manhattan StakesBelmot ParkMile212Click
World Approval, Beach Patrol, Divisidero, Sadler's Joy
22 July 2017Eddie Read StakesDel MarMile212Click
Hunt, Mr. Roary,
02 August 2017Qatar Sussex StakesGoodwoodMile212Click
Here Comes When
12 August 2017Fourstardave Handicap StakesSaratogaMile212Click
World Approval, Ballagh Rocks
13 August 2017Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois
DeauvilleMile212Click
Al Wukair
20 August 2017Del Mar MileDel MarMile212Click
Blackjackcat, Om
04 September 2017Bernard Baruch Handicap StakesSaratogaMile212Click
Heart To Heart
16 September 2017Ricoh Woodbine MileWoodbineMile212Click
World Approval, Lancaster Bomber, Long On Value
07 October 2017Shadwell Turf MileKeenelandMile212Click
Suedois, Ballagh Rocks, Heart To Heart, Divisidero
07 October 2017Obviously MileSanta Anita ParkMile212Click
Blackjackcat
19 February 2017February StakesTokyo RacecourseClassic 213Click
Gold Dream
25 March 2017Dubai World CupMeydanClassic213Click
Arrogate, Gun Runner, Mubtaahij
22 April 2017Californian StakesSanta Anita ParkClassic213Click
Collected
17 June 2017Stephen Foster HandicapChurchill DownsClassic213Click
Gun Runner
24 June 2017Precisionist StakesSanta Anita ParkClassic 213Click
Collected, Accelerate
30 July 2017Haskell Invitational Monmouth ParkClassic213Click
Girvin, Battle Of Midway
05 August 2017The WhitneySaratogaClassic 213Click
Gun Runner, Keen Ice
19 August 2017TVG Pacific ClassicDel MarClassic213Click
Collected, Arrogate, Accelerate
26 August 2017Travers StakesSaratogaClassic213Click
West Coast, Gunnevera
02 September 2017Woodward StakesSaratogaClassic213Click
Gun Runner
23 September 2017Pennsylvania Derby StakesParxClassic213Click
West Coast
29 September 2017Koffy Diamond StakesDundalkClassic213Click
War Decree
30 September 2017 Awesome Again StakesSanta Anita ParkClassic213Click
Mubtaahij, Win The Space, Midnight Storm, Cupid, Curlin Rules
07 October 2017Jockey Club Gold Cup InvitationalBelmont ParkClassic213Click
Diversify, Keen Ice, Pavel

Breeders’ Cup 2016: Punting Debrief

highland-reel-sanita-1aBreeders' Cup XXXIII (or 33, as we like to say over here) was a feast of high class racing action. Although many of the main characters, let alone the bit part players, would be unfamiliar to most European viewers, the quality and competitiveness of the racing will have shone through the cathode ray tube in even the most grizzled of black and white tellybox households.

The problem with quality competitive races is that it makes punting fiendishly tricky. Last year across the same weekend, I'd managed to land on some bumper payoffs, and shared those suggestions with subscribers to the geegeez Breeders' Cup Compendium. Winners at 25/1, 14/1, 12/1, and on, were unlikely to be repeated; sadly, the reality was that winners of any colour were very hard to come by at a meeting where just one favourite obliged, and he was 12/1 for most of the day in UK.

Although there is a silver lining to this story, here in unnervingly realistic technicolour is my take on the picks in that report, race by race, along with the videos, so you can judge for yourself whether we were unlucky or I am merely deluded.

It started Friday night GMT, with the

Juvenile Turf

½ pt win GOOD SAMARITAN 6/1 - 3rd 5/2 (horror run, never nearer)

½ pt win BIG SCORE 10/1 - 5th 6/1 (never nearer)

¼ pt e/w CHANNEL MAKER 40/1 - 7th 28/1 (tracked leaders, weakened inside final furlong)

14 ran

Three decent value calls here, all easily beating SP. Good Samaritan was comfortably the best horse in the race but suffered a tough trip. He's one to follow.

