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Breeders Cup Mile preview

The British and Irish contingent are coming for this one, the turf mile. The draw certainly make it interesting. Stepping up again is shrewd US form student Nathan Cripps, @hoodooguru81.

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Breeders Cup Mile 
G1, US $2,000,000, 1 Mile (2 x turns)
2219 GMT, 0919 AEST

1) Midnight Storm (ML 15/1) - 6yo Philip D'Amato horse capable on dirt & turf and a member of the US $1 mil club. Finished third in this race last year behind Tourist and was gallant in defeat after working across early. Has two seconds this year in G1s (1800m & 2000m) to add to his already fantastic race record and can utilise his top draw to secure a nice front end spot on the rail (he may even set the speed!) However, videos and Beyer ratings do tell us he's a couple of lengths off his 2017 form and for that reason he's a no for me. 

2) Heart to Heart (ML 6/1) - Another 6yo horse in the prestigious million dollar club. Recently has chalked up six consecutive performances rated 100+ in the Beyer Ratings. It's hard to knock him on that! He led them up in the G1 Shadwell MIle to be swamped late only by Suedois. Another speed horse who will duel with the #1 horse in the opening exchanges. Will be interesting to see what eventuates in the first two furlongs as there are many horses in this race who give their best from the front. His ML price is a little underwhelming and there is 20/1 about him available which is reasonable. I'd be willing to consider this guy as a place chance but there seems to be an incredible amount of speed in this contest and a horse with this guy's racing pattern worries me. I'm going to reluctantly leave him out.

3) Mr. Roary (ML 30/1) - Pulled off a 20/1 Group 3 shocker at his latest offering coming from well back off the pace (Om third) The pace is sure to suit this horse today as he tackles his first G1 race but he looks mightily outclassed here and likely to start triple digits in the betting.

4) Lancaster Bomber (ML 20/1) - Aidan O'Brien trained 3yo who was beaten out of sight last time out in the QE Stakes (SP 50/1; soft going; Ribchester 2nd) The start before he ran an eye catching second to World Approval in the Woodbine Mile G1 in Canada, where he made late ground from well off the pace. He did also run 2nd in the BC Juvenile last year behind Oscar Performance. He's been placed at G1 level before In Europe and will appreciate the firm ground at Del Mar. Only sports the one win from 14 goes, but he has raced in quality G1 & G2 races. He seems awfully short at 10/1 - 12/1 from the bookies and it's difficult to build a solid case for that being a good bet. I'll let him beat me.

5) World Approval (ML 9/2) - This flashy grey US 5yo in the capable hands of Mark Casse is racing in the finest form of his 23 start career (US $1.8 mil) He has already amassed 10 wins on his CV and four of them have been this year, and despite being adept at longer trips, he seems to have found his happy place over a mile. The most impressive of his wins this year have been his last two, both G1's, both over a mile and both 108 Beyer Ratings. His latest in Canada saw him jump from post #1, hold the fence and sustain heavy pressure from a wall of rivals. As they straightened for home he quickly broke clear of the pack and raced away for a sparkling 2 1/2 length win. He quickly turned heads and was moved to equal favourite with Ribchester. He missed the BC last year due to his form slightly tapering off and you get the impression every day since has been about getting him right for this race. He seems fullproof to my eye with my only slight concern being on the amount of pressure and speed in this contest. I'm not certain of pilot's Velazquez's tactics for this race as to whether he'll blast away early or whether he'll take his medicine and look to settle just in behind the early running. Big chance of winning for the home team.

6) Zelzal (ML 20/1) - Classy French 4yo who hasn't quite been able to show his best on the track in 2017 for his astute trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. Only the three runs thus far in the year (two on soft tracks) and after starting favourite twice (G1 & G3), has been beaten both times. In between those efforts, he finished fourth in the Sussex (G1 1600m; Ribchester second) beaten 2 1/2 lengths in August. Hasn't quite lived up to his G1 French win as a 3yo in the Prix Jean Prat (1600m)  at Chantilly and a little unsure of where he's at right now. It's a vote of confidence he's here though and he's had a very light racing season, so perhaps he has a big run waiting in him. Will settle in the back half and rely on a great ride from his regular French pilot Benoist to get into the race. Is well found in market (10/1 in most places) vs a generous ML, but his best suggests he can be competitive back on a firm surface and particularly if the race falls apart at the front end. I'm reluctant to dismiss him. Worth an each way ticket.

7) Om (ML 20/1) - The 5yo local hasn't missed a cheque in his last seven runs (G1, 2 & 3), but also hasn't won for two years (beaten by some longshots in his race) Has maintained a string of performances in the 100+ Beyer ratings but needs to pull something extraordinary out of the bag today to claim another cheque in this event. Can settle in the first half of the field, but will be found wanting at the business end.

8) Suedois (ML 6/1) - Terribly consistent and genuine G2 6yo French gelding who is terribly competitive in this type of grade from 1200m - 1600m distances. Big winner from the back at Keeneland (Shadwell MIle) when sweeping home over the top late to score his first Group One win in 32 starts. Fair to say he's probably found a new lease of life judging by that breakthrough win and suspect he'll be expected to improve again here. He's a stalker so no doubt settle in the back of the field and try to come with a sustained 600m run from the tail. Despite his biggest career win, I can't help but think if he raced some of the Euro's here back in Europe, he would start long odds and would be beaten by Ribchester and Roly Poly over a mile. For this reason alone I'm in the no corner with him today and will oppose at his short quote of 10/1.

