It’s one of the biggest meetings in the racing calendar with millions in prize money and Tote pools at stake, so, we preview all of the cards for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
SANTA ANITA FRIDAY NIGHT
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf: (Win – 11) (Exacta – 11 & 6) (Trifecta – 11 & 6 & 13)
This is only the 10th running of this race and Aidan O’Brien is looking for his 4th winner (Ryan Moore has rode the winner on each of the previous 3 occasions). He relies this time on Lancaster Bomber & Intelligence Cross – both stepping up to a mile for the 1st time – but they’ll have to go some to cope with Bill Motts’ Good Samaritan. His win last time out at Woodbine was super impressive, coming right from the back and circling the entire field to win going away. He has an explosive turn of foot and, with Oscar Performance likely to make the pace from the front, the race should be set up nicely for him. Big Score earned a huge Beyer speed figure when bolting up over C&D latest and is the biggest danger.
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: (Win – 3) (Exacta – 3 & 9) (Trifecta – 3 & 9 & 7)
Another race having its 10th anniversary this year at Santa Anita and, unsurprisingly, no previous European winner or no entries this year. Runhappy won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keenland last year and also won over 7f here at the end of 2015. He’s been well beaten on both occasions that he’s tried a mile or further however. This looks nailed on to go to Dortmund. This massive chestnut has only been beaten by California Chrome and Beholder in 3 starts this year and this represents a massive drop in class. He’s also a 5-time course winner and rates banker material for all Pick 4 players. Gun Runner can fare best of the 3-yr-olds.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: (Win – 13) (Exacta – 13 & 4) (Trifecta – 13 & 4 & 1)
Only 1 European success in this race, courtesy of Chrisseliam back in 2013, but a very classy raiding party this year courtesy of Aidan & Joseph O’Brien. Form-wise, Intricately is the filly to beat having taken the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes from Hydrangea & Rhododendron – both of whom went on to fight out the finish of the Dubai Fillies Mile 4 weeks later. But interesting then that Ryan Moore chooses Roly Poly over Hydrangea and that must be taken as a tip in itself. This filly by war Front has always looked likely to be suited by the step up in trip (she’s out of Misty For Me) and was only touched off at Group 1 level last time out in the Cheveley Park Stakes. Spain Burg, recently bought to race in the US, is a big danger from a prime draw in 4.
Breeders’ Cup Distaff: (Win – 8) (Exacta – 8 & 1) (Trifecta – 8 & 1 & 5)
Wow!! What an absolute treat this promises to be. We have 2015 champion 2-yr-old (and probable 2016 champion 3-yr-old) Songbird – undefeated but taking on older horses for the 1st time. Then we have Stellar Wind, one of the most improved fillies in training in the US and 2015 champion 3-yr-old and – to top it all off – there’s also Beholder, Distaff winner in 2013 who recorded one of her best ever career figures last time out. There’s no doubt that this race could be run several times with several different results. Songbird has never, ever been tested and has been hugely impressive all runs so far but faces her biggest test taking on her elders. She’s likely to set the pace and will be there to be shot at. Her 3lb allowance could also make all the difference. Stellar Wind is the improver but fails to convince in larger fields so that leaves Beholder to go out in a blaze of glory at a track where she’s won 13 out of 15. A two-time Breeders’ Cup champ, she has the perfect draw in 8 to sit and stalk before wearing down the likely favourite. This is one of the best Distaff line-ups we’re ever likely to see.
SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies: (Win – 9) (Exacta – 9 & 10) (Trifecta – 9 & 10 & 3)
Union Strike improved greatly for her debut run when running away with the Grade 1 Debutante Stakes at Del Mar and will be very hard to beat. She also joined Craig Dollase recently but will need to hold a prominent position on a speed-favouring track such as this. Noted & Quoted was no match for the selection in the Debutante but improved to take a Grade 1 here early last month. Valadorna, a daughter of Curlin, has only beaten maidens but has looked good doing so. She continues to improve.