"On the first turn, it looked like the horse in front of me clipped heels so I had to take a hold of Good Samaritan and wait a little longer. After all of the (early trouble), he responded very nicely. He´s a good horse" - Joel Rosario, jockey

**

Dirt Mile

3 pts win DORTMUND 11/10 - 4th 8/13 (chased leader, led 3f out, weakened)

¼ pt e/w TEXAS CHROME 25/1 - 9th 40/1 (midfield, soon beaten)

¼ pt e/w POINT PIPER 28/1 - 6th 33/1 (held up, never nearer)

9 ran

This was really all about Dortmund, who was massively disappointing. Many people's banker of the weekend - including mine - he was cooked turning in, along with a number of my own good-looking multiples.

**

Juvenile Fillies' Turf

¼ pt win LA CORONEL 9/1 - 6th 5/1 (held up wide, headway 2f out, kept on, never nearer)

¼ pt win VICTORY TO VICTORY 14/1 - Non-Runner

¼ pt win NEW MONEY HONEY 14/1 - WON 9/1 (prominent, quickened, kept on well)

¼ pt win RYMSKA 25/1 - 5th 20/1 (held up, kept on well, never near to challenge)

"I was further back than I wanted and was five, six wide so it was very difficult for La Coronel to win from there" - Florent Geroux, jockey

14 ran

A winner, albeit for fun stakes, and good runs from our other pair to make the line up. All well in front of SP again.

**

Distaff

1.5 pts win STELLAR WIND 7/2 - 4th 5/2 (missed break, pushed along, outpaced 2f out, kept on)

8 ran

Stellar Wind lost this at the start: she gave the other two at the head of the market five lengths or so at the gate, was sent wide rather than inside around the home turn costing more ground, and stayed on behind the duelling leaders inside the final quarter. This looked a pretty average big race ride to me.

**

SATURDAY

Juvenile Fillies

1 pt win YELLOW AGATE 6/1 - 10th 11/2 (short of room and hampered, lost position, steadily weakened)

1 pt e/w JAMYSON N’GINGER 12/1 - 5th 12/1 (held up, kept on, never nearer)

12 ran

Yellow Agate had a troubled passage - almost clipped heels - but was probably not good enough in truth. Jamyson N'Ginger was last at the end of the back stretch and managed to pass six of her rivals, but the birds had flown. She too got chopped at the start.

**

Filly & Mare Turf

1 pt win SEVENTH HEAVEN 3/1 - 4th 10/3 (midfield, kept on, nearest finish)

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½ pt e/w CATCH A GLIMPSE 25/1 - 8th 20/1 (led then tracked from 2nd, weakened final furlong)

13 ran

An inspired Frankie ride on Queen's Trust to win this, and I got the bet here totally wrong, not that I'd have been on Frankie in any case. Seventh Heaven is more of a 12f filly than 10f, and she ran like it. Catch A Glimpse was a fair call, running well for a long time, but the bet was over-staked - should have been ¼ pt e/w.

**

Sprint

1 pt win A.P. INDIAN 2/1 - 4th 9/4 (chased leaders, soon ridden, lost 3rd late on)

7 ran

The Indian had been on the go a long time, and that may have been the issue here. So too may have been the trip west, though he's proven on the road having won at four different tracks in 2016. Either way, he didn't bring his A game to the table, and was never in this. Disappointing effort. Hats off to the winner, another huge Baffert improver.

**

Turf Sprint

½ pt e/w HOLY LUTE 16/1 - 6th 20/1 (midfield, pushed along entering straight, outpaced)

½ pt e/w CELESTINE 10/1 - 12th 7/1 (in rear, soon beaten)

½ pt e/w AMBITIOUS BREW 14/1 (midfield, hung on the bend 2f out, weakened)

14 ran

Ugh. I was happy to take three shots here, but they should have all been penny plays in a wide open race. I over-staked by two here. Amazingly, this was the one race the favourite won in the entire meeting. He was a 'class turnback' horse (Grade 1 performer dropping to 6.5f), the same as Celestine and A Lot; and that angle seems to hold sway at the moment over the course specialists when the Turf Sprint comes to Santa Anita. It's a wacky race...

