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Breeders Cup Distaff Trends

Breeders Cup Distaff Trends

Breeders Cup Distaff Trends

Breeders Cup Distaff Trends

The Distaff, or Ladies' Classic as it was briefly called, is run over the same course and distance as the Classic itself, and has an impressive roll of honour, including the likes of Royal Delta twice, Azeri, and story horse, Zenyatta.

Staying on Royal Delta for a moment, she'll be five this time around and is bidding for a hat-trick - or three-peat as they say in the US of A. Like many other fans of the sport, I hope she does it. There are bets to be made in most races, but sometimes a race is made for watching rather than wagering and, if such a thing exists at Breeders Cup 30, then this is that.

The key to a Santa Anita Distaff might well be being on, or close to, the lead. That has been the case with all four of the Santa Anita Distaff's run on dirt. The two run on Pro-Ride went to closers, but dirt is not Pro-Ride.

Expect Royal Delta to be prominent early, and expect others to try to harass her there.

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Breeders Cup Distaff Other Key Trends

It generally takes a battle-hardened filly or mare to win the Distaff, and eighteen of the last 22 winners had between six and eight previous runs that season. Royal Delta enters off a perfect profile six efforts.

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It's a feature of almost all Breeders Cup races, and one as prestigious as the Distaff is bound to demand it too: a horse simply MUST have run well last time out to have any chance of winning the Distaff.

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Last year, Royal Delta won the Beldame by nine lengths; the year before, she ran second to Havre de Grace; in 2010, Unrivaled Belle was second in the Beldame...

...Life Is Sweet ran two lengths behind Zenyatta in a Grade 1 in 2009; and in 2008, Zenyatta herself won the Lady's Secret - a Grade 1 - by three lengths.

The list goes on and on. A placed effort, or within three lengths of the winner, last time out is a fundamental requirement for Breeders Cup winners.

No filly has won the Distaff after more than 35 days off the track since 1998. A recent run looks extremely important in that context.

A win or close up placed effort in a Grade 1 is also an important attribute shared by most Distaff winners this century. Royal Delta was a Grade 1 winner in her two Ladies Classic-winning seasons, and Unrivaled Belle was second in three straight Grade 1's prior to taking gold in this.

Before that, Life Is Sweet and Zenyatta both had Grade 1 seasonal success on their résumé. Ditto Ginger Punch in 2007, while Round Pond in 2006 had finished third in the G1 Beldame on her previous start and had won a Grade 1 as a juvie in the previous season.

Four-year-olds have won twelve of the last eighteen renewals of the Distaff, with three-year-olds chipping in with all bar one of the remaining six renewals. In that regard, Royal Delta has it to do.

That said, Escena in 1998 and, before here, One Dreamer ('94), Paseana ('92), and Bayakoa ('89 and '90), had all won aged either five or six. So it's far from impossible, even if the balance of data leans towards a younger lady.

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Breeders Cup Distaff Key Prep Races

As you'll have guessed if you've read from the top, there are some key prep races for this. The most notable pair are the Beldame at New York's Belmont Park for East Coasters, and the Zenyatta (formerly known as the Lady's Secret) run on the same track as the Distaff itself.

The Spinster and the Personal Ensign, as well as the Clement L Hirsch make up the remainder of the WAYI races.

Royal Delta won the Personal Ensign this year, and was second to Princess Of Sylmar in the Beldame. Lady Of Fifty won the Clement L Hirsch, while Beholder easily took the Zenyatta and Emollient also did it well in the Spinster.

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Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trends

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trends

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trends

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trends

In the first six instances of this fairly new contest, four have been won by the European raiding party, two each by John Gosden and Aidan O'Brien. Moreover, all three Santa Anita prizes went through customs headed for Britain or Ireland. And in the two years Europe didn't win, they were second in the Monmouth mud, before striking out in 2010.

With the lasix ban in this juvenile race also favouring Europe, this looks a very strong race for the raiders.

However, the same note of caution for all turf races applies: jockeymanship is key, and there will be hard luck stories aplenty once more in 2013. Last year, Ryan Moore got a charmed split a furlong out, which won him the race.

