Longshot Betting – 30th April 2012

Two selections and the multiple advised, coming from Wolverhampton. Well, Sunday was absolutely devastating from a punting point of view, as Cadoudalas almost did the business for us. He went off a huge price on Betfair but was allowed to sit towards the front of the main group of runners, which is what I wanted. Conditions were right for him and he kept finding more from the front, looking a very likely winner turning for home. Three out however, he made a horrific blunder and almost unseated his rider, who did well to stay on. That loss of momentum cost him the race as he was only 1.25 lengths behind the winner in the end, who for the second time this year has mugged us of a nice winner.  Hopefully some of you who were on backed him each-way, as I certainly didn’t. Monday’s selections are tentative but I’ve noticed that these two horses have extremely similar profiles and run for the same trainer/owner/jockey. I’m advising the double merely because of these similarities. Selections below.

WIND STAR (18:25) drops back in trip today and that looks needed after a fairly promising show over 1m4f last time, which was his second run back from an extended absence. This drop in trip will help and the drop in grade will surely assist him, and with more positive handling he can definitely go close off a career low mark of 55. The selection was previously a very decent horse, last winning a handicap off a mark of 83. That was back in 2009 and his last positive showing was all the way back in 2010 off a rating of 80, so it may seem like I’m clutching at straws a bit. However, Wind Star missed the entire of 2011 and his run last time signalled that a return to form over better conditions was plausible. His reappearance effort was pretty lifeless, but that was to be expected really off such a long break and he improved for that significantly last time. Backed at big odds, he travelled into the race really well, but didn’t really pick up in the last two furlongs and ended up beaten by around 10 lengths. The way he travelled that day suggests that this extended mile trip should suit, especially if the race is strongly run. That’s likely enough today with Strong Vigilance and Takhreej both capable of leading and the race should be run at a fair gallop. The reapplication of cheekpieces is also a positive, as his two efforts with them applied; he was beaten by less than 2 lengths on each occasion. Those were races where he was running off 25lbs higher than he does so it’s fair to say he definitely benefits from wearing them, so it should definitely sharpen him. Stronger handling in Kirsty Milczarek will also help taking over from an apprentice and a bold showing in a race that will be run to suit, with cheekpieces back on and off a ridiculously low mark, mean he’s worthy of a small bet.

BILKO PAK (20:55) has similar characteristics to the above selection. Cheekpieces are reapplied for the first time in a while, and when he last wore them he showed a decent level of form in them for the grade, so their reapplication is a plus. The switch up to 7f from sprinting trips will also suit, having looked to need further than 6f earlier in his career and his best recent form at sprinting distances indicated that he needed further. His reappearance effort last time also indicated that he needed the trip and with stronger handling again also a plus, from a career low mark, the similarities with stable mate Wind Star really do start to add up.  Bilko Pak is an ex-Richard Hannon inmate who hasn’t won since his juvenile days with that yard, but showed a fair level of form in that grade when rated higher during 2011, alongside a couple of creditable performances in handicaps off marks in the 70’s. I don’t quite think he’s a lost cause, although his tendency to start slowly recently is a cause for concern, at least the step up in trip will be less of a disadvantage. Down to a career low mark, back to a distance that I think might be his best and with cheekpieces reapplied, dropped in grade and with stronger handling today, he’s also worthy of a small bet.

[notification_box]Bets

18:25 Wolverhampton – Wind Star;  1pt @ 18/1 William Hill (bog)

20:55 Wolverhampton – Bilko Pak;  1pt @ 25/1 William Hill (bog)

Wind Star + Bilko Pak; 1pt double @ 493/1 William Hill (bog) [/notification_box]

Carter Handicap Preview (USA)

Whilst the Wood Memorial will be taking majority of interest on Saturday’s 11-race card at Aqueduct, the best race for me is without doubt the Grade 1 Carter Handicap worth a rather cool $400,000 for older sprinters.

A race with a rich history, including producing the first ever triple dead-heat in a stakes race back in the 1944 renewal, as Bossuet, Wait And Bit and Brownie hit the line as one.

Nine champions have won the Carter Handicap going back to 1953 when Tom Fool became Horse of the Year. 1999 champion Artax set the stake and track record with a time of 1:20.04. Bold Ruler (1954), Star de Naskra (1979), Gulch (1988), Housebuster (1991), and Kodiak Kowboy (2009) also won championship honours.

This year’s renewal see’s an elite field go to post in what is sure to be a tactical conundrum for all horseplayers amongst us.

The Todd Pletcher trained Calibrachoa is virtually unbeatable at Aqueduct, and he bids to extend his dominance at the course and is looking to confirm form with both, Caleb’s Posse and Emcee based on their Tom Fool running extending his unbeaten run on the inner track to 5-from-5. The problem is that the Carter Handicap will be run on the main track, a course where Calibrachoa has been beaten before in the Cigar Mile but still has a very respectable record of 7-from-8 at Aqueduct on the whole, that is some record.

Calibrachoa has also run Beyer figures of 111 and 106 in his last two races on the lead-up to the Carter, and as a perfect (1 for 1) record over the scheduled distance of seven furlongs.

The one thing we can be pretty much sure about is that three unbeaten records over the distance look set to end. Jackson Bend comes into it (3 for 3), Caleb’s Posse (2 for 2), Calibrachoa (1 for 1) and Emcee (1 for 1), which one of those will maintain their unbeaten run though? Or will all of them lose it at the expense of Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford, or even Tahitian Warrior?

The favourite for this race Caleb’s Posse comes into the race off the back of defeat at the hands of Calibrachoa in the Tom Fool (Grade 3), and jockey Rajiv Maragh said after the race he thought the son of Posse would improve for covering more distance.

Rajiv Maragh had the choice of riding either Caleb’s Posse or Currency Swap in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

[quote]”He’s probably one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden, his turn of food is great, quick acceleration” – said Maragh. [/quote]

Caleb’s Posse beat older horses to easily land the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile at the end of his three-year-old career and trainer Donnie Von Kemel believes his horse will improve to be even better at four, and taking into account his last two Beyer’s in graded stakes have been 110 and 111, you have to give him strong consideration – he’ll becoming with a sustained strong run from the rear of the field.

Jackson Bend also puts his unbeaten (3 for 3) over the distance on the line tomorrow, and he’s tuned up for this by winning the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope and finishing third in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap after stumbling at the start.

His trainer and Hall of Famer, Nick Zito believes his horse hampers himself in races by trying to beat the gate at the start of his races, suggesting if the horse would relax he’d come away a lot better in the early stages.

Before his stumble and third-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Handicap back in March, Jackson Bend had run 5 consecutive 100+ Beyer speed figures and will be looking to return to that level under Corey Natakani who returns to ride the son of Hear No Evil, having being dropped in favour of John Velazquez the last twice.

Tahitian Warrior comes into the race off the back of a pace-pressing second on the sloppy at Gulfstream back in February, clocking a 105 Beyer in the process but despite that I struggle to see him being good enough to serve it up to the likes of Caleb’s Posse in all honesty.

The Dale Romans trained Shackleford is on a losing run of six stretching back to the Preakness Stakes, and he drops back to a trip where he is (1 for 2) and he looks set to race prominently in what is sure to be a tactical affair, but I can’t honestly see him being good enough to trouble the judge.