**

Juvenile

½ pt e/w THEORY 10/1 - 10th 12/1 (tracked leaders, soon beaten)

¼ pt e/w LOOKIN AT LEE 33/1 - 4th 33/1 (held up, kept on, never nearer)

11 ran

Another wide open race. Theory ran a limp sort of race, but Lookin At Lee was a place away from hitting the board. In fairness, he was a couple of lengths behind the third but his jockey might have asked for more earlier. No real complaints though. The second horse, Not This Time, was a bit unlucky and quotes of 14/1 for the Kentucky Derby for a locally-trained colt who should relish the longer distance are reasonable, though not especially exciting.

**

Turf

2 pts win FLINTSHIRE 5/2 - 2nd 2/1 (prominent, kept on but no chance with winner)

¼ pt e/w MONEY MULTIPLIER 40/1 - 6th 25/1 (in touch, outpaced a furlong out)

12 ran

I wrote this in the guide:

I have backed Flintshire. I think he has a rock solid chance to become the first horse aged six or above to win the Turf, and I will win a pretty penny if he does. My historical hoodoo in the race, however, means you’d probably be foolish to follow me in, even though his price on the day ought to be slightly shorter than the current 5/2 (11/4 Betway if you can get on with them). Found deserves enormous respect for her exploits over the past two seasons, and she’s an incredibly consistent top class mare. But surely this is a bridge too far. Surely! Highland Reel is a slightly fresher horse, and the pace – or lack of it – in the race could play into his hands. He has real class, and I think he’s the biggest danger. Of the rest, there will be worse each way bets over the weekend than Money Multiplier, and Ulysses would not be a shock winner if living up to the murmurings.

The winning ride was as enterprising as it was predictable, and I should have had a saver on it in the picks. But it should have probably not been necessary had Javier Castellano not been caught in a trap - horses front and right - at a key juncture in the race. The pain of this race just keeps burning...

2016 2nd Flintshire
2015 2nd Golden Horn
2014 2nd Flintshire
2013 2nd The Fugue
2012 3rd St Nicholas Abbey
2011 6th Midday
2010 3rd Bekhabad (I still can't believe Dangerous Midge won!)
2009 WON Conduit (whoop)
2008 4th Soldier Of Fortune
2007 5th Dylan Thoma (possibly my worst Breeders' Cup result ever, though a number of contenders are in this list)
2006 Ah, enough already - 6th Hurricane Run for the record...

I. Hate. This. Race. (I just watched the tape again, and it looks worse every time I see it...)

**

Filly & Mare Sprint

1 pt win HAVEYOUGONEAWAY 9/2 - 7th 4/1 (midfield, kept on)

½ pt e/w BY THE MOON 9/1 - 5th 8/1 (tracked leaders, no extra)

13 ran

No real excuses, just a couple of sub-par efforts, though Haveyougoneaway probably should have been racing earlier, having tanked into the straight.

**

Mile

½ pt e/w IRONICUS 10/1 - 4th 9/2 (held up, stopped 2f out, finished well)

½ pt win TEPIN 3/1 - 2nd 7/2 (held up, chased winner but always held)

14 ran

I have no idea how Tourist won this. He showed hitherto unseen dash to repel Tepin's game charge. Maybe it was the sizzling pace which he's not faced too often in his races. Ironicus did what Ironicus now seems to do, and finish fast and (too too) late. This race rather summed things up, with the win bet finishing 2nd and the each way play smashing SP and finishing 4th.

**

Classic

2 pts win ARROGATE 11/4 - WON 7/4 (prominent, headway 2f out, got up last 50 yards)

1/5th pt e/w HOPPERTUNITY 28/1 - 4th 20/1 (held up, ran on, not reach leaders)

1/10th pt e/w WIN THE SPACE 100/1 - 9th 100/1 (in rear, soon beaten)

9 ran

A winner of the finale, and a terrific race, too. We might have nicked a couple more place shekels as Hoppertunity just failed to collar Keen Ice in the last stride. The top two were eleven lengths clear, and are probably the best pair of racehorses in the world right now. If you haven't watched this year, it's worth the time. Arrogate is a machine.

**

At the end of it all, as a result of some tough races, some tough luck, and some poor staking/picking, we finished down 15 points. Ouch. It was five weeks of work to produce 15,000 words, pace charts, stats tables, form summaries and so on... and when it pans out like 2015 it is a thing of wonder. When it pans out like 2016, it is a desperate waste of time. Alas, we only know after the fact which it will be: the effort expended was the same, the results achieved polarically different.