Of the home winners, one of the two - Pluck - arrived via Woodbine, and that Canadian track seems to be a magnet for precocious juvenile turfers.

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Other Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trends to consider

Look for fairly experienced youngsters here. Pounced did win off just three starts, but the other five all had between four and six career efforts, and that seems optimal.

George Vancouver ran third in the Dewhurst on his previous start; Wrote ran third in the Royal Lodge on his previous start; Donativum won the Tattersalls Million on his previous start. Connection? All three were at Newmarket. Pounced, the other Euro winner, ran an excellent second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. Moreover, Sleep Well, second in that first Monmouth Juvenile Turf, also ran second in the Royal Lodge.

Look to a recent Group-placed effort from a Euro prior to this.

The Royal Lodge and Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere are two of the six Win And You're In (WAYI) races, and they've been responible for two winners and a second.

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Key Prep Races for the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf

As mentioned, the Jean-Luc Lagardere and the Royal Lodge are the two key Euro prep races. But note that no winner of that pair of qualifiers has won the Juvenile Turf. Rather, placed horses have bagged the spoils twice, and silvered once.

A third European BC Juvenile Turf trial is held at Leopardstown. The impressive Australia reserved his spot in California, but is unlikely to take up that reservation, instead having an eye to two British Classics early next summer.

There are three more WAYI races Stateside, and they are the Pilgrim Stakes, the Bourbon Stakes, and the Summer Stakes, won this year by Bobby's Kitten, Poker Player, and My Conquestadory. The last named followed up in the Alcibiades, itself a strong trial for the BC Juvenile run on dirt (though the Alcibiades is a polytrack race).

Nownownow, winner of the 2007 Juvenile Turf, had run second in the Bourbon Stakes on his prior start; and 2010 winner, Pluck, strolled home in the Summer Stakes en route to Juvie Turf glory.

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Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Trends

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Trends

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Trends

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Trends

The third new race in a row to be run on Friday's Breeders Cup card is the Dirt Mile, or 'Dirty Mile' as it's become known. As the name suggests, it's a main track race over a mile, and it was first run in 2007 on the Monmouth Park slop. That gives us six renewals to review for a profile.

As with many of the dirt races, this is almost completely a domestic affair with just Aidan O'Brien's Mastercraftsman and Charles O'Brien's Lord Admiral attempting to steal the pot. The former finished fourth as the 13/8 favourite. There has been a quartet of Saeed bin Suroor-trained runners over the years, but they've all been exclusively raced outside of Europe, and housed in a satellite barn in America, so hardly count as European contenders.

This is a race that has paid out some tasty dividends to date, with Furthest Land scoring at $44.60 (to a $2 stake), Dakota Phone hitting the wire at $77.40, and Tapizar paying $32.60 last year. The average payout over the six years is a little over 15/1, so don't be afraid to go with a 'rag' in this one.

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The first five winners of the BC Dirt Mile were all going back in distance from a last time out start at beyond a mile. That looked significant until Tapizar blitzed them from the front last year. But the 'turn back' tactic still looks of interest, so look for a horse that ran beyond a mile last time.

All six winners had five or more races that season, and match fitness seems important too. Most runners will pass this test, but some generally will not, and they shouldn't be excused.

Four of the six winners were aged four, and the other two were a year older and a year younger respectively. It seems smart to favour three- to five-year-olds over their elders.

All six winners had previously run in a Grade 1 at a mile or further. In this sub-championship event, that is again a discriminatory factor and there will be some that cannot boast an attempt at top class.

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Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Key Prep Races

There are three 'Win And You're In' (WAYI) races for the Dirt Mile: the Triple Bend, run over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park; the Pat O'Brien Stakes, also run over seven at Del Mar; and, the Kelso Handicap, run over a mile at Belmont Park.

This year's winners were Centralinteligence, Fed Biz, and Graydar respectively.

Last year, Tapizar exited the Kelso, but off a poor effort when a tailed off sixth. None of the previous five winners had figures in any of those WAYI contests.

However, two had placed third in the Grade 1 Awesome Again (formerly Goodwood) Stakes on their prior start, and that race is definitely worth a second glance, despite the main placed horses generally heading for the Breeders Cup Classic itself.