Which leaves me with my idea of the winner, the Kiaran McLaughlin trained Emcee who can lead them a merry dance from the front under John Velazquez. The lightly raced son of Unbridled’s Song has only raced three times but has already chalked up Beyer’s of 108 and 107 which would give him an outstanding chance in this contest, and you can expect further improvement with experience.

His last run when third to Calibrachoa is more respectable that in looks, especially when you take into account he chased the hot pace set by Royal Currier, duelled with both Caleb’s Posse and Calibrachoa before finishing just a length behind at the wire.

Looking at the pace angles in the race I think John Velazquez should be able to get out in-front on the lightly raced Emcee, with Shackleford and Tahitian Warrior likely to sit on his coat-tails in the early stages but won’t necessarily press him to go faster. With both Caleb’s Posse and Jackson Bend being staunch hold-up performers, and Calibrachoa somewhere in-between the two, if Velazquez plays it cute he could steal this massive prize and make a stallion prospect out of this likeable four-year-old.

[notification_box]My Bet:
1pt win Emcee @ 9-2 with Ladbrokes [/notification_box]

 

Wood Memorial 2012 Preview (USA)

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 continues this weekend with key prep races in both New York and California. In this article, I’m going to concentrate on the Wood Memorial, run over a mile and a furlong at Aqueduct.

It’s no secret that one of the World’s most powerful owners Sheikh Mohammed and, arguably, America’s most successful trainer of recent times Todd Pletcher have both tried (and failed) numerous times to win the Run For The Roses.

These two behemoths square off here with the exciting Alpha and the undefeated Gemologist.

Godolphin’s Alpha has been perfect in two runs since adding Lasix, following a very dull effort behind two year old champ Hansen in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. That race is best forgiven, though, as Alpha was fractious in the gate and also bled during the race.

While he hasn’t done anything wrong this year, his two wins were against modest opposition and this race will provide a much sterner test of his credentials.

Despite being unbeaten, Gemologist is far from certain to qualify for the Derby. His graded earnings are only just over $103k, and a figure nearer to $225k is probably going to be needed just to gain entry to the race. That means Gemologist absolutely needs a top three finish to even get a run, though his undoubted talent should see to that.

Talented he may be, but he hasn’t really been tested in his short career, and three of his four wins have come when allowed to relax on a very easy lead. That won’t happen here with a few other proven speedsters in the race. He may well have to stalk just off the lead, as in his stakes win at Churchill Downs last November.

One of the aforementioned speedsters is The Lumber Guy, a very easy winner of a minor stakes race over seven furlongs at Laurel last time, he’ll certainly take the field along at what should be a nice clip, with Teeth Of The Dog keeping him honest up front.

That brings me to the most fascinating contender in the field, Street Life. He’ll need a good pace to run at, but will relish every yard of the trip, being a son of 2007 Derby winner Street Sense. Just like his daddy, he’ll sit off the pace and look to make one long, withering run to mow them down late.

My Adonis and Casual Trick are both respected too, but it would be disappointing for the division as a whole were they good enough to win in this spot. Similar sentiments apply to Tiger Walk, who would be something of a surprise winner.

Myself, I have no firm views on the race, other than to say that whoever does triumph will have it all to do with the current Derby favourite Union Rags, who has drifted to a very nice price on the back of an ill-judged ride in the Florida Derby.

The normally excellent Julien Leparoux will surely learn from his mistakes there in time to make amends on the big day.

Rags will hopefully lead to riches come the first Saturday in May.

BMW Stakes 2012 Preview (AUS)

The last renewal of this Group 1 middle distance race was won by Cedarberg who caused somewhat of a shock landing the odds at 25-1, and was chased home by fellow outsider Mourayan who ran second at 40-1.

The favourite of this race was Descarado (21-10F) who came into this race off the back of a strong showing in the Ranvet Stakes (Group 1), a key lead-up race but failed to finish in the placings.

In fact this race has often gone to large priced horses in recent years and some examples of this would be most recent winner Cedarberg (25-1), Littorio in 2010 (16-1), Fiumicino in 2009 (30-1), Blutigeroo in 2007 (10-1) to name but a few.

During the last twenty-years there have been six horses complete the Ranvet-BMW Stakes double, with Tuesday Joy most recent in 2008. Equally rare is the Australian Cup-BMW Stakes double, which was last done by the ‘cup queen’ Makybe Diva in 2005. Should Manighar be victorious on Saturday he will join both elite lists, which will be a feat in itself.

Another thing worth taking into account is that both Southern Speed (Caulfield Cup) and Scarlett Lady (Queensland Oaks) have each won their only start over the mile and a half distance, both winning with a fair degree of comfort.

Another interesting stat is that the old boy Niwot has won his last three races where he has drawn stall 7, will it be another success here for the gelded son of Galileo?

The BMW Stakes
Date: April 7, 2012
Track: Rosehill Racecourse
Distance: 2400m
Conditions: Weight-for-age
Status: Group 1
Prize Money: $2,2500,000
Inaugurated: 1963

 


[frame_center src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/cedarberg.jpg” href=”#”]Cedarberg winning in 2011.[/frame_center]
[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/87838_americain_usa.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]AMERICAIN – Winner of the Melbourne Cup in 2010, and ran a somewhat incredible fourth place off top-weight in 2011. Americain has continued his rich vein of form with a big comeback run in the Australian Cup for new trainer David Hayes. Partnered for the first time by Steven Arnold, Americain was slow out of the blocks but finished with a strong burst to close on Manighar at the line, finishing third. Gerald Mosse is back in the plate tomorrow, and he has a formidable record on this powerful son of Dynaformer (51111136610141) going 8 wins from 14. The extra distance will work in favour of Americain who will have come on a heap for his reappearance and I fully expect him to reverse form with a clearly improved Manighar.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/87832_manighar_fr.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]MANIGHAR – Has been on a rapid upward curve since transferring into the care of Peter Moody in January 2012. He has since taken out both the Ranvet Stakes (Group 1) and Australian Cup (Group 1) and formed a formidable partnership with his new jockey Luke Nolen going (1311) since taking over the reins. He had proved somewhat frustrating over here in England after showing much promise in his native France, and had continued that frustration out in Australia but Peter Moody has clearly got to the bottom of this quirky grey, and the son of Linamix has been trained to peak in this race at the weekend.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/10217_efficient_nz.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]EFFICIENT – Decent run in the Australia Cup last time up, and has good form over this distance and further (2/2) at distances of 12F and above. However it has come to light this afternoon that he won’t run, and has been scratched.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/87832_manighar_fr.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]DRUNKEN SAILOR – Was a good horse in England over middle distances and failed miserably in both the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup for trainer Luca Cumani. Has since been transferred to Michael Moroney and has strung together better form figures in a much lower grade than this, culminating with a gallant second in the Adelaide Cup at Morphettville last time. The better ground will definitely suit him, as will the booking of Damian Oliver who he has gone well for so far. The re-application of the blinkers which were left off last time could spark further improvement in this quirky son of Tendulkar, and could get into the shake-up at massive odds but more likely to find this a difficult task.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/11873_fiumicino_nz.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]FIUMICINO – Won this race in 2009 when springing a massive surprise at 30-1, however he hasn’t seen a racecourse in 886 days, which has to be a massive worry for the nine-year-old who returns back to action in a very tough race. He is currently priced up at around 40/1 with William Hill and would need a near miracle to get involved at the business end of this race off such a layoff.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/24956_niwot_aus.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]NIWOT – Isn’t getting any younger at the grand old age of eight, but this likeable son of Galileo has decent form around this level, and comes into this race off the back of (3/3) when drawn in barrier 7. Keeping on all the way to the line behind Manighar in the Ranvet Stakes last time, he will appreciate the extra two furlongs in distance tomorrow but so should Manighar so it is difficult to see him reversing form with Peter Moody’s resurgent grey.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/27840_precedence_nz.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]PRECEDENCE – This horse is my idea to use an Australian term of a ‘roughie’. He ran a massive race in the Australian Cup last time, and was one of only two to close on the leaders in the straight at Flemington. He hasn’t really strung together any meaningful form to suggest he’s good enough to win a race of this stature, and is clearly very quirky but he showed plenty of promise to be last time to suggest he could outrun his odds under Michael Rodd.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/49782_hawk_island_ire.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]HAWK ISLAND – Fourth in this race last year under regular pilot Glyn Schofield, but he has since lost his way. His two recent performances have left little hope to suggest he can improve to take a hand in this race, and after a hopeless performance in the Ranvet Stakes last time, he looks to just be making up the numbers.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/111653_southern_speed_aus.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]SOUTHERN SPEED – Had a good campaign last autumn culminating in a big victory in the Caulfield Cup. She has returned in similar fettle this spring under regular pilot Craig Williams but is held by Manighar on both Ranvet Stakes and Australian Cup running’s. The extra distance here ought to suit this high-class racemare and she looks very likely to make the frame and gain some more prize money for connections.