It will be little consolation to most that I crashed and burned as badly as those who followed me in. However, what may be of some consolation is the following...

I mentioned on Saturday that I had decided to donate £10 (50%) from every gross sale to the Injured Jockeys' Fund in light of the unthinkable news about Freddy Tylicki. Partly as a result of how things went picks-wise over the weekend, and partly because it's just a decent thing to do, I'm not going to send them 50%. I'm going to send 75% of the gross revenues.

201 of you signed up for a copy of the Compendium - you can download it here if you want to have a flick through - for gross sales of £4,020. Although I have to pay a handful of affiliate commissions, plus VAT, PayPal fees, and tax on all of those sales, I will pledge £3,015 to IJF on behalf of the geegeez readership. I'll take a small hit financially, and write off a lot of work time. But so what? It's irrelevant in the grand scheme when sat next to, well, most things in truth, but certainly the events of Kempton Park last week and the distinctly unwelcome lasting legacy of that afternoon.

I'm really sorry results were so frustrating/disappointing/naff* (*delete as applicable), but at least we've been able to support a fantastic charity at a time of keen focus.

In the coming days, when I work out how to, I will add permanent buttons for visitors to donate directly to either of IJF or Racing Welfare any time they'd like to. That is, of course, entirely optional, but if, say, you have a nice win - perhaps because of the toolkit inside Geegeez Gold - you might like to send a couple of coins to a worthy cause.

Thank you so much for supporting the Compendium and, for those who only signed up because of the charitable element, special thanks. To all, I'm really sorry it didn't work out better this time.

Best Regards,

Matt

Breeders’ Cup: Bankers or Blowouts?

Breeders’ Cup 2016: Bankers or Blowouts?

The 2016 production of Breeders’ Cup poses as many questions as any of the 32 renewals that preceded it, with two days of high class closure promised against that film set backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains this weekend.

Three of the most poignant riddles can be found where the shortest of the thirteen Breeders’ Cup race favourites are reposed: in the Dirt Mile, the Distaff, and the Classic itself.

Dortmund (Dirt Mile), Songbird (Distaff) and California Chrome (Classic) have shown themselves to be champion material, but are they more likely to get the job done or come unstitched by the elevated company, and the specific demands, of this weekend’s assignments? In short, is this trio comprised of bankers, or blowouts?

My thoughts below are primarily based on an interpretation of market value, as opposed to who the most likely winner may be. That ought to become apparent as you skip through.

Dirt Mile

Dortmund is favoured, at around even money in the early wagering skirmishes, to prevail in the Dirt Mile on Friday. Maligned by some as the easy option for Chrome-dodging Classic contenders, it shaped to be a more intriguing – if less high class – encounter than the showpiece until the defection of Frosted to that latter finale.

Of those who are engaged, Dortmund’s form in not winning towers above his ‘Dirty Mile’ rivals. A sequence of second-third-second relates that he was closest to California Chrome twice, and only bested by that one and super-smart mare, Beholder, when settling for bronze in between.

He’s two from two at a mile, albeit in lesser company, and ‘turns back’ to that distance here, a tactic consistently adopted by Dirt Mile winners (perhaps offering credence to those who say this is the slot for failed Classic aspirants).

The big danger, possibly the only danger, was Frosted, Godolphin’s gorgeous grey. But he turns his back on the turn back, even after recording a monster 123 Beyer speed figure in the Metropolitan Handicap over a mile three starts ago.

In Frosted’s absence, the market has Runhappy and Gun Runner as the most credible alternatives. This pair of runners don’t look cut from the same cloth as the horse named after a German city, and which runs in the colours of the stars and stripes.

Regular readers will know of my hitherto unwavering affection for Runhappy, a horse who shunned raceday medication when thrusting a small town girl trainer into the limelight as he seared home in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

But it’s been more Unhappy than Runhappy since then. An acrimonious split between horse and trainer has seen the four-year-old son of Super Saver race just twice more. The first of that pair was in the Malibu Stakes last December, when he was good enough to beat Grade 1 opposition over seven furlongs.