Paynter, Soi Phet, and Golden Ticket were second, third and fourth behind runaway winner, Mucho Macho Man, and it might be Golden Ticket that is best suited to a slightly shorter trip than this nine furlong affair. He was the one well placed but running out of gas in the final 220 yards.

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Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Trends

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Trends

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Trends

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Trends

Another newish race, with five previous runnings to consider. If ever a race at the Breeders Cup looked like a European benefit, this one mile turf race for juvenile fillies is it. Strange then that it took until the fifth iteration for Europe to record a win, and perhaps even stranger that the  British and Irish axis is still awaiting its turn in the victors' circle.

It's not for want of trying. In 2008, two Irish fillies boarded a plane and one of them, the 14/1 shot Heart Shaped (trained by Aidan O'Brien), just failed by a nose to get up. The following year, there were again two Euros, one more O'Brien horse and a German challenger. Despite the Irish filly being 6/4 favourite, she could do no better than eighth with the Deutsche, Junia Tepzia, trailing home last of the twelve.

Over the Churchill we went in 2010, and for this third renewal there were four Euro raiders. The best finish was from AOB's Together, in a disappointing fifth. Messrs Hannon, Gosden and Meehan were out with the washing.

Three years in, and eight runners in, and Europe had yet to register. Worse, their last two sets of entries didn't even trouble the superfecta judge.

To 2011, and a triple whammy attack on the race from Europe, with one each from Ireland, UK and France. Elusive Kate was the UK representative but she left her race in Paris, and it was AOB's Up which enjoyed the best finish of the three, in fourth place. At least that pesky superfecta judge had to call some 'away team' in his 1-2-3-4.

2012 saw two things happen: one, the Breeders Cup roadshow returned to Santa Anita; and, two, a new rule banned the use of Lasix in the juvenile races. That latter rule, which remains in place for 2013 but will then be rescinded, seems to favour the Euros who never use raceday medication.

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With hindsight then, it probably offered the best chance of a European winner, and so it proved as the east side of the pond registered its maiden win, courtesy of Mikael Delzangles' French filly, Flotilla. She was far from the most fancied of the Euro quintet, however.

Indeed, Sky Lantern, subsequently to prove herself top class, was sent off 5/2 favourite before disappointing under a misjudged inside ride.

One of the key challenges to a European win does seem to be lack of track craft from the foreign jockeys, who simply don't know how to ride the tight inner oval. If you have a very good horse - as in the case of Sky Lantern - the key is to go wide, and use the camber to slingshot into the stretch. Guaranteed a run out wide, no momentum is lost, and tiring foes ahead come back to their field. Hopefully this year we'll see less hard luck stories.

If you're not sure what I mean, watch this rerun of last year's race, and then replay the home stretch. You just have to come wide into the straight if you're coming from off the pace.

Key Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Trends

With just five years data to look at, these trends are not definitive, but there are some interesting angles. Firstly, no matter how much we feel that Europe should be doing better, and irrespective of last year's fillip, the fact is that from seventeen attempts so far, Europe has just one winner to America's four.

Moreover, that winner was not the strongest fancy in the raiding party. This is a race in which hard luck stories abound, with a big field of inexperienced horses hurtling around tight turns and down a short run-in. The average payoff is just over 10/1, so try not to get drawn into a European sucker bet. Even if a short-priced Euro does win in 2013, it's not a value play according to the brief history available.

Although only two horses had won their previous start going into this, four of the five winners had either won the last day or been within two lengths of the winner.

All four US winners had won over at least a mile on turf.

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Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Key Prep Races

There are five 'Win And You're In' (WAYI) races for this contest, two in Europe and three in North America. Lucky Kristale won the Lowther Stakes, but won't be risked on the fast Santa Anita course; Rizeena won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, and has since run second in the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket.

Across the pond, Llanarmon won the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, perhaps the key prep for the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. She gets an automatic pass as a consequence, but she wasn't far ahead of Spanish Flower, Appreciating and Madly Truly, all of which were within a length of the winner.

