Good Afternoon! Ready for a brilliant’ night of racing? Me too! Hopefully, we can do half as well as we did yesterday. A shame that a couple of our jumpers didn’t run their races.
The week’s rain and the drainage turned the ground soft yesterday, although it didn’t appear to affect any results with the best horses winning their races. Two of the winners were all the way leaders, although Bulletin won the juvenile turf sprint at the gate and Newspaperofrecord was simply brilliant (and a short-priced favourite). The dirt course appeared to play reasonably fair although the pace on the front end was not unreasonable and closers were not suited. Watch out for in running news through the races – the first half mile can be crucial. Any questions? @KeejayOV2.
4.00 – Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Grade 1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (Main Track) (Dirt) (3yo+): The market has this between Marley’s Freedom and Selcourt. Marley’s Freedom has been widely impressive since moving to the barn of Bob Baffert, posting triple figure Beyer Speed figures on her last two starts, first when giving 6lbs and a beating to Skye Diamonds before then winning the Ballerina in a hack canter. She ought to take a great deal of beating and doesn’t need to lead from 13.
Selcourt hasn’t been seen since beating Marley’s Freedom in March, when the favourite was trained by Robert B Hess. That was in the Santa Monica Stakes and it was a devastatingly impressive performance, although it’s fair to say Marley’s Freedom has improved since and John Sadler is 0-41 in Breeders’ Cup races so far. However, Selcourt has been improving in workouts over the past month.
Finley’sluckycharm folded when chasing the fast pace at Saratoga and had also faded late when suffering her first defeat in seven tries here back in May. In between, she’d been an impressive winner of the Honourable Miss Handicap at Saratoga and on that form she will take the beating, although she was well beaten in this last year. However, a return to Churchill could be for
The rest of the field appears to be much of a muchness but it’s interesting to note that the Thoroughbred Club Of America Stakes has produced five out of the eight winners of this contest and this year’s winner Golden Mischief just got the better of Chalon there with a gutsy late stretch run (Miss Sunset and Happy Like A Fool behind). The bunched field wouldn’t convince many that it was strong form but she has been much improved since moving to a new stable (that of Brad Cox) and could still be improving.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Golden Mischief (16/1 general)
4.38 – 5½f (5f110y) Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+): Not a race for huge stakes and the surface will be a complication here for many but not World Of Trouble, who destroyed the opposition in the Allied Forces Stakes, his second sprint win after taking the Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga, looks to be an obvious choice and big player. He handled yielding ground perfectly fine at Saratoga when giving 6lbs to Fig Jelly there.
Given the unique nature of this race, previous editions can be strong form even if they have been run at a variety of courses. Stormy Liberal took this last year from stablemate Richard’s Boy, with Disco Partner third and Bucchero fourth. The first two, both stablemates of Richard Miller, would want the track to be much faster. That cannot be said of Disco Partner, who has creditable runs to his name on soft ground including when third in the Troy Handicap, giving 7lbs to the winner and runner up. Bucherro was fourth then but ahead of Disco Partner when they met in April, finding only Bound For Nowhere too good in the Shakertown Stakes back in April.
He has since finished fifth in the King’s Stand takes and after needing his return, and then took the Woodford Stakes when getting the better of Will Call. He’s 2lbs worse off here but has the better draw and also the better soft ground form, meaning he’s picked to confirm the form.
A strong European challenge came last year and didn’t really make much of an impact, although Churchill Downs ought to suit them more. Havana Grey deserves respect on his best form this season, which has come at the Curragh, first taking the Sapphire and then the Flying Five. Bar a good run in the Nunthorpe however, he’s not matched that and it remains to be seen if he can keep prace with the home team.
That is perhaps a question mark over Lost Treasure too but Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old has shown an almost ridiculous amount of talent in a remarkably progressive season. He might well have won the Abbaye had he gotten a run and yielding ground didn’t seem to stop him when he was unlucky not to take the Waterford Testimonial Stakes at Navan and it was much the same story when he was third in the Mercury Stakes. A test like this could bring the best out of him and he’s interesting enough to chance.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Bucchero (16/1 Coral), 1 pt each/way Lost Treasure (12/1 general)
5.16 – 1m Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Main Track) (Dirt) (3yo+): If Catalina Cruiser can repeat his brilliant performance in the Pat O’Brien Stakes – when he smashed last year’s winner Battle Of Midway – then he will of course take a world of beating, but this isn’t a weak race on any reflection and he is also going to be facing a much bigger field with much more pace than he has so far.
