The two-day Breeders Cup meeting takes place at the glorious Santa Anita racecourse in suburban Los Angeles. Had the pleasure of visiting Santa Anita for another race meeting last year, it is absolutely stunning when the sun is out with the mountains in the background. And this weekend, it's the best of US racing with a few international raiders trying to steal some of the big prizemoney on offer.
Stepping up to preview the Turf and the Classic is regular US racing contributor, Jon da Silva, @creamontop, with his inimitable style.
Breeders Cup Turf
US$4,000,000 1 1/2m, Grade 1
Saturday 1522 PDT, 2322 GMT, Sunday 1022 AEDST
With the front two from the world's best [rated] flat race*, the Arc, this should be an O'Brien benefit?
* According to Timeform, based over last five years.
Found - or as I used to say, Found Wanting Whenever Speed Is Required. She is clearly faster than I credit. Her easy Arc win in 2.23&change and following up with a second at Ascot. I still feel unless we get unusual ground like Keeneland she is vulnerable to a degree unless it's an end-to-end gallop - she may outclass them but has been beaten enough not to be odds-on. Her seconds are mostly to horses I'd back 2s-on here but they are bar the yielding ground of Leopardstown not close and her Yorkshire Oaks defeat was not to a fast horse. Sure she has beaten the rest of the poor crop of 3 and 4 year olds being rustled off to stud before we notice but three genuine G1s all murdered her late (Almanzor, Fascinating Rock and Postponed). Her winning form in last year's race is a length win over Big Blue Kitten and a bit more back to The Pizza Man should not be good enough and the course will likely be a road - and a cause for tedious Euro whining. This is the best horse in the race clearly but not one with a wins to runs record that makes 2/1 appeal. Counter arguments it's her time of year and big fields drag the best out of her and these Galileos love it fast.
Highland Reel - second in the Arc and winner of the King George. Euro form that would normally make him a fav here but for stablemate Found and Flintshire. Beat Flintshire in last year's Hong Kong Vase to boot. Good second in the Juddmonte too. Strong case to be second best in this race. Possibly more tactically pliable than Found but won't have Moore and slight chance may be used to set race up for Found?
Flintshire - has taken well to US racing losing once on a wet track to unchallenged front runner Ectot and in this race two years ago to late flier Main Sequence. Thrice Arc runner up. Second in Hong Kong Vase to Highland Reel having won it in 14. Flintshire has surprised me in the States as he seems well suited to a last two furlong burst. His last loss on wet ground is forgivable given Fabre spent his whole career till five avoiding any juice and maybe connections ducked Keeneland because of that last year. Whacked in a 22 and 4/5ths last 2 in the Sword Dancer. A bit like Found before the Arc, the top level seconds could put you off but has a case given conditions and no out-and-out pace here to be jt fav.
Anyway that's the big 3 and they are at best prices with a half decent bookie 1/5 - ~83% of the book. All are horses who are seemingly beatable. They could run 1,2 & 3 but what else is there?
Next in UK markets is Ulysses who appears Group 3 at best. Gets Frankie but not the precious juice [Lasix] which does not give me a reason to even suggest a Black Swan. Suggestions of 12/1 leave me baffled. Will be a big surprise if he steps up and not sure even the great Stoute any longer warrants such respect.
Ectot - probably the most talented horse I have ever seen for the first 7/8ths of a race. Effortless turn of foot in the Prix Niel only to seemingly finish on fumes to be a busted flush after in Europe. Two horrible defeats even on the juice in the States and then bang he puts 5L into Flintshire and Money Multiplier. You can explain this by the ground but no evidence from his European form he cares what ground. Chance of an easy lead here too unless Ashleyluvssugar or Highland Reel grabs him. Some doubts but finished off last race better than ever and dangerous to assume it was an off track. A wild card.
Ashleyluvssugar - not forlorn and some suggestion could lead if Ectot reverts to hold up tactics and Highland is not sent. Won a couple of grade 2s on way in here but now faces some of the top horses in the world here. No evidence of massive improvement just a 11 record. He has beaten the three rank outsiders here.
Da Big Hoss - a US horse for whom the distance is no problem and a prolific winner but beating some Willie Mullins plodder in the American St Leger nothing like he faces here with top Euros and ex-Euros. Sixth last year and no obvious reason to suggest something different will happen.
Money Multiplier - lives up to the name is a wild UK price ignoring wet tracks been on an upward curve and locally only Flintshire definitively superior.
Mondialiste - has won two group 1s in North America including the Arlington Million, Was second to my long term pick Time Test who is not running over 10.5f at York. If this race is slow run expect last year's runner up in the mile to be there. 12F on juice in USA might easily be within this one's comfort zone and a big price for a horse who handles US turf and the tracks and is superior to Ulysses..
Twilight Eclipse - has run and been beaten by many of these this year and needed to drop back into allowance company for a win. Not impossible for a place but needs to be his best ever and that may not be good enough here.
Metaboss has a slightly worse chance than Ashleyluvssugar who's beaten him last twice and that is almost certainly short here. Texas Ryano see Metaboss. Ralis see Texas Ryano. Metaboss is a NR to boot!
Of the big three I'd probably like Highland Reel at slightly longer price and he could be bigger PMU. However as said the three take out so much of the book in a race that does not always go to plan. Facing them are Grade 1 horses in Mondialiste and arguably Ectot. The former is 25s and the latter 16s. That seems like some nice dutching action for me albeit I prefer Mondialiste who has won a full field US Grade 1 turf race, two in fact.
Best Fav: Highland Reel at 7/2 or PMU
Best Value: Mondialiste
Best Crazy: Ectot
Best might grab a place longy: Money Multiplier
Galileo Super': Mondialiste Found Highland Reel Ulysses
Horses I formerly called slow Ex: Flintshire Found
Pace Get Loose At Price: Ashleyluvssugar
Best Horse: Found