[frame_left src=”http://www.ohracing.net/images/125547_scarlett_lady_nz.gif” href=”#”][/frame_left]SCARLETT LADY – Is (1/1) over this distance throughout her career but she didn’t have any real excuse when behind a couple of these in the Ranvet Stakes last time at this course, and she has it all to do under James McDonald in this company despite being a Queensland Oaks winner.

Verdict:
The more I look at this race the most I think the current price about AMERICAIN is well worth taking. He hasn’t really got any negatives against him other than possibly the drying ground condition, but he is a formidable opponent over this longer distance, links up seriously well with Gerald Mosse and will have improved heaps off the back of his comeback run in the Australian Cup last time. His current Betfair price of (2.72) I think represents very good value, and I’d have him tissued in at around 6/5. Manighar looks certain to be in the mix to follow him home after being revitalised by his new trainer, and it wouldn’t be out of the realms of possibility should Precedence run a big race for ‘Cup King’ Bart Cummings.

 

The race is due off at 5:25am BST.

Longshot Betting – 22nd March 2012

Wednesday’s selection travelled superbly and traded at a low of 4/1. He was still going well turning for home but when asked for his effort, he went out like a light and finished well-beaten. Soft ground could be the key to him, but he’s unlikely to get that for a while. He may be one to keep an eye out on anyway when dropping further in the handicap, which is likely given his finishing position. Continue reading “Longshot Betting – 22nd March 2012”

Longshot Betting – 16th March 2012

Thursday was again a profitable day for the blog with Salut Flo scoring nicely under a front-running ride, advised at 11/2 in the morning. The other selection in Gurtacrue sacrificed all chance with a poor round of jumping and probably needs further. But, I still think he stands in good stead of winning a big prize at some point in his career. The following two selections are slightly unoriginal, and one is at a price that I wouldn’t usually play at. Even so, they’re far too big a price regardless.  Continue reading “Longshot Betting – 16th March 2012”

Longshot Betting – 28th December 2011

Two selections from Leicester and Lingfield, priced at 10/1 and 6/1. Tuesday’s selection was too bad to be true, drifting to a huge price on Betfair and running no sort of race at all, beaten after about two fences. Back to the drawing board with that one. Wednesday’s selections both have good chances, but it will be the markets that could be the best indication to both their chances, lets hope they’re both on a going day! Continue reading “Longshot Betting – 28th December 2011”

Royal Bond Novices Hurdle

A race named after the Arthur Moore trained Royal Bond, a successful national hunt horse in the early 1980’s, the race was established in 1994 and has held Grade 1 status throughout its history. It is usually staged on the same afternoon as the Drinmore Novices’ Chase and the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle and is run over two miles.

A brief look back through the history of the race tells a story of some impressive champions have etched their name into the roll call of winners before moving onto bigger and better things.

Names like Istabraq, Moscow Flyer, Like A Butterfly, Hardy Eustace, Newmill and Hurricane Fly are amongst past winners and it appears to be a race both Noel Meade and Willie Mullins do rather well in.

This year we appear to have a fairly decent renewal of the race, with a couple of unexposed horses in there with the potential to improve further in the future.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/dylan.png” href=”#”]
Dylan Ross – Fell on his hurdling debut but made amends on his return to the track this campaign with a bloodless victory over Savello at Fairyhouse. The form was franked when third placed Reizovic bolted up two starts later. He appeared held last time by stable-mate Il Fenomeno and looked like he would appreciate going up slightly in trip. I don’t think he has the necessary class to win this race if I’m honest, and there are a couple more likely types in here which warrant more attention.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/galileo.png” href=”#”]
Galileo’s Choice – A very exciting son of Galileo who is unbeaten in just one outing over hurdles. He was pretty much all out to beat 125-rated hurdler Drumfire on that occasion, but his rival already had the benefit of experience over the obstacles and there was a case for Galileo’s Choice being quite sketchy over his jumps throughout. Since that run he seemed to improve further with a victory in a conditions race hammering Luska Lad (very good hurdler, and decent NHF horse) pretty much as he liked, before an all-the-way success in a Group 3 on the flat at Leopardstown in the Kilternan Stakes. The form of that race has worked out quite well since, with second-placed Look At Me finishing runner up in a Group 2 next time, before going on to win a Listed race. Third-placed Freedom has since gone on to Group 3 success at Dundalk and Northgate who finished some 6.5L back has since won a couple of conditions events. He is very much the dark horse in this.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/gigg.png” href=”#”]
Il Fenomeno – A horse with a lovely attitude who gives you his all in races. A group 3 winner in Italy, he has taken a while to warm to his task hurdling over in Ireland, but has come good after a couple of midfield efforts in Graded races with two victories on return this season. The form of his comeback victory is nothing special but the way in which he dealt with Dylan Ross last time at Navan suggested he has improved for that outing. I doubt he is up to the class of the main protagonists in here but he is as honest as the day is long, and he’ll be throwing the gauntlet two from home.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/sous.png” href=”#”]
Sous Les Cieux – Very much the talking horse in this race, and short priced favourite in the antepost market. In fairness it has every reason to be favourite based on what I saw last time out, and although he didn’t beat much he did it in facile fashion. He was third at Auteuil to his now stable-mate Sir Des Champs (a winner at Cheltenham off 134) who is now rated 143. He was only beaten 3.5L (getting 3lb in weight also). However one thing I have noticed with this likeable son of Robin Des Champs is that he doesn’t find much for pressure after travelling noticeably well through his races. That could be down to a breathing problem which has been rectified by a tongue-strap last time, but such was the poor quality of the opposition it is almost impossible to tell. If there is a problem with his breathing, or a problem ailing him it’ll be exposed against this better quality of opposition at the weekend.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/gigg.png” href=”#”]
Midnight Game – Made his hurdling debut over two and a half miles but didn’t appear to see out the trip from what I’ve watched. The drop back to two miles here will certainly suit and the fact he hails from the powerful Willie Mullins yard is a tip in itself that he holds this entry. However I struggle to see the necessary class needed in this horses locker to win this, and I think he’ll struggle.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/dazzlingsusie.png” href=”#”]
Dazzling Susie – Well beaten in a handicap and held on form by Miss Nomer, it is hard to imagine this daughter of Stowaway making her presence felt here, and not even Jessica Harrington can coax out enough improvement in this mare to see her make the frame, and looks overmatched against this quality of opposition.
[frame_right src=”http://www.ohracing.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/missnomer.png” href=”#”]
Miss Nomer – Gets weight from all her rivals here, and after being beat in a handicap hurdle off 109, improved to win a Grade 3 novice hurdle next time up. She has probably run to around her revised mark of 121 which wouldn’t be enough to win this, and is another which looks overmatched here albeit less so than Dazzling Susie.