The second was more than nine months later, five weeks ago, in the Ack Ack Handicap, a Grade 3 over a mile. On that first attempt at the mile, he weakened out of it in the final eighth. Of course, there’s every chance he’ll improve for the much-needed run; but still, that wasn’t the sort of performance that strikes fear into a horse of the class of Dortmund.

Gun Runner is a three-year-old who was good enough, and precocious enough, to be third in the Kentucky Derby in early May. He’s been on the go ever since, racking up seven starts and three wins in 2016. But his Grade 1 scorecard is blank with a pair of bronzes rounded out by a fifteen-length trouncing at the hands of the enigma that is Arrogate – more of him anon.

It is possible that Dortmund could be compromised by a battle for the early lead with Runhappy, but more likely is that he’ll track that one’s superior sprint toe and pick him off somewhere in the final 330 yards.

To my eye, and through my wallet, Dortmund looks banker material, and I’ve played him as such in a dutched double with Lord Nelson and A P Indian in the Sprint.

Dortmund: Banker

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Distaff

Eleven runs, eleven wins, by an aggregate of 60 ½ lengths. What is not to love about the beautiful Songbird? Honestly? Nothing. And yet…

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If we poke a little deeper into that spotless record, there are a couple of niggles. Three in fact.

The first is the clock, or at least the Beyer interpretation of ol’ tickety-tock. Songbird has troubled the triple digit trackers only once in that eleven-race sequence when she recorded a 101. In her defence – not that she needs my support there – that career high speed figure was produced in her only try at the nine-furlong Distaff distance. Moreover, it is not her fault that she’s been unextended to bash the daylights out of every filly reckless enough to line up alongside. And yet…

In four juvenile starts she raced exclusively against her own age group. There’s nothing wrong with that of course – it’s absolutely the norm. But in seven races this term, she has still yet to face an older rival. Here she is then, stepping out of Under-21 class and into Open company for the first time. Is she good enough? Probably. Possibly. It depends on the quality of the open company she will face.

And therein lies the third niggle. She is facing not one but two extremely talented older horses in Beholder and Stellar Wind.

Beholder was considered the main – many felt, the only – danger to American Pharoah in the 2015 Classic until spiking a temperature after a troubled ride to Keeneland and scratching from the main event, where she was bidding for a record third Breeders’ Cup win in three different events. There are no such travel headaches here, on her home sand, where she has a record of 13 wins from 15 starts.

She was second in the other two, once in 2013 and then last time out, a neck behind Stellar Wind. Beholder is six now and, though she carries her class brilliantly – she’s notched Beyer figures of 101-101-106-110 in her last four starts – there is an aura of aging susceptibility about a finishing position sequence of 1222 in that quartet of rapid shemozzles.

It can readily be argued that she was unlucky to record a 110 and get beaten – not many horses do that each year – and it was against Stellar Wind to whom she gave best, by no more than a neck, in a thrilling stretch battle. Her conqueror, a four-year-old daughter of Curlin, has been lightly raced this season, competing just three times.

Beaten into second by Beholder on the first of those, she has turned the tables in both subsequent matchups, and her form cycle has a likably upward trajectory to it. She looks set to enjoy a good trip just off the heels of the leaders – expected to be Beholder, I’m A Chatterbox, and possibly Songbird – and if she can match or better her last run she is the biggest danger to Songbird’s unbeaten sequence.

It looks a fantastic race, and one which is very hard to call. My heart says Songbird, my value head says Stellar Wind.

Songbird: Blowout (but I hope I’m wrong)

Classic

And so to the main event, and the coronation of a homecoming king, California Chrome. That’s how things look betting-wise, but is it as cut and dried as that? An almost full field tells you that plenty are prepared to buy a ticket in this $6 million lottery. Sadly for some wannabe’s in that midst, not all tickets are issued equally in this draw.

The Classic credentials of Chrome are as immediately appealing as those of Songbird in the Distaff: an unblemished six-for-six record in 2016 that has taken in the $10 million Dubai World Cup amongst two other Grade 1 scores.

Chromey’s consistency on the clock is confirmed with ratings of 111-113-112 in his last three outings, numbers that would usually be good enough to claim a Classic. And that might well be how it comes to pass: there may be a coronation but there is unlikely to be a procession in the manner of American Pharoah’s Beholder-less romp last year.

