CAN ELATE HIT THE HEADLINES BY EMULATING ZENYATTA?
I arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday night and it was an easy ship: six hours on the plane from JFK to LAX.
That set me up perfectly to get out to training this morning. I managed to get a nice spot in the Winstar/Fasig-Tipton sponsored Breakfast Marquee tent. The first horse I clapped eyes on after walking in was a pretty special one: ELATE.
It’s a great looking Breeders’ Cup with a lot of story lines to follow but Elate has the potential to become the one that mainstream media really latches onto. She’s a filly taking on the boys in the Classic and while that’s nearly a quotidian event in European grass racing, in USA dirt racing, it’s something notable. And the fact that she’s doing it at Santa Anita, the track where 10 years ago Zenyatta won the Classic against the boys, means I think we’ll be hearing a lot about her.
Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November.
She goes to the Classic with a big chance. Bill Mott is one of America’s great trainers by any definition, but especially when he picks a target for a horse from a long way out and points for it. I believe that this has been the target for Elate all along. Looking at her form, her three best races have all come going 10 furlongs, the Classic distance.
Perhaps more importantly, and this was on evidence today, she just has the look of a horse who can run all day – powerfully built with a long, easy stride. Seeing her out there this morning definitely moved up my estimation of her chances. I do worry that all the attendant publicity might mean that her price crashes by race day but that’s a bridge I’m willing to cross when I get to it. I will say this, if you know you want to back her now, the 13-2 currently on offer in multiple locations is very likely to be longer than she’ll be on day.
RED-HOT JUVENILE ONE OF THE RACES OF 2019
The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for me is shaping up to be one of the most exciting races of the whole Cup for me, and I saw the three top contenders this morning as well.
EIGHT RINGS was my initial guess to be the favorite in this spot, but I’m starting to have second thoughts. He looks great in his flesh, and worked well enough this morning, but it’s mainly the strength of the competition that’s making me re-evaluate.
On figures and form alone, DENNIS’ MOMENT should be the favourite. He’s run the fastest figure, and passed the test in with a facile win a graded stake last name. He didn’t work today but his recent morning moves have been eyecatching and I did see him in the flesh today, just jogging the wrong way around the track to stretch his legs. He looked awesome, big for his age, muscled up, with a strong neck – to me he had that “coiled spring” look I’ve heard equine physicality experts like Richard Migliore talk about.
And then there’s MAXFIELD. I’ve already profiled him here. He continues to make a fantastic impression visually and looks very well in himself – he’s got so much scope and I think he’s going to continue to get better and better. If I have one concern, it’s that he hasn’t broken well in his two races. I’m not sure he’ll be able to spot these rivals any lengths early and still win.
Then again, as well as he’s run despite those breaks, he might truly outrun the wind if he gets out of the gate with alacrity. I also love the fact that trainer Brendan Walsh rode on the charter plane with Maxfield as they made their journey from Kentucky. He’s a terrific up-and-coming trainer who projects an old-school horseman vibe.
There’s so much talent in this group. At this moment, I’m leaning to the idea that I like Dennis’ Moment best in this spot, Maxfield best in terms of longterm prospects, and that Eight Rings might prove unlucky to have caught such a strong field. I think he’d win an average running of the Juvenile.
And perhaps the most interesting thing about this generation of two-year-olds is that it’s possible the best of them will end up being Tiz the Law, who is skipping the Breeders’ Cup in favor of a run at Churchill Downs in November. His connections like the idea of taking a conservative approach that will also give them a run over the track where the Kentucky Derby takes place.
Proof once again that it’s never too early to start thinking about the Run for the Roses.