Verdict:
My initial thought was to plump for the favourite before digging through the formlines, but I just can’t bring myself to back him at the very short price of 11/10. It could potentially be a moral if it has improved as much as they believe but I like to base my bets around what I have already seen on the racecourse these days, and with that in mind I think the 6/1 about Galileo’s Choice can’t be dismissed as on his flat form there is every possibility he could serve it up to these, providing Dermot Weld has got his jumping sorted.

[notification_box]1pt win Galileo’s Choice @ 6-1 with Boylesports and StanJames[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Preview – 5th November

Breeders Cup Marathon

The second night of the Breeders Cup meeting opens up with the Breeders Cup Marathon, a grade 2 event run over a mile and six furlongs on dirt. European horses have won two of three renewals and look to hold solid claims once more this time round.

Straight into the European challenge we go, and firstly we look at Harrison’s Cave, who has been beaten on all his tries on the Polytrack at Dundalk but has improved on the turf of late. The stable won this race with Man Of Iron two years ago but to my knowledge of the form and speed ratings, Harrisons Cave doesn’t have the ability to win at this sort of level, and it is unclear how he will handle dirt for the first time – although his half brother Golden Sword went well on a synthetic surface over in Dubai.

Andre Fabre has to be respected when sending horses to the Breeders Cup (4 wins and 11 places from 41 runners). Brigantin comes into this race off the back of a solid placing in the Prix du Cadran at the start of October. He has solid form with both Americain and Dunaden (Melbourne Cup winners) this season, and was the only horse to make up ground from the rear in a tactically run Prix Kergolay and his form can be marked up a notch for that. If he handles the dirt, and he certainly looks like he possibly will (Fabre is a very astute man) then he has the class to make some serious noise at a good price.

The final runner from Europe is the filly Meeznah, who comes into this race off the back of a solid effort at Ascot in Champions Day when fifth behind Dancing Rain over a mile and a half. She has been running solid figures all season and will enjoy the step back up to fourteen furlongs. It remains to be seen how she handles the dirt but she would be one with a massive chance providing she handles it, and is worth keeping in mind for the exotics.

Last year’s winner Eldaafer isn’t coming into this race with the same sharpness he was exhibiting this time last year and was well beaten behind Birdrun with no apparent excuse in the Brooklyn over a mile and a half at Belmont a few runs back. He benefitted from a rough run race last time and it’s difficult to envisage him winning again.

A. U. Miner was troubled in this race last year after coming into it off the back of a large BSF at Hawthorne the time prior, and looks to make amends this time round after a similarly large BSF last time out. Settled towards the rear he began to make ground on the field before running into a dead-end and losing all momentum 2.5F out, he dropped back to tenth before re-rallying under pressure to finish fourth (placed third) beaten only 3.75L by winner Eldaafer. He has excuses for his run last time (large figure) with the muddy track and the hot company encountered he still run a massive race to finish fifth behind Breeders Cup Classic hope Flat Out.

Cease is a lightly raced son of War Chant who looks like this sort of distance will be well within his compass. In good hands under Albert M Stall Jnr, he hasn’t hit its peak yet and any improvement and this runner will be a handful – any slowness in the dirt would be an advantage to this runner.

Giant Oak wasn’t good enough to win this race last year when getting a better trip through than A U Miner and I can’t see this horse winning this time round either.

Finally Pleasant Prince is my idea of the shock in the race, he has the ability to cause an upset and his positional speed will hold him in good stead over this longer distance. He shapes as though he’ll cope with it but he needs his races run at a true pace and I’m not sure he’ll get that in this race. His graded resume is on the thin side and his win last time came over a horse in Rail Trip who was crushed in the Whitney Stakes so although he could score here at double figure odds, he is too risky but could be one for the exotics.

This looks a tough renewal where the winner would be different every time you ran the race, but I think it is worth siding with previous form at the track here, and judging by the way A. U. MINER ran last time here over C&D suggests he was a very unlucky loser. He comes into this race off the back of a good BSF of 102, and looks likely to have a say in the finish. Of the remainder Brigantin appeals most, with possibly Meeznah and Cease fighting out third.

[notification_box]1pt win A. U. Miner @ 4-1 with Ladbrokes[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf

Run on the grass over a mile it is a race that was first run in 2007, and has this year been upgraded to Grade 1 status.

Europeans have fared well in this race, and in particular John Gosden who has saddled two winners from four renewals in the race; sadly he hasn’t got any entries this time round.

The American’s this year appear to rely on either State Of Play or Finale, but neither have done what the UK trained horses have done on speed figures this year. State Of Play is far too short at the price he is judging by his figures, and I’d rather have Finale over him but with that said it doesn’t look good enough to compete with the European horses.

The best chance America have of winning this race looks to lie with Majestic City who comes into this race off the back of a few good Beyer figures on dirt. His sire City Zip wins with approximately 16% with his turf starters, but I can’t help feel this colt has been handed quite a task facing a field of this calibre, going a mile for the first time on turf.

Wrote comes into this race off the back of a third-placed effort to Daddy Long Legs in the Royal Lodge (G2) at Newmarket last time. He had previously clocked a good speed figure when winning a handicap off a official rating of 88, and wasn’t in the right place at Newmarket last time, on a day where front-running up the far rail proved prevalent to winning results. He gets the lasix for the first time and the assistance of Ryan Moore and looks set to play a hand in the finish, but quite whether he has the class to win this race remains to be seen.

Caspar Netscher comes into this race off the back of an unlucky effort in the Middle Park at Newmarket when given a pathetic ride by Robert Winston. He lost ground at the start and ended up last behind a wall of horses, bobbing and weaving in and out like Lionel Messi does for Barcelona before finally getting a run and powering home to be beaten a length. He gets the assistance of Kieren Fallon who won on him at Newbury in the Mill Reef and if he can stay the trip and run a turn, he looks set to go close. A notable stat (according to Nick Mordin) is that Caspar Netscher would of been unbeaten on tracks without steep gradients had he not run into trouble at Newmarket and he remains on the shortlist.

