The Breeders’ Cup prep race season is on in earnest. Over the past several years we’ve seen the races that take place late in the Saratoga meet as well as this past weekend at Woodbine, prove to be key Breeders’ Cup pointers. With that in mind, I’m going to take a look at those events, and also give an overview of the key win-and-you-re-in races we’ve witnessed thus far.
Let’s look at where we stand in a few key divisions to commence our BC 2019 coverage.
The betting markets are showing this as an open renewal and so far, including Aidan O’Brien’s Japan (feels more likely to run in the Turf but you never know), the Japanese runner Inti, Seeking the Soul, Maximum Security, Higher Power, and McKinzie. The latter is the market leader and has topped experts’ polls for this division all season long. Even though he’s 3 of 6 on the season, he’s showed his quality this term, and his race in the Met Mile was definitely a winning effort. Questions remain if he’s best at the mile-and-a-quarter, but the current prices compensate for that. He’s very interesting at current prices of 5-1.
Race replay: McKinzie wins the Whitney.
There have been 11 WAYI races for the Turf but the biggest question here is will Enable return to defend her crown? Interviews with John Gosden have all but ruled the possibility out, but you never know. We’ll see what happens in the Arc.
Magical officially won her way in last weekend in the Irish Champion Stakes and would be very dangerous if connections decide to come here – she made a massive run in last year’s race. We’ll have to see what happens in the Arc. Also, from the Irish Champion, Deirdre could be interesting. She had trouble, flew home, and galloped out full of run. We know she likes left-handed and firm as well.
Other relevant runners to have won in so far include Bricks and Mortar and Annals of Time from Chad Brown’s barn. The former has won six in a row and is putting together a case for USA Horse of the Year. Perhaps he’ll be the one to break Europe’s recent strangle hold on the race? Though the distance could be an issue – he’s never run past 10 furlongs, which could land him in the . . .
There have been several WAYI races geared towards the mile but the question remains: who will actually show up to compete here? Bricks and Mortar is a possibility, though he might find the mile too sharp. Names like Circus Maximus, King of Comedy, Romanised and Lord Glitters (the latter two having won WAYI races) have been mentioned as possible raiders, and they’d all look pretty interesting.
This past weekend El Tormenta won his way in from the Woodbine Mile as a wild outsider. The second there, Got Stormy, has already won in via Saratoga’s Sistercharlie. Connections have hyped her as the second coming of Tepin, and she feels likely to turn the tables on El Tormenta next time, back at a tight, two-turn mile as opposed to Woodbine’s more galloping, one-turn configuration.
Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November.
Filly and Mare Turf
Defending champion Sistercharlie has earned her place at the top of the market and comes to this off of two very impressive Grade 1 wins. With the USA-based three-year-old Concrete Rose done for the season, it’s hard to see any of the local runners toppling her, but it remains to be seen what will come over to challenge her from overseas.
Race replay: Sistercharlie storms home in the Diana Stakes
Juvenile Turf Sprint
It sounds like A’Ali will make his next start in the Juvenile Turf Sprint and I’ve been interested in him for this spot since the connections made it clear it was the goal after he took the WAYI Norfolk at Ascot in fine style. The other WAYI runner so far is Earthlight, who beat A’Ali in the Morny but sounds like he will be pointed to longer races like next year’s Classics.
The Wesley Ward filly Kimari is another to mention here. Her form and figures look very strong for this after nearly winning the Queen Mary and then bolting up in the Bolton Landing at Saratoga (the second from there, Abscond, will be covered momentarily).
So far, only Mogul and Decorated Invader have won into the Juvenile Turf. O’Brien didn’t mention the USA for Mogul after the win in the Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown, but with the good efforts we’ve seen at three from horses who’ve ended their two-year-old campaigns in the states the last few years, perhaps it’s not out of the question. As for Decorated Invader, he won the Summer Stakes at Woodbine building on his impressive maiden win at Saratoga. He is definitely being pointed to the Juvenile Turf. He’ll have to keep improving to win that but current odds of 8-1 are fair at least. As we know, the winner of this typically comes from abroad.
Juvenile Fillies’ Turf
Unlike its brother race, this one typically goes to a USA-based runner.
The most impressive so far has been Crystalle, trained by John Kimmel. Following her controversial DQ on August 4, she came back to win well with a wide trip in the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga. She could be the right filly again at the Breeders’ Cup.
The one to qualify so far from a WAYI race was Abscond in the Natalma at Woodbine. She’d run well enough sprinting and won first-time stretching out for Eddie Kenneally. In addition to the top filly, it feels like there will be some others waiting for her in the wings as well, possibly trained by Chad Brown (won this race 5 times and has impressed with Voting Agreement and Indochine), not to mention the foreign contingent.
Race replay: Crystalle comes from first to last in the P.G. Johnson.