City Of Light took the Malibu (December 2017) and Triple Bend Stakes (March), completing a Graded hat-trick In the Oaklawn Stakes when getting the better of Accelerate, favourite for the Classic. His third in the Gold Cup was a slightly below par effort and he was beaten again in the Forego Stakes when he covered nearly double the ground of the winner that day. He’s drawn on the rail, so shouldn’t suffer that fate if he breaks well, and he can put it upto the favourite.
Firenze Fire hasn’t been out of the first three since a mid-field finish in the Kentucky Derby, trashing Seven Trumpets by nine lengths in the Dwyer Stakes (Classic contender Mendlessohn third) and then finishing third in the Jerkens Stakes behind Sprint contender Promises Fulfilled before he won the Gallant Bob Stakes. A one turn mile suits him well and he’s each/way value here.
Seeking The Soul took the 1m1f Clark Stakes here last November before finishing fifth in the Pegasus and has massive run potential on his day, although that comes with the disclaimer that he must be on form. Giant Expectations and Trigger Warning look like big prices.
Advice: 1 pt win City Of Light (4/1 Sportingbet, 7/2 general), 1 pt each/way Firenze Fire (8/1 Paddy Power, Hills)
6.04 – 1m3f Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (Turf) (3yo+): Charlie Appleby’s record at the Breeders’ Cup is now a remarkable 3-4 and he has strong claims of retaining the Filly and Mare Turf with Wild Illusion, the winner of the Prix L’Opera at Paris-Longchamp when gamely fighting off Magic Wand. The runner up reopposes here but the ground favours Wild Illusion much more and this is evidently been on connections’ minds for some time given that she made her first start of the Autumn in the Opera, meaning she should hopefully be fresh enough for this. Second in the Oaks on soft, and a winner of the Marcel Boussac last year, she has a fine chance.
The stall 14 post is a nightmare for Frankie Dettori and Ezyira but apart from that there’s nothing not to like. Her third in the Yorkshire Oaks is really strong form and it bodes well that she is a previous 7-furlong winner in Ireland who was third in the Yorskhire Oaks this year. Soft ground is no issue to her and neither is tactical speed for a horse who took the Blandford over 10 furlongs, and as a proper stayer too, she can go forward with the inside rail proving to be unpopular so far.
The big home threat is Sistercharlie, who has beaten stablemate Fourstar Crook in the Diana and Beverley D Stakes, but the ground is an issue for her. It’s not for Fourstar Crook, although the extended trip could be. Stablemate Thais was a front running third behind the aforementioned two at Arlington and might find going further hard although she won’t mind the ground. A Raving Beauty won the First Lady last time and has been progressive since joining the Brown yard/barn but it remains to be seen if she copes with the extended distance. Santa Monica will stay, although her will need to improve on her EP Taylor third.
Athena won the Belmont Oaks over 10 furlongs back in July but has disappointed since and this ground is likely to slow her down.
Advice: 2 pts win Wild Illusion (2/1 general), 1 pt each/way Ezyira (8/1 Boylesports)
6.48 – 6f Twinspires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Main Track) (Dirt) (3yo+):
Roy H and Imperial Hint went tooth and nail last year at Del Mar and understandably dominate the market once again, with Imperial Hint just fancied to turn around the form on the East Coast. Since then he was won three Graded wins, with his barely believable performance in the Vanderbilt one of the highlights of the season. He wasn’t extended to take the Vosbrugh at Belmont and has previously held off Whitmore off rapid sectionals.
He looks better than he did last year, which contributes for the argument of him turning the form around with Roy H, who won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship when easily beating stablemate Distinctive B, who promises to add plenty to the pace today.
So, does Promises Fulfilled, a game winner of the Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga before then landing Keenland’s Phenoix Stakes. That was a naibiting finish when Limousine Liberal, a six-time winner here including back on Derby Day, was third but blocked twice for a run in the last furlong, finishing on the bridle beaten half a length. He should – and may well have – won that day with a clear run and will surely get the pace (just like Whitmore) that he needs to chase down late. He shades the verdict for the second spot.
Advice: 1 pt win Imperial Hint (15/8 general), 1 pt each/way Limousine Liberal (9/1 Bet365, Paddy Power)
7.36 – 1m Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+): Really competitive fare here with at least six plausible winners here. Aidan O’Brien has found this race frustrating, but he might have the answer with two three-year-old fillies. I Can Fly has been steadily improving in the latter part of the season and went down by just a neck to Roaring Lion in the QEII at Ascot on soft ground when last seen. She has plenty of form with cut in the ground and her latest performance is arguably some of the best form here. Not lacking in tactical speed and with a fairly decent draw if she breaks, she appeals as a fair each/way bet.