Finally my selection FARRAAJ; who is bred to improve with age, ran second last time out in the Somerville Tattersall’s Stakes at Newmarket where the third finished second in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy next time out, and the fourth-placed Crusade won the Group 1 Middle Park on his next start. That form looks absolutely rock solid and this son of Dubai Destination has proven his ability to run round a turn judging by his performance at Warwick earlier in his career and gets the added bonus of lasix for the first time.

[notification_box]3pts win Farraaj @ 7-1 with Boylesports, William Hill[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Sprint (Dirt)

Won by some terrific horses in the past and none more so impressively than Big Drama last year from the front. Big Drama returns to the scene of his greatest triumph in a career that has spanned 11 wins from 18 starts so far.

Big Drama posted a bold gate-to-wire performance when running away with this race last year, racing three off the rail (rail was very much costly at the time) he led throughout and repelled all challengers as they served it up to him. He is only of the very few horses to have reached the 120-beyer plateau, and can make a big mid-race move if the situation warrants and is a worthy favourite ridden by Ramon Dominguez for the first time. The only worry I would have is that he missed his final prep for this race due to sickness, and that has to be a cause for concern just how tuned up he is.

Euroears comes into this race off the back of a disappointing effort in the Vosburgh but in all truth he lost all chance at the start in a race that suited being on the pace. His two runs around here have yielded two poor speed figures and he’ll need to improve plenty to take this race – that said he posted some impressive workout times at Santa Anita which suggests this son of Langfuhr looks ready to put in a massive run, and Bob Baffert knows what is required to win a race of this nature having won it three times already.

Giant Ryan comes here off the back of an incredible win-streak of six and is looking to make it seven here under Cornelio Velasquez. He was at an advantage when winning the Vosburgh from the front last time, and the horses that finished behind him that return here will have more of a say on a track that’ll be riding a lot fairer but he has to be respected. His workout round here over four furlongs last week was nothing other than fair and it is quite difficult to pinpoint his chances against the likes of the more proven types – his Beyer numbers suggest he’ll run a solid race though.

Hamazing Destiny has struggled to recapture his form of that run in this race last year when second to Big Drama but his record at the track has to be respected. He posted a solid workout here on the 24th October going 4f in 46.2 and posted a solid run when shuffled back before re-rallying in the Phoenix last time suggesting he is returning to peak form. If Robby Alborado can time his mid-race move to perfect he could yet have a say here at a big price – doubt he has the class to reverse form with Big Drama though.

Force Freeze comes into this race on a similar level of form to Giant Ryan, and finished second to that rival last time in the Vosburgh racing up handy. He drifted a little in the stretch and had the run of the race from where he was positioned but he ran a gallant race to finish a half length down at the wire. His Beyer numbers are decent but he just lacks the class to win a race of this nature I think.

Jackson Bend comes into this race after posting his best Beyer of his life when second to Uncle Mo in the Kelso at Belmont. Has improved in leaps and bounds as a four-year-old and comes here in rude health after a couple of big prior wins also. He has been working exceptionally at Saratoga in recent weeks and if he gets a quick pace to run at, he’s going to be very hard to stop under Corey Nakatani who is an absolute master at riding this race, with four wins to his name.

Apriority would hold every chance if returning to his early season form and holds claims of causing the upset here if doing so. He wasn’t seen to his best last time in a bias-aided Vosburgh and his only spin round here resulted in a game second a 100-Beyer to Akenite which would give him half a chance at massive odds.

Amazombie comes into this sharp and looks a massive threat to both Big Drama and Jackson Bend. His outside post position will suit his style of racing perfectly and gets the handling of veteran Mike Smith once again. He was held by Euroears though two starts ago in a race which should have suited where he was positioned, and he had the best sit in a race which had plenty of early pace in last time. Too short for me at 6s but wouldn’t be surprised if he went very close to winning it.

Finally my selection and I’m going for a bit of value here in AKENITE who has been racing with immense credit all year out wide, mostly against golden highways up the rail this season. He has important course winning distance when beaten Apriority in a good time in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) and tuned up for this with a cracking run at Keeneland last time finishing second. His third placing behind Jackson Bend reads well, given the golden rail up the inside helped propel that runner to victory and he represents significant value here at 16/1 and could be running over them late in the day under Javier Castellano. His recent workouts suggest he is beginning to reach his peak after being brought along slowly and is well positioned in three to take a pull in the early stages.

[notification_box]1pt each-way Akenite @ 16-1 with StanJames[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Turf Sprint

A recent addition to the Breeders Cup, the Turf sprint started in 2008 and started out at a distance of six and a half furlongs. It remained at this distance the next year but has since dropped back to five furlongs, as Churchill Downs only conduct turf sprints over five furlongs.

The defending champion Chamberlain Bridge returns this year in a similar vein of form after finishing a close-up third after a mid-summer break last time. He has however drawn an outside post in box 14 which should prove somewhat tricky to overcome one would of thought. That said he is a true five furlong horse which can’t be said for many of these, and he may have the tactical speed to get him out of trouble.

Havelock comes into this having won his last four turf races for trainer Darrin Miller. What has been impressive with his performances is that he has won with various running styles, proving he is tactically versatile, which will hold him in good stead here. He has the excellent Robby Alborado on his back once more and looks a leading contender to take this.

California Flag has recently regained winning form and won this race two years ago. That was over 6.5F though and he was well beaten in this race last year despite having plenty of pace in his locker. He has a better draw this time round though and could be returning to that sort of form but he has too many questions to answer for me.

Rapport makes her debut on turf and has to find a few lengths on the speed figures, and her sire only has around 8% winners from first-timers on turf which has to rate as a negative.

Country Day gets a rematch with Perfect Officer and Havelock after his third placing in the Grade 3 Woodford at Keeneland when last seen. That said I can’t really make a case for him from his outside post in box 11, and although could run well – isn’t one for me.

Camp Victory has been running well all season against the top-synthetic and dirt sprinters and posted a few triple-digit Beyer figures on the spin before bouncing last time out on turf. He has the potential to rebound back to that sort of form though and remains interesting in what looks an open race.

Broken Dreams is a mare in form and comes into this race sharp after a few mid-90 Beyer’s and she shortens up to 5F here. I feel that trip isn’t really guaranteed to suit her and she might get outpaced at a vital stage here before keeping on well.

Perfect Officer comes into this race after two solid places efforts in the Turf Monster and Woodford and had Havelock in-front of him most recently. He has a decent post here in stall 4 and I can see him being thereabouts at the finish sitting just a couple lengths off the lead throughout.

Holiday For Kitten doesn’t have the Beyer’s to suggest she’ll be good enough to have a say in this, and Grand Adventure will struggle to keep up and hold that inside rail from his pitch in the 1 box, so he can be left out too.

Great Attack has won over this distance and looks likely to contribute to the pace, but is held by a few of these on the form lines and will probably just drop out of it inside the final furlong.

Regally Ready is 2-2 on this track here at Churchill Downs and comes into the race on the back of a 94-Beyer win of the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes last time out beating the highly rated Bated Breath on ground probably softer than ideal for the both of them. He has the assistance for Corey Nakatani from what looks a good draw in stall 8, and he can race on the pace and be thereabouts at the line – solid chance, probable winner.