Here, even if you discount the prospects of Frosted, as I do – form of 42375 at 1m2f and beyond, his blitzkrieging 123 speed figure recorded over a mile, the Dirt Mile the obvious slot for him – there remains a monumental fly in the ointment.

His name is Arrogate and, if you’ve never heard of him, that’s all right. Very few people outside of the Southern California scene had prior to his last run. There, he vanned from coast to coast to rock up as an ‘also ran’ 12/1 poke in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, having compiled a four-game unbeaten streak in maiden special weights and optional allowance claimers: not the stuff of Grade 1 winners as a rule.

There were no rules when Arrogate smashed his field to smithereens in the manner of a UFC champion gone doolally at an amateur boxing club. At the first call he had a lead of half a length. Half a mile into that ten-furlong top class event, he’d extended his advantage to a length. After six furlongs, he was two up, and at the mile the lead had stretched out to seven and a half lengths over a field of genuine Grade 1 horses.

In the last quarter, he ran them ragged, adding another six lengths to the second horse’s distance beaten tally, under little more than hand urging.

It was a mesmerizing, sensational, jaw-dropping, clock-stopping performance. A new track record over an oft-run distance at a Grade 1 track, Saratoga. Despite what was close to a perfect trip, there was no fluke about this effort.

Arrogate has trained up to the Classic since then, a tactic at which his trainer, Bob Baffert, is a past master. His works have been ridiculous, causing clockers to get uncomfortably moist in that corner of Santa Anita racetrack to the right of the stabling. Can he back that Travers effort up? That, dear reader, is the six-million-dollar question. If he can, he almost certainly wins.

It will be extremely interesting to watch how the Classic unfolds: both California Chrome and Arrogate are blood and thunder front runners generally, and what a sight it would be if they set to it from the gate, had the rest beaten off by the home turn, and slugged it out up the straight. These things almost never go according to such a populist script, but maybe, just maybe, this Classic will be that classic tussle.

As a footnote, there is a third possibility that the two prime contenders burn each other out, setting things up for an unconsidered closer. It happened in 2011 when Drosselmeyer outstayed them at Churchill Downs, and front running is not normally the way Classics are won.

With a terrific race in prospect, Cal Chrome is too short at around even money, in spite of his obvious win chance. I think Arrogate is the most exciting horse in the world right now and, though I’ve missed the price while deliberating the repeatability of that Travers phenom, I will be in his corner come Saturday evening.

California Chrome: Blowout (just)

To get the full lowdown on each of the 13 Breeders' Cup races across Friday and Saturday, click the banner below:

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Breeders’ Cup 2016 Pre-Entries Announced

Breeders' Cup 2016 Form and Picks

Breeders' Cup 2016 Form and Picks7

The pre-entries for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, hosted at Santa Anita, California, have been announced this afternoon. Europe has 28 of the pre-entries, though a number require luck to make the cut, and are currently hovering in the ‘Also Eligible’ lists.

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for 18 of the European pre-entries, five of them cross-entered in multiple races, and outlined his plans earlier today. Of his trio in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf, Promise To Be True is more likely to run in France this weekend, but both Roly Poly – who has stamina to prove – and dual Group 1 runner up, Hydrangea, are expected to board the plane from Ballydoyle on Monday.

O’Brien is doubly pre-entered in the Juvenile Turf as well, with another Group 1 second, Lancaster Bomber, joined by Intelligence Cross.

On Saturday, the Coolmore squad spread out across the turf races and may also saddle Found in the Classic. Seventh Heaven will attempt to show her Ascot Champions’ Day effort to be all wrong in the Filly and Mare Turf, where she could be joined by stablemate, Pretty Perfect. Alice Springs is also entered here, as a second preference to her more likely appearance in the Mile.

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Washington DC has been engaged in what could be a fascinating Turf Sprint, and Highland Reel is the main Ballydoyle runner in the Turf. The latter may also be joined by Mondialiste, whose official preference is for the Mile, but is understood to be under strong consideration for the longer event; and Sir Michael Stoute’s “forgotten” horse, Ulysses, could lay claim to being ‘the wrong Euro’ this time around in a race which rarely goes according to the European hierarchy.