In the Ms Grillo Stakes, Testa Rossi just nosed out Sky Painter for the WAYI berth, but again there's nothing between them on this evidence. And finally, in the Jessamine Stakes, Kitten Kaboodle rolled away from favourite, Zinzay, and the rest, winning by almost five lengths.

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Breeders Cup Marathon Trends

Breeders Cup Marathon Trends

Breeders Cup Marathon Trends

Breeders Cup Marathon Trends

The Breeders Cup Marathon is one of the new races added when the Breeders Cup moved to a two day event. It is unusual inasmuch as it doesn't really suit any of the entries! Specifically, very few US races are run over such an extreme distance as a mile and three quarters; and no European races are run on dirt surfaces.

So the domestics have an advantage with the surface, and the imports have the legs. But which horses are best suited overall?

There have been five renews of the BC Marathon so far, three of them at Santa Anita and two at Churchill Downs. But the race conditions have changed, and changed again, making trends analysis tricky.

In 2008, the inaugural Marathon was run over a mile and a half on Pro-Ride, a synthetic surface which was akin to the polytrack known well to European horses. No shock then, that Muhannak, a winner at Kempton and Dundalk, brought home the bacon.

A year later, it was still Santa Anita and still Pro-Ride, but this time the race was run over a mile and three-quarters, arguably even further favouring the Euro raiders. This time it was Man Of Iron's turn to claim the prize for Aidan O'Brien. It may be noteworthy that neither of these Euro winners was the first choice of the away team.

In 2010, the Breeders Cup roadshow moved to Churchill Downs, and to proper fast dirt. Just two Euros shipped this time, Precision Break and Bright Horizon, and they could fare no better than seventh behind Eldaafer, a first home winner.

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Churchill was again the venue in 2011, and it was again the home team which prevailed: Afleet Again to be precise. This time a trio of Euros made the flight, including a first French foray, but they filled three of the last four places. Indeed, the only thing preventing a 'reverse clean sweep' was the sad breaking down of favourite, AU Miner.

After two bad reversals for Europe, it was hoped that a return to the warmth of Santa Anita last year would revitalize their prospects. Alas, no. With the Pro-Ride now a distant memory, replaced by the same kind of fast dirt that had demolished foreign hopes in Louisville, the two Irish entries - the only two from Europe - both pulled up.

But there was a new twist to the Marathon story as it was Calidoscopio, an Argentinian runner with proven dirt and distance form, that bagged the spoils in most unlikely fashion. It's a race well worth a watch, as the winner was almost tailed off with a circuit to run.

The key points to note in that race were, firstly, that the Irish runners hated the ground, and it will be interesting to see which - if any - European horses make the trip this time. And second, horses unused to this sort of distance went off too fast and were caught by a one-paced dirt stayer in the shape of Calidoscopio.

So, if we can find a horse with dirt and distance form, we have almost all of the required elements for a Breeders Cup Marathon winner.

Other Breeders Cup Marathon factors to note

Although Man Of Iron won this in 2009 as a three-year-old, the older horses have the edge overall with two 4yos, a 5yo, and the veteran Calidoscopio doing the business aged nine last year.

Three of the five Marathon winners have been non-US horses: two from Europe and one from Argentina, and it does look a race in which the American horses are ripe to be taken on, despite the European dislike of a fast dirt surface.

Four of the five Marathon winners won last time out, and the other was a running on second, beaten less than a length, so favour a strong last race.

Three of the five winners had a mile and a half-plus victory to their names already, and one other had won over half a furlong shorter than that. Look for stamina at least for a mile and a half.

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Key Prep Races for Breeders Cup Marathon

It's difficult to say which races might be key preparatory events for the Marathon, though there is one 'Win and You're In' (WAYI) race, the Clasico Belgrano in Argentina, won by Ever Rider. The short-priced favourite there, Soy Carambolo, disappointed but would be a player if he was entered in the Marathon.

A win at Dundalk, and a run in the Diamond Stakes there, featured in both the European Pro-Ride winners' profiles. But the world has turned since then, and the poly-to-dirt angle that this would now represent is less likely to pay a dividend. Jim Bolger's Parish Hall won it this year, with the Ballydoyle favourite, Afonso de Sousa, in third.

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