Caracortado drops back to 5F here for the first time after doing majority of his racing over a mile in the last couple of years. That said he obviously showed enough pace to start out over four furlongs, and has also won a six furlong race in his time so maybe he isn’t a forlorn hope. He will drop back from an outside position and will be finishing fastest of all under Joe Talamo but it’s going to be tough going pegging back the pace around here and he’ll most likely run on into a place – class angle in the race.

Hoofit looks an interesting runner for Graham Motion and this New Zealand import has adapted well to the American style of racing notching up 2-2 on synthetics since his arrival. He readily accounted for an allowance field at Presque –isle Downs before gamely winning a Grade 3 at Keeneland defeating my Breeders Cup Sprint fancy Akenite by the minimum distance. That form looks solid and providing he is ridden forward from his draw in stall 7, the return to turf could extend his winning streak to three under veteran Edgar Prado.

In what looks a very open race, the most likely winner for me seems to be Regally Ready who has an excellent record around here, posted a big win at Woodbine last time and has a good draw but his price doesn’t do too much for me. Therefore given my allegiances in the Breeders Cup Dirt Sprint I have to side with Hoofit at almost treble the price, and hope he can run into the frame under Edgar Prado – his numbers suggest he isn’t a forlorn hope in this.

[notification_box]0.5pt each-way Hoofit @ 14-1 with Totesport, Betfred, SportingBet[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile

The fourth race on Breeders Cup Saturday sees them go a mile on the dirt for the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile. Into its fifth year it was won last year by the Jerry Hollendorfer trained Dakota Phone and no three-year-old has won in four runnings so far.

Decent horses like Mastercraftsman, Midshipman, and the Nick Zito trained Morning Line have tried and failed, but this year it looks a stronger bunch of three-year-olds attempting to take the crown for the first time.

The Factor heads the field in stall 1, and the Bob Baffert trained three-year-old looks set to go forward from his inside position. He expectedly weakened after setting a furious pace in the Ancient Title last time and has proven he can run this sort of trip based on his Triple Crown from back in the spring. He has been working extremely well in the mornings according to his times (a lot of Baffert’s seem to be burning up the gallops). The problem here is he faces five habitual front-runners and I can see it developing into a pace duel, whereby he’ll likely fade out of things late on.

This year’s Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford comes here on the back of second placing in the Indiana Derby last time, and drops back to one-turn for the first time since his maiden success. According to his pace figures he had the run of the race out in front last time and should prove vulnerable in the closing stages if blazing off in-front and getting involved in a pace duel.

Tapizar returned to rout a field off an 8 month break at Belmont last time, which included older horses and although he has won round here tracking the pace his main preference and style is all about speed and he looks another likely to get involved in a tussle up-front setting it up for the closers.

Tres Borrachos comes here winless on six attempts on dirt, and isn’t the force of old and will struggle to get involved here. Another likely to lie up with the pace, and help set searching fractions.

Wilburn comes into this race off the back of a 103-Beyer romp when accounting for Shackleford in the Indiana Derby last time, and his late-closing style looks perfectly suited to the makeup of this field. He is a late maturing sort who is running bigger numbers with every start, and most importantly comes into this race bang in form where many of his rivals are either out of it, or likely to go too quick out in front – big contender, considering he has showcased his ability to go equally as well around one-turn at Santa Anita first time back.

Irrefutable looks equipped to go well here, and the Bob Baffert second string gets the services of Rafael Bejarano in the plate who rode him to a solid second in the Ancient Title last time out. His performance pattern seems to peak off a rest of 38 days or more (thanks Nick Mordin) and runs off a shorter period here for the fifth time in a row, and has lost his last four.

Jersey Town was no match for Uncle Mo and Jackson Bend last time, but ran a massive Beyer over this configuration when winning the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct late last year. He has had limited starts since thanks to an ankle injury picked up winning that race (need surgery after) but his recent work in New York suggests he is returning to form and could be one for the exotics – place claims.

Next up is Caleb’s Posse who has been running some quick numbers over one-turn this season, admittedly over shorter distances than the mile he will encounter on Saturday. He was stretched in the Indiana Derby last time behind Wilburn and Shackleford over two-turns and the drop back in trip will work in his favour. Looks to have plenty of pace to run at and the way he has run over seven furlongs at Saratoga when beating Uncle Mo suggests he’ll be closing fast and late, and is one they all have to fear – solid win chance.

Finally my selection TRAPPE SHOT who returned from a break to run fourth in a front end bias-aided Vosburgh last time. He posted an excellent Beyer over a mile and sixteenth at Monmouth last year before dropping back to sprinting trips and strictly on the figures holds an advantage over the field. He will also be advantaged by the mass of pace in the race, and he’ll be able to close them down late under John Velasquez. He has a record of 6 wins from 8 between 6F and 8.5F and has clearly been aimed and prepped with this race in mind.

[notification_box]3pts win Trappe Shot @ 5-1 with Boylesports, Coral, BlueSQ[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Turf

A race which let’s face it, should fall to the Europeans here. We have farmed the race in recent years winning 10 of the last 12 renewals of this race and once again we look to have a strong hand for this renewal.

Won last year by Dangerous Midge in what now looks a poor renewal, he has beaten one rival home in four starts since and doesn’t line up here to defend his crown.

Midday goes for this race instead of the F&M Turf, and I think they should have sent her there instead really. She has shown enough ability to mix it with the boys in the past, and her run in the Champion Stakes at Ascot (broke the track record) reads well in the context of this race but I feel there are other who last out this trip a little better than this daughter of Oasis Dream and she looks more likely to fill the place.

St Nicholas Abbey comes here off a solid effort in the Arc when finishing fifth behind Danedream in course record time. He sat close to the pace throughout and took up the lead at the three furlong pole before being edged out of it late on. He is drawn on the inside here under Joseph O’Brien and one would expect them to sit very close to the pace on ground probably quicker than ideal – he gets the lasix first time though and the 2F straight here could play into his advantage but he is too hit and miss for my liking, but remains unbeaten on left handed tracks.

Sea Moon is pretty much the forgotten horse in here I think after an awesome performance to win the Voltigeur and was given a pathetic ride by Olivier Peslier in the St Leger (which can be ignored) when last seen. He has been lightly campaigned this season and has the benefit of Ryan Moore riding and lasix for the first time – major shout with the Stoute yard creeping back into form.

Sarafina is clearly the form horse in the race, but those close to her have the benefit of lasix for the first time whereas her trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre elects not to use the medication on his wonderful filly and that could prove a costly mistake. She is unbeaten in two starts on left-handed tracks and has a lethal turn of foot should the race prove tactical and certainly has a favourites chance.

Await The Dawn almost died after his run in the Juddmonte International at York in August and hasn’t been seen since. Aidan O’Brien believes he is more of a Classic horse but runs him here instead, I think this is more a fact finding mission with a view to next year but he gets a combination of lasix and Julien Leparoux for the first time and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Deans Kitten looks the best of the Americans based on that running on second to Cape Blanco in the Turf Classic at Belmont, and although Cape Blanco is an admirable and durable sort, he wouldn’t be in the same league as the likes of Sarafina and Midday over in Europe.

In what looks a tough race to decipher it very much looks down to what sort of pace will be on offer and from what I can read it looks like being a very tactical affair. Which means I have to side with SARAFINA whose tactical speed gives her a big advantage over her rivals and she is also the class horse in the field – slight worry about the lack of lasix though, and would rate Sea Moon as a potent threat?

