Preparation for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita is gathering pace, with the meeting billed as the ‘World Championships’ little more than a week away.
In recent days Henry Candy has confirmed that his outstanding sprinter Limato, is set to take on the mighty American mare Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The four-year-old may well have headed for the sprint, but after weighing up the options, the Wantage handler decided the longer trip would suit. Speaking to At The Races earlier in the week Candy confirmed: “I had reservations about the sprint track. If he had one of his rather lazy moments in the stalls, it would have been game over.”
Limato’s strong performance over seven furlongs at Chantilly last time, gives hope that he will cope with the mile at Santa Anita. Goldikova completed the Prix de la Foret-Breeders’ Cup Mile double back in 2010, and should the ground remain quick at the Los Angeles track, Candy’s stable star will surely have a huge chance of repeating the feat.
Tepin ran away with the race at Keeneland 12 months ago, and had looked formidable throughout this campaign until a shock defeat to Photo Call back at the Kentucky track a couple of weeks ago. The winner is certainly no mug, and led from the off, managing to slip the field before bravely holding on for a two-length victory. Tepin will look to bounce back on November 5, with connections unfazed by the blip.
Dutch Connection and Alice Springs will also look to land a major challenge for the spoils. The former will be Charlie Hills’ only runner at the meeting, with the quicker ground sure to suit. Like Limato, Dutch Connection is probably at his best over slightly shorter, but Hills appears hopeful, and was successful at Santa Anita in 2013 when winning the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Chriselliam.
Alice Springs will be part of a battalion sent across the Atlantic by Aidan O’Brien. Her improvement throughout the campaign has been startling, and her trainer knows she will cope with the trip, having finished runner-up in the Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland last year. She’ll be looking to emulate Miesque, Ridgewood Pearl, Six Perfections and Goldikova, in winning the event as a three-year-old filly. Her trainer is confident that the track and ground conditions will suit. If he’s right, she’s sure to go close.
Ballydoyle will have Highland Reel in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, won last year by Found. The gutsy colt was runner-up in the Arc, and tasted success in America last year, when winning the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. He again showed his liking for a trip abroad, when taking the Hong Kong Vase last December, and with O’Brien stating that ‘all has gone well since Chantilly’, he looks to have a great chance of following up on Found’s victory.
As for the Arc heroine, O’Brien surprised many by announcing that she would likely head for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the dirt. Yet to run on the surface, she has proven wonderfully consistent at the highest level, and it would come as no surprise to see her go close again. She has California Chrome to contend with, but her current odds of 16/1 look incredibly generous to me.
The build-up is well underway, and Geegeez followers can rest assured that all angles will be covered as the glamorous meeting draws near.