Happily put in her best performance of the year when a neck second to Laurens at Newmarket in the Sun Chariot. She was ahead of I Can Fly there and it’s interesting to note that was her second run back after a 70 day break during which the stable had a terrible virus. She was well beaten as favourite in California last year, but Churchill Downs promises to suit her more and so does a soft surface given that she’s a winner on soft and also near heavy ground.
Oscar Performance put in a fine showing to take the Woodbine Mile last time when dominant from the front, but that came on a lighting fast surface against far imperior opposition and it will be much harder to do here.
Expert Eye has had a strong season which could have been a whole lot better if he’d amanged to get a clear run in the Moulin at Longhamp and he has the tactical speed needed for America, although the ground turning against him could scupper his chances here. Gustav Kilmt will handle the ground just fine and didn’t get the best run in the Foret behind One Master last time, although stall 13 means that he will have to run that risk once again. He has strong claims if managing to get a good posse.
One Master got a brilliant ride to win the Foret at Longhamp when everything else seemed to find no run, but on the unfavoured inside that could be reversed
Lightning Spear finally managed a top level win on his 16th try when taking the Sussex but hasn’t repeated that form since whilst Clemmie has been a disappointment this year. Musthary is a really progressive colt who can continue to do better, but he would be much better on faster ground.
Analyse It has not had things drop quite right for him this year, being twice caught in final strides by Classic hopeful Catholic Boy over further, and then being forced wide at Keenland in the Turf Mile. However, stall 12 makes that a distinct possibility again and whilst the middle of the track is favoured Jose Ortiz will have a tough task on his hands. Catapult and Alamnaar need to improve on the bare form and might want it faster.
Advice: 1 pt each/way I Can Fly (15/2 Paddy Power, Bet Victor), 1 pt each/way Happily (7/1 general)
8.16 – 1m1f Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Grade 1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (Main Track) (Dirt) (3yo+): A deep renewal here with the market dominated by the last two Kentucky Oaks winners. Abel Tasman might well be favourite had she not flopped in the Zenyatta Stakes but a bug in the barn could explain that performance and before she’d twice posted three figure Beyer ratings in first winning the Ogden Phipps by nearly eight lengths and then when getting the better of the top class Elate in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Had she not flopped there, or missed the race, she’d likely be favourite.
Monomoy Girl was disqualified in the Parx Cotillion Stakes – and rightly so – after drifting into Midnight Bisou’s racing line up the home straight. However, on her first start for 62 days she pressed into the lead well over two furlongs out and was tiring late. A more restrained ride would likely have seen her win and whilst there’s pace on upfront she can ‘reverse’ the form.
Vale Dori took advantage of Abel Tasman when taking out in the Zenyatta Stakes at a price, and she has to be respected although she’d been disappointing in each start before. La Force came late to take second and will have a chance if doing so again if she gets a full pace meltdown. Watch out for her in running. Wow Cat won the Beldame Stakes in impressive style but had previously been smashed 10 lengths by Abel Tasman in the Personal Ensign.
Wonder Gadot was third in the Cotillion – and by 10 lengths – suggesting that Monomoy Girl had Midnight Bisou have improved more than her since the Oaks back here in the spring. Blue Prize took the Spinster at Keenland when beating Champagne Problems in a game finish. Blue Prize has won twice here this year and is clearly thriving, although Champagne Problems didn’t get a run until late.
Advice: 2 pts win Abel Tasman (11/4 Paddy Power)
8.56 – 1m4f Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+): No Arc winner has taken this in the same year but Enable is not most Arc winners and her unconventional season – just two starts, both a month apart, starting in September – gives her a great chance, whilst she also handles soft ground perfectly.
Beating her will be difficult but this is an each/way race with three places up for grabs and the challengers could be obvious in the shape of Waldegist and Magical. Waldgeist has been remarkably improved this year, with four impressive Group wins in France including the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud, and he was brilliant when cantering all over Talismanic, last year’s winner who also reappears here. He’s got no issue with the ground and Andre Fabre knows this race inside out.
Magical tried 12 furlongs for the first time and didn’t really get into the Arc when caught wide, but at in the Fillies & Mares at Ascot on Champions Day she was much better when holding off Coronet and Lah Ti Dar with Vermille winner Kitesurf back in fourth and that took place on soft ground to boot. She is taking a similar route to Found, who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf via a similar route.