[notification_box]1pt win Sarafina @ 11-4 with SportingBet and BlueSQ[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Juvenile (Dirt)

Run over a mile and sixteenth the Breeders Cup Juvenile is the championship end of season race for two-year-old colts and geldings.

Some brilliant horses have won this race over the years, but none more so impressively than Arazi did when winning back in 1991.

The European challenge sees both Crusade and Daddy Long Legs attempt to win the race for Aidan O’Brien after both were success in group company over here in the UK last time out.

Daddy Long Legs was successful in landing the Royal Lodge at Newmarket on his latest start with an all-the-way success. He is bred to handle the dirt surface which he tries for the first time, and the way in which he has run his races on turf thus far it isn’t difficult to think he could be an even better animal on dirt. He gets the services of Ryan Moore in the saddle and looks likely to do better out of the pair.

Crusade a winner of the Middle Park (G1) on his latest start and although bred to adapt to the surface (his dam won a G3 at Saratoga, and sire won this race as a juvenile) he has struggled to last out seven furlongs on both tries at it on turf. The longer distance here and the tiring dirt surface will surely work against him and I can’t see him lasting out the trip.

Drill was no match for Creative Cause in the Norfolk last time on dirt, but had previously beaten that rival on synthetic and could potentially have bounced after that effort when posting a big 90-beyer. Another interesting point of note is that Bob Baffert has a 45% strike-rate when making an equipment change, and he takes the blinkers off Drill for this run.

Hansen has put together back-to-back demolition jobs over his field on his two runs to date, but it remains questionable over what he has actually beaten. He was ridden out to the line on his latest win (time wasn’t great) and I don’t think he is as good as people believe he is, and this is his first try on conventional dirt (his full brother has been kept to synthetic and turf).

Dullahan was beaten by wide margins on his last two tries on dirt, but improved out of all recognition back on synthetic and turf. So the switch back to dirt here is somewhat puzzling given he recently won a grade 1 and has plenty of questions to come forward and answer.

Union Rags come into this on the back of a demolition job in the Champagne Stakes and holds the best speed figures out of all of these on what we have seen so far, and therefore ranks a worthy favourite. Not many horses can overcome the type of trip he had when winning that race on his latest start, and he had already showed signs of what he could do at Saratoga on his previous outing. Michael Matz is fully capable of preparing a horse for such a race and this lovely son of Dixie Union has everything going for him.

A potential outsider that could have say in proceedings is Take Charge Indy who tries dirt for the first time after a string of decent efforts on synthetics. He raced far too close to the ridiculous early pace in the Breeders’ Futurity last time at Keeneland and can be forgiven that run, but if we go back to his two Beyer’s he has achieved on synthetics he has the potential to go close if taking to the dirt (his dam won $2.4m on it) and is by A. P. Indy which suggests he will take to it – and at around 40/1 is my idea of a roughie with potential to get in the frame.

The one I think that is the value play in this race though is CREATIVE CAUSE. By the excellent Giant’s Causeway he really looked to thrive on conventional dirt last time after a string of solid Polytrack efforts. He would of been unbeaten but for being desperately unlucky when bumped around in the Futurity when making his effort (only beaten 1L). The longer trip seemed more to his liking last time out and I think he’ll go close here under Joel Rosario.

[notification_box]1.5pts win Creative Cause @ 5-1 with Totesport, Betfred, PaddyPower
0.25pts each-way Take Charge Indy @ 40-1 with William Hill[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Mile Turf

Won for the last three years by wonder-mare Goldikova who bids to go one better and make it four in a row. She has won the most group 1’s of any horse ever in Europe (currently 14) and is looking to make that 15 at the weekend.

Goldikova is such a magnificent animal. Her ability to quicken makes her almost unbeatable when running around a bend over a mile. The ground looks like being perfect for her, her speed figures suggest she is as good as ever and her trainer Freddy Head suggests she comes here in better form than when winning last year – that’s a big statement and I for one believe him. I’d love to see her win but she offers no value at around 9/5 and thus I have to look elsewhere.

Strong Suit comes here off the back of two ultra-impressive routs of decent fields over seven furlongs. His only try came in a slowly-run mile at Chantilly in the Prix Jean Prat during the height of summer, but he looks an altogether different animal now with more experience under his belt. If he stays the trip (can’t see why not) then he has massive claims of winning this under Richard Hughes and he’ll get a nice pace to shoot at with Sidney’s Candy out in front.

Gio Ponti has won 7 times out of 9 at trips less than nine furlongs when the ground is firm and one of those defeats came to Goldikova last year in this very race. He has been running with credit on ground softer than ideal all summer, and comes into this race off the back of a win on his preferred ground last time. He clearly remains a threat in Goldikova’s bid to win again but is just as likely to find one or two too good again.

Courageous Cat has been improving lately and has posted three triple-digit Beyer’s for the first time in his career of late. He comes into the race in better form than when second to Goldikova in 2009 (missed the race in 2010) but I’m slightly worried by the way he tired at Woodbine last time given the longer home-stretch here at Churchill Downs, and if he sits to close to Sidney’s Candy, that could once again be an issue.

Zoffany has questions to answer after some below-par efforts but would have chances on the pick of his form. He gets the lasix for the first time here, and the assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle.

Court Vision and Get Stormy both look outclassed at this level as does Compliance Officer who has the slowest speed figures out of these.

Byword ran a massive time at Longchamp in winning the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend, and comes into this race in solid form. He has proven versatile over a mile to ten furlongs over the past few seasons and looks sure to go well again here. Quite whether he has the tactical speed around a turn over this trip remains to be seen but I can see him hitting the frame with a late effort.

Jeranimo broke a six-race losing streak last time when winning the Oak Tree Mile last time, and the son of Congaree comes into this race with the joint best last time out Beyer of 108 (with Byword) for that success. He seems to struggle though in large fields, and often runs into traffic problems and this is the largest field has competed in to date – not for me.

Mr Commons ran second to Jeranimo last time earning himself a 106-Beyer and has really improving his form of late on the clock. He has a big late finishing effort and the better pace and larger field on offer here should play to his strengths and I can see him finishing with a rattle down the outside under veteran Mike Smith. The worrying thing is only 2 from 42 American three-year-olds have won this race the first being War Front and then Lure, both had previously won graded races – whereas Mr Commons has been beaten in all his graded runs. That said stats are there to be broken and he’s really on an upward curve and I can see him making a bold bid at 25-1, and is worth a small cover bet.

Finally my selection TURALLURE who comes into this race off the back of two good figure successes. He has posted three triple-digit Beyer’s in his last four outings (bumped on other run) and as Nick Mordin points out in the Weekender his form figures when the race leader runs the first half mile in 48.4sec or less reads (111111) off of paces slower than this they read (52833). He hasn’t been helped with his draw in the widest position of all in box 13, but this strong-finisher should be able to take back early and cope with the ground loss before winding up with a big late effort down the outside into the stretch. He looks to have plenty of pace to run at with Sidney’s Candy in the field, along with Courageous Cat so the chances of him getting a quick run first half mile look likely. He seemed to relish the long straight at Woodbine when beating Courageous Cat last time, and he gets a similar length (slightly longer) straight to run at this time – at around 14/1 he rates outstanding value, and Julien Leparoux (who is 3-3 on him) retains the ride.