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mares Turf: (Win – 8) (Exacta – 8 & 1) (Trifecta – 8 & 1 & 3)
3-yr-olds have a pretty dire record in this (only Midday, Ouija Board and Banks Hill have won for the classic generation) and Lady Eli may enhance Chad Brown’s remarkable record in it. He’s taken 3 of the last 4 runnings and this 4-yr-old daughter of Divine Park is unbeaten apart from when returning from a near career-ending bout of laminitis. She’s perfectly drawn in 8 and her style of running is well suited to Santa Anita. Seventh Heaven would have been a strong fancy for this on the back of her defeat of Found at York but she bombed out at Ascot latest. Sea Calisi (also Chad Brown) is probably the biggest danger having finished 3rd behind the selection in the Flower Bowl at Belmont Park.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Dirt): (Win – 6) (Exacta – 6 & 5) (Trifecta – 6 & 5 & 7)
Given the speed bias at Santa Anita it will most likely pay to forget about closers here and concentrate on those who will be on the speed. Recent history also steers us towards the older horses so that narrows the field even further. Bob Baffert has won the Sprint 4 times and has a huge contender in Lord Nelson. It’s very likely that Masochistic will set very strong fractions with Lord Nelson tracking and poised to strike in the straight. He also has a major advantage that few others can claim: a proven ability to handle the fastest of California sprint paces and still produce a finishing kick. AP Indian is also a big danger if he ‘ships’ well from the East coast.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Turf): (Win – 10) (Exacta – 10 & 11) (Trifecta – 10 & 11 & 13)
Last year’s winner (when run at Keenland) Mongolian Saturday, returns to defend his crown but is hard to fancy back over 6 1/2 f. Aidan O’Brien’s Washington DC, well drawn in 8, would be a huge fancy were he a year older. Downhill specialists have been very strong when this race is run at Santa Anita and this brings in Ambitious Brew – he’s a true downhill specialist and has a plum draw in 10. His two wins this year came on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course at 6 ½ furlongs and that strengthens confidence.. Undrafted was a close 3rd in this race when it was last run at Santa Anita and is not without a chance while Holy Lute is another multiple course winner with a big chance in a wide open renewal.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: (Win – 1) (Exacta – 1 & 2) (Trifecta – 1 & 2 & 7)
Syndergaard set scorching fractions when just run out of it by Practical Joke in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park latest and is a big runner if John Velasquez can get the pace right here. Practical Joke would be a big fancy here but has not gone two turns yet. Klimt has plenty of experience of two turns at Del Mar and Santa Anita and also has the ability to quicken off lightning fractions and that might just be the key here. He was help up too far back behind Gormley in the Front Runner Stakes last time out and given far too much to do. If Bejarano has him in contention before the home turn then that ability to quicken can put the race to bed.
Breeders’ Cup Turf: (Win – 10) (Exacta – 10 & 4) (Trifecta – 10 & 4 & 12)
On a line through Highland Reel, Found has the beating of Flintshire off level weights and the fact that she receives 3lbs off Chad Brown’s stable star is the icing on the cake. She was a brilliant winner of this last year (as a 3-yr-old) and has taken her form to a new level this year. Her last 7 starts have been at Group 1 level, the highlight being her win in the Arc at Chantilly. She’s a confident pick under Ryan Moore to beat her biggest danger Flintshire. He was just beaten in this by Main Sequence in 2014 and turned over last time out by Ectot on unsuitably yielding ground. He’s a big player here back on firm turf.
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint: (Win – 2) (Exacta – 2 & 6) (Trifecta – 2 & 6 & 3)
Carina Mia bids to become the first 3-yr-old to win this and has finished 2nd to none other than Songbird on 2 of her last 3 runs. Her other defeat, however, was behind Haveyougoneaway who won the Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga – traditionally on of the best prep races for this. She also beat several of today’s rivals on that occasion. By The Moon, 2nd on that occasion, is likely to again be the biggest danger.
Breeders’ Cup Mile: (Win – 2) (Exacta – 2 & 8) (Trifecta – 2 & 8 & 13)
The Mile has a rich history of girl power, with six female runners being responsible for nine of the race’s 32 wins and although Tepin is well fancied for the girls this year I think she’s looked out of sorts since running at Royal Ascot during the summer. If back to her best she’ll take all the beating but faces a 3-yr-old filly in Alice Springs who comes here on the back of 2 Group 1 wins and has looked ultra-impressive each time she’s raced on genuinely firm ground. It’s her 1st time taking on older fillies and males but she looks tailor-made for this. Limato will likely struggle over a mile with 2 turns so Midnight Storm might hit the places.
Breeders’ Cup Classic: (Win – 4) (Exacta – 4 & 10) (Trifecta – 4 & 10 & 6)
I only have eyes for one horse here and that’s California Chrome, bidding to finish off a perfect season and make up for the heartbreak of just being touched off by Bayern and Toast Of New York in the 2014 Classic. Since then he’s won (and been 2nd) in the Dubai World Cup and his win in the Pacific (from Beholder and Dortmund) had to be seen to be believed. He’s ranked as the best horse in the world and we’ll see why in the early hours of Sunday morning. Arrogate’s win in the Travers was a freak performance but this 2-time course winner is not easily overlooked if able to back that up. It looks a straight shootout between the two of them and Melatonin can take 3rd place.
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