Arc winner, Found, will attempt to become the first Ballydoyle winner of the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, in what would rank as one of the most remarkable CV’s in horse racing history. Found already has that Arc victory as well as a Breeders’ Cup Turf title to her name.

Henry Candy affirmed his excitement about running Limato in the Mile, a race in which Britain has not had a winner since Barathea in 1994. Limato flies out on Saturday, and will likely do very little on the Santa Anita track prior to his big date a week later.

No decision has yet been made about the application of Lasix, though the trainer is cautiously leaning towards running without the raceday medication.

The wise guy horse in the Mile may well turn out to be yet another Ballydoyle entry, Cougar Mountain. O’Brien confirmed earlier today that he was an intended runner, saying, “He loves fast ground and a good pace, like [when a length third] in the Queen Anne – that’s when he gives his best running”.

Bettors and racing fans now have slightly more shape to the race programme across Breeders’ Cup weekend, with the next – and final – stage being the post position draw and field confirmations next Monday.

Readers keen to get a head start on their Breeders’ Cup homework may be interested to know that geegeez’ Breeders’ Cup Compendium 2016 is available now. Full details can be found here.

Breeders’ Cup 2016: Mile Video Form Guide

One of the hardest to swallow Breeders' Cup stats - if you're British or Irish at least - is that those two nations are zero from their last 52 runners in the Mile, a sequence stretching all the way back to Ridgewood Pearl in 1995. Mondialiste went close last year, but it was US mare, Tepin, who got it done, and she will be favoured for the repeat in a race which has seen plenty double - or even triple - up.

Breeders' Cup Mile 2016 Video Form Guide

E.P.Taylor Stakes (1m2f, Woodbine, firm)


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Matron Stakes (1m, Leopardstown, good)


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Prix du Moulin (1m, Chantilly, good to firm)

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Lennox Stakes (7f, Goodwood, good to firm)

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Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (1m, Keeneland, firm)

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Manhattan Handicap Stakes (1m2f, Belmont, firm)


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Sun Chariot Stakes (1m, Newmarket, good to firm)


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Prix de la Foret (7f, Chantilly, good to firm)


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Swingtime Stakes (1m, Santa Anita, firm)


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Del Mar Mile Stakes (1m, Del Mar, firm)


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Shoemaker Mile (1m, Santa Anita, firm)


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Arlington Million (1m2f, Arlington, firm)


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City Of Hope Mile (1m, Santa Anita, firm)


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Queen Anne Stakes (1m, Ascot, soft)


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Woodbine Mile (1m, Woodbine, good)


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Frank E. Kilroe Mile (1m, Santa Anita, good)

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Full 2016 Breeders' Cup Video Form Race Index

Friday

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

Breeders’ Cup Distaff

Saturday

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf

Breeders’ Cup Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Mile

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Breeders’ Cup Turf

Breeders’ Cup Classic

 

Breeders’ Cup 2016: Filly & Mare Turf Video Form Guide

This used to be a great race for Europe but, in recent times, it's been a home team benefit. Only Sir Michael Stoute's 2013 winner, Dank, has prevented a clean sweep for the locals since 2009.

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf 2016 Video Form Guide

E.P.Taylor Stakes (1m2f, Woodbine, firm)


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Beverly D. Stakes (1m 1 1/2f, Arlington, firm)


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Rodeo Drive Stakes (1m2f, Santa Anita, firm)

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Flower Bowl Stakes (1m2f, Belmont, firm)

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Ballston Spa Stakes (1m1/2f, Saratoga, firm)

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First Lady Stakes (1m, Keeneland, firm)


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Prix de l'Opera (1m2f, Chantilly, good to firm)


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Clasico Pamplona (1m2f, Monterrico (Peru), good)


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Yorkshire Oaks (1m4f, York, good to firm)


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Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (1m1f, Keeneland, firm)


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J & B Met (1m2f, Kenilworth, good)

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Full 2016 Breeders' Cup Video Form Race Index

Friday

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

Breeders’ Cup Distaff

Saturday

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf

Breeders’ Cup Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Mile

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

Breeders’ Cup Turf

Breeders’ Cup Classic

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