That said though I certainly wouldn’t begrudge Goldikova winning this race for the fourth time, and I actually hope she does. Turallure is an great value alternative though and worth keeping on side.

[notification_box]2.5pts each-way Turallure @ 14-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Ladbrokes[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Classic (Dirt)

The final race of the Breeders Cup 2011 meeting and what an excellent renewal of the Breeders Cup Classic it appears to be.

The Classic is considered by many to be the premier thoroughbred horse race of the year in the U.S., and for 2008 only the Dubai World Cup surpassed its $5 million purse. Often, the winner goes on to win U.S. Horse of the Year honours, as have the four winners of the race between 2004 and 2007—respectively Ghostzapper, Saint Liam, Invasor, and Curlin. Due to the extremely high quality of horses in the event, the race is notoriously hard to predict. One notable example of an underdog winning the Classic is the victory of Arcangues in 1993. This was the biggest upset in Breeders’ Cup history and his $269.20 payoff for a $2 wager remains a Breeders’ Cup record. [information gathered from Wikipedia].

Won last year by Blame and Garrett Gomez who arguably was lucky to beat Zenyatta who endured a nightmare passage through into running second and beaten for the first time in her illustrious career.

This year we have another excellent filly bidding to win the classic in Havre De Grace, and she has posted 8 triple-digit Beyer numbers in her last 10 runs (97 and 99 her two below) and has proved herself to be absolutely top class. She delivered a hammer-blow to the colts when winning the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga two runs ago, including Flat Out and comes into this race at the top of her game. Her trained Larry Jones says she is the best he has ever had, and he has had horses like Hard Spun and Eight Belles through his books in previous seasons, so that tells you how highly this filly is regarded.

Prayer For Belief won’t be running and has been scratched due to fever.

Flat Out has looked like he’d appreciate a step up to this sort of trip when staying on for second in Grade 1’s behind Tizway and Havre De Grace and confirmed that chain of thought when running away with the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and has posted four triple-digit Beyer’s in succession. He has been training splendidly since his arrival at Churchill Downs but it is worth noting his two runs here have yielded unplaced efforts – that said he is a much better horse nowadays.

Drosselmeyer won the Belmont Stakes last season but has lost all other attempts at graded races since. Stayed on into second behind Flat Out last time but lacks the tactical pace to get involved in this sort of race, and would have been better equipped in the Breeders Cup Marathon.

Ruler On Ice is another who is all stamina, and he also won the Belmont Stakes like Drosselmeyer did a year before him. He has since run races with promise after getting outpaced over ten and nine furlongs, and if he gets a fast pace here he could run into a place out wide – but I don’t expect him too.

One I really like is the Aidan O’Brien trained So You Think, and he attempts to win the Breeders Cup Classic with his first ever start on a dirt surface. The sheer size of him suggests he’ll go well on dirt, and the way he continually grinds out fast sectionals during his races and that should stand him in good stead here. He has good form at Ascot (a track which favours polytrack form) and his time last time out when second in the Champion Stakes was fantastic and puts him top on speed figures here.

Ice Box ran second over C&D last year in the Kentucky Derby but has completely fallen apart since. He finished last of seven behind Flat Out last time and I can’t see any reason why he would be good enough to get involved in this.

Rattlesnake Bridge has yet to win a graded race and is held by both Stay Thirsty and Honour and Serve on form, and is hard to imagine good enough to have a say in this.

The Bob Baffert trained Game On Dude appears to have got his act together on figures this year and has posted a couple of triple-digit numbers in his last three starts and goes well fresh. Taking that into account though I doubt he’ll be good enough to win this but could run on into around fourth or fifth under Chantal Sutherland.

Stay Thirsty is looking to do something no horse in history has ever done, and that’s win the Travers Stakes and Breeders Cup Classic. Seventeen horses have tried, including some of the very best three-year-olds we have seen and they have all lost – which suggests to me Stay Thirsty has a monumental task on his hands and should be passed over on this occasion.

Next up is Headache who comes here as pretty much a horse-for-course having accumulated 3 wins from 7 round here. He won the G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup over C&D in game fashion on his latest start but his Beyer figures suggest he has plenty to find with these and looks another making up the numbers.

Uncle Mo tops the list on raw-speed alone when winning the Kelso Handicap over a mile at Belmont when last seen, but has yet to prove he can stretch out to ten furlongs he will face here. If he performs to that sort of level he will win this under the handling of John Velasquez but I’m not so sure can last out against top class opposition such as these. He was sick before the Derby, and only recently it has been documented just how ill he was, so for Todd Pletcher and his team to get him back better than ever is some feat – solid chance if stays.

To Honour And Serve has developed well lately, and has finally returned to the sort of form shown as a juvenile last backend of late. The way he won the Pennsylvania Derby last time with absolute ease (beating Ruler Of Ice) suggests he is still on an upward curve and would be foolish to write him off and he could easily do best of the three-year-olds in this race, and is overpriced at 14/1.

After much deliberation between Flat Out and SO YOU THINK it has to be the latter I go for. He has proven himself countless times on the clock and that run in the Champion Stakes last time out was very impressive. The way he just continually bangs out solid sections with his devouring stride suggests he’ll cope well with the switch to turf, and he gets the blinkers back on for the first time since his Cox Plate win in 2009. If So You Think fails to fire on the dirt, then it could be left to Flat Out to land the spoils.

[notification_box]1pt win So You Think @ 5-1 with Ladbrokes, BlueSQ, WilliamHill[/notification_box]

 

Breeders Cup Classic (Dirt)

The final race of the Breeders Cup 2011 meeting and what an excellent renewal of the Breeders Cup Classic it appears to be.

The Classic is considered by many to be the premier thoroughbred horse race of the year in the U.S., and for 2008 only the Dubai World Cup surpassed its $5 million purse. Often, the winner goes on to win U.S. Horse of the Year honours, as have the four winners of the race between 2004 and 2007—respectively Ghostzapper, Saint Liam, Invasor, and Curlin. Due to the extremely high quality of horses in the event, the race is notoriously hard to predict. One notable example of an underdog winning the Classic is the victory of Arcangues in 1993. This was the biggest upset in Breeders’ Cup history and his $269.20 payoff for a $2 wager remains a Breeders’ Cup record. [information gathered from Wikipedia].

Won last year by Blame and Garrett Gomez who arguably was lucky to beat Zenyatta who endured a nightmare passage through into running second and beaten for the first time in her illustrious career.

This year we have another excellent filly bidding to win the classic in Havre De Grace, and she has posted 8 triple-digit Beyer numbers in her last 10 runs (97 and 99 her two below) and has proved herself to be absolutely top class. She delivered a hammer-blow to the colts when winning the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga two runs ago, including Flat Out and comes into this race at the top of her game. Her trained Larry Jones says she is the best he has ever had, and he has had horses like Hard Spun and Eight Belles through his books in previous seasons, so that tells you how highly this filly is regarded.

Prayer For Belief won’t be running and has been scratched due to fever.

Flat Out has looked like he’d appreciate a step up to this sort of trip when staying on for second in Grade 1’s behind Tizway and Havre De Grace and confirmed that chain of thought when running away with the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and has posted four triple-digit Beyer’s in succession. He