Talismanic won this last year before finishing runner up in the Hong Kong Vase and whilst he was disappointing in the Arc, improvement from there could be possible and he’s had a light season in comparison to most. The each/way market without Enable could be interesting. Hunting Horn hasn’t made it at the top level despite plenty of strong efforts.
Robert Bruce got bogged down in soft ground when trying to chase down Channel Maker in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, with Sadler’s Joy (fourth last year) 10 lengths back. That is the strongest American form here but they all look overmatched as a group and Sadler’s Joy, Arklow, Hi Happy, Liam The Charmer, and Quarteto De Cordas look.
Advice: 1.5 pts each/way Waldgiest (7/1 BetVictor, 13/2 Bet365), 1 pt each/way Magical (6/1 general)
9.44 – 1m2f Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Main Track) (Dirt) (3yo+): One of the highlights of the racing year with a million different angles to be considered and realistic challengers from both sides of the Atlantic. West Coast hasn’t won since romping home in the Pennsylvania Derby last September but in the shape of his third in last year’s Classic at Del Mar and second in the Pegasus to Gun Runner he has some of the best form, and his lead up to the Classic has been very eyecatching indeed. He was second in the Dubai World Cup to Thunder Snow, and then after a long break, was second to Accerlate in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
That was his first run since March, when he broke well, was fresh and forced sectionals of 22.89, 46.17 and then 1.10.35 for the ¼, ½ and ¾ mile, eventually fading late but battling on hard for a fine second. He will be close to his peak today, has had a light season, can hold back off that pace and has very strong claims of taking the title. Accerlate is also respected.
McKinzie, the choice of Mike Smith, has taken a similar route with Bob Baffert’s oter charge skipping the summer before taking the Pennsylvania Derby, jinking left and right whilst flashing his table before his class put the field away. He’s not done improving yet although that will have to be the case given the marked step up here that he takes but he’s right at the top of many shortlists.
However, the strongest three-year-old form could well be thanks to Catholic Boy, who comes here off back to back Grade 1 winners this summer, the first on turf at Belmont and the latest when destroying the field in the Travers at Saratoga. He sat just off Mendlessohn that day and when the two kicked on in the straight nothing else could answer a sensational turn of foot.
It’s likely the runner up has improved since but he beat him by four lengths and was always going the better of the pair; A repeat will make him very hard to pass.
Winning this on dirt is just as much of a European obsession as ever and the challenge this time is headed by two horses who have been properly prepared for the race. UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn will pray for a good break and a dry day but if getting those should run much better than he did when he had a nightmare trip in the Kentucky Derby.
Since then he has had three runs here, the first when third in the Dwyer Stakes, the second when behind Catholic Boy in the Travers and the third when caught late on by Discreet Lover and Thunder Snow in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. That was a race he may well have won had he not been involved in a pace duel with Diversify, but in going so close he proved he could handle fractions of 22.72, 45.64 and 1.09.13 whilst still running late.
Thunder Snow looked sure to pick up the pieces but was caught by Discreet Lover, who won soliely by being the last to challenge; Mendelssohn and Thunder Snow are closely matched, with the latter perhaps preferred given the likely pace profile here.
They both have realistic chances, whilst Roaring Lion is out of Kitten’s Joy, who was unplaced on the dirt twice before becoming a turf horse. The four-time Group 1 winner is a fine horse who’s had a fine career but is likely to be caked in kickback from stall 2 and this is a complete afterthought for him. 8/11 on Mendlessohn, a confirmed dirt performer, beating him looks to be a fine match bet.
Mind Your Biscuits has won and been third in the last two runnings of the Breeders’ Cup sprint but he’s multi-talented and has stretched to 1m1f, as he showed when winning the Lukas Classic. However, he was well beaten in the Whitney Stakes the time before and he might be a better sprinter.
Yoshida, the winner of the Turf Classic who was fifth in the Queen Anne, won the Woodward Stakes when beating Gunnervera and doing so convincingly, giving 4lbs. He might not be done improving and is a realistic each/way chance. Pavel (then no match for Accelerate at Del Mar), McKinzie (2nd to McKinzie in 1m1f Grade 1 Penn Derby) and Lone Sailor (well beaten in all three Grade 1 starts) are overmatched.
Advice: 1 pt West Coast (7/1 general), 1 pt each/way Catholic Boy (13/2 general) & 6 pts Mendlessohn to beat Roaring Lion (8/11 general)