Europe is relying on Aidan O’Brien and, let’s be honest, Aidan O’Brien is relying on Arizona, whose rating is relying to some extent on Pinatubo, a rating that’s higher than any of Ballydoyle’s previous four winners of the Juvenile Turf going into it, two of which likewise came via the Dewhurst.
So too did Anthony Van Dyck, beaten favourite in last year’s Juvenile Turf, but they’re very different in where they’ve been (and where they’re going), and Anthony Van Dyck could never have won a Coventry, just as Arizona wouldn’t last out in a Derby.
But he’d last as far as a mile at Santa Anita, you’d think. Arizona has the tools and talent to take down the Juvenile Turf, looking a cut above the Americans on all known evidence.
Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Albigna took in two of the three “Win and You’re In” races in Europe, found to be in season in the Moyglare (only sixth) but back in the fast lane of improvement when storming through in the Prix Marcel Boussac, relishing the distance over which the Juvenile Fillies Turf will be played out. She’s in pole position amongst the European contingent.
In the other “Win and You’re In” contest, the Rockfel, Daahyeh went one better than in the Moyglare, but she’s by a sprinter and out of a sprinter, and so the question mark of stamina is a significant one, even around the speedy contours of Santa Anita.
Of the O’Brien trio, thinking that Precious Moments is just making up the numbers, it’s the professionalism of Tango versus the potential of Etoile. In between her lower-level wins, Tango has been a mere bit-part player in five Group contests, her limits seemingly set, if not a mile, while Etoile has overshadowed her spectacular start (in a Group 3), a setback followed by a subdued showing in the Cheveley Park.
JUVENILE TURF SPRINT
Europe is sending its ‘A’ Team: A’Ali, Al Raya and Alligator Alley. But, even collectively, they may have their work cut out against an American drag racer who we’ve see flash her speed in Britain, namely Kimari, who was caught in the last strides of the Queen Mary by Raffle Prize.
A’Ali has staked a strong claim to be considered the fastest juvenile in Europe, courtesy of convincing wins in the Norfolk and the Flying Childers, defeating Dream Shot latterly, though it’s worth remembering that Alligator Alley was the even-money favourite that day, when the tepid tempo to begin with severely compromised him: Alligator Alley will be much more of a force, in theory, with the end-to-end gallop at Santa Anita.
It’s 3-2 to Fairyland in match-ups between her and So Perfect this year, just a short-head between them at the finish of the Flying Five at the Curragh in September. There’s little or nothing between them in ability, or in what they need to show it, though Fairyland tends to come from a little further back, and therefore much will depend on the luck of the draw next week and the run of the race on the night, although the gut feeling in that the pair of them may be bringing knives to a gunfight.
FILLY & MARE TURF
A big head-to-head, perhaps the biggest of all at this year’s Breeders’ Cup, with the best of North America going up against the second-best of Europe. Second-best because Enable is the undisputed Queen, a global giant, but Magical is one of shoulders she stands upon, and, presented with the stage to herself for once, she didn’t miss in the Champion Stakes.
She’s thriving on racing, like last year when she went from Leopardstown to Paris to Ascot to America within seven weeks, culminating with the Turf itself at Churchill, where she gave Enable a race. A few hours prior to that, Sistercharlie won the Filly & Mare Turf, her fourth Grade 1 in the US, which has become seven as her powers have grown yet more this year.
Sistercharlie has an air of invincibility about her, but she’s never faced an opponent like Magical, and it’s hard to completely corner this as a two-horse race, not when there are three other Group 1 winners from Europe (Billesdon Brook, Castle Lady and Villa Marina), as well as John Gosden’s only representative at the meeting (Fanny Logan).
That said, this can only be billed as a doozy duel, between Europe and America, between O’Brien and Chad Brown, between Moore and John Velazquez, between a sustained surge and a closing kick, between Magical and Sistercharlie.
When Circus Maximus lined up for the Derby, at 10/1, under Frankie Dettori, imagine what price he’d have been then to be favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, when he looked so set on a very different path. All-out wins in the St James’s Palace and Prix du Moulin have booked him a Transatlantic ticket, though he lacks the zip that has characterised Europe’s eight previous winners of the Mile.
The Euro squad for the Mile can be categorised as quantity over quality, as many as eight in number, but Circus Maximus is the best of a moderate bunch, Line Of Duty offering some hope as a longshot, remembering that he was only a length off Circus Maximus in the Moulin, plus the fact he won at the Breeders’ Cup last year.
The European banker more often than not, as in 35 editions Europe has won it 20½ times, the ½ because High Chaparral dead-heated the year after he had won it outright, in 2002, the first Derby winner to double up. Which brings us to Anthony Van Dyck.
It’s a statement of faith in Anthony Van Dyck that O’Brien is keeping Magical to the mares race rather than let her loose in the Turf like last year, but Magical is just a better horse, isn’t she? Ten furlongs is probably more her trip, explaining the 2½ lengths between them in the Irish Champion Stakes, but the Derby – and only the Derby – justifies the sort of odds he is against Bricks And Mortar for the Turf, though Epsom and Santa Anita are chalk and cheese.
Old Persian has probably had one eye on this ever since Meydan in the spring, warming up for it with a winning trip to Woodbine, if only doing what was expected of him there. He’s not yet an elite Group 1 colt, and his price reflects that this is a pretty thin renewal of the Turf.