9) Home of The Brave (ML 20/1) - A 5yo entire by Aus sire Starspangledbanner trained by Hugo Palmer from England. His promising trainer who now has a date with destiny in the Melbourne Cup with his 12/1 chance Wall of Fire, is heading back to Melbourne today to oversee that horse's final prep. Not exactly a great sign for Home of The Brave! The chestnut will be guided home by champion US hoop Mike Smith and is a solid G2-G3 performer in England. Raced in the BC Turf Sprint last year and weakend late to finish 11th beaten eight lengths (SP 16/1) Main issue with this guy is his apparent lack of one mile form, especially in this kind of company. He's got great early speed but that might be a major disadvantage amongt this speed laden line up. He's currently 20/1 in the betting but realistically should be double or triple that quote. Can't win.

10) Ribchester (ML 7/2) - Star Godolphin colt for English trainer Richard Fahey who has amassed US $3.4 mil in prizemoney with six lifetime wins. Started the UK season with a bang winning the Lockinge and Queen Anne Stakes (perhaps we'll see Winx there in 2018!) over the mile trips. Beaten at Glorious Goodwood in the Sussex as a short priced elect (Zelzal fourth) Bounced back with a stylish French G1 winner at Chantilly before being beaten fair and square at Ascot on Champions Day by Persuasive. He's a wonderful miler who has a very prosperous career ahead of him at stud. The $2 million dollar question here is has he had enough? I'd suggest for yard watchers to keep an eye on the coverage and see what you make of him in the pre-parade ring and possibly on the exchange too! You'd like to see him do everything right before the race and remain firm in the betting. I'm a little concerned about him on the tight Del Mar as he is a horse who has done most of his racing down straight miles and with plenty of galloping room. This will be like nothing he has encountered before and more like a Nascar race. No question he will appreciate the fast tempo that will be set from the front and if Buick can settle him into a decent trailing position in the early stages, he can most certainly win this. The main danger.

11) Ballagh Rocks (ML 12/1) - This consistent 4yo son of Stormy Atlantic has had a decent last four months, considering he only broke his maiden 14 months ago at Belmont. Has won four times since, the best a G3 success (1600m) at Belmont, but placed twice at G1 level at his last two runs. Will be ridden quietly in the back half and connections will be praying they go helter-skelter up at the front end. His last three Beyer's are all 100+ and he is racing in great heart. Certainly not the worst here and should be included in wider multiples.

12) Roly Poly (ML 6/1) - 3yo filly in the care of Aidan O'Brien to be ridden by the champion jockey Ryan Moore. She's certainly been a busy girl racing eight times in 2017, but did chalk up two G1 victories (Newmarket 1600m) in the process and a second in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot behind stablemate Winter. Finished 9th in the BC Juvenile Fillies last year but difficult to be too negative at the end of a 2yo season with travel thrown in. Has to be respected in this as clearly she's a quality filly who's at her peak now according to Timeform with a career high rating of 118 off a G1 success. That day she knocked off Persuasive who subsequently went on to beat Ribchester in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Still giving away a little bit of class to Ribchester and is too close to him in the betting for my personal taste, but it's late in their season, she's still on the up and is in the astute hands. Moore will be trying to find a midfield position early and slot into the running line off what should be a solid speed. Impossible to dismiss for all these reasons. She's a strong each way hope.

13) Blackjacket (ML 15/1) - This Tale of the Cat 4yo secured his berth here by taking the G2 Del Mar Mile in August and is here on a four time winning streak. In the Del Mar Mile he achieved a career high Beyer rating of 102 when sitting on the speed and lasting late home (Om third) He also has decent speed in the early stages but so do plenty of others underneath him. This race just doesn't look to shape to his liking and he also doesn't look a genuine G1 horse either. Not today.

14) Karar (ML 15/1) - French Invader who gains the services of Frankie Dettori for his biggest test to date. Has been placed twice in G1 company back home over 1400m, but does remain a little risky in this grade at the mile. At their best he's 12 Timeform points shy of Ribchester who leads the European charge in this contest. He raced in the BC Turf Sprint last year at Santa Anita and went horribly finishing last beaten 16 lengths. Awfully drawn in a race with plenty of speed, so the great jockey will have some early decisions to make here! Too many things conspiring against him in this race and seems awfully tight in the betting at 20/1. 

Summary
Superb contest with plenty of different angles in play. World Approval is beastly and the galloper they must all beat. He will be best served to settle off the hot speed, and allow his agility and power to take effect from the 600m mark. If he strikes he front around the home turn, I suspect he won't be caught. His price is reasonable around the 3/1.

Zelzal has had a quiet 2017 but should not be underestimated and if the race self destructs at the front, I'd be really disappointed if he wasn't running into the finish. He is worth an each way play. Ribchester needs no introduction. He's a super miler and a formidable opponent. His class can certainly shine through here, despite my concerns about him at Del Mar. The filly Roly Poly is another who can feature in this if she repeats or lifts again off her career best latest. 

The best of the rest is Ballagh Rocks.

Selections
5 World Approval
6 Zelzal
12 Roly Poly
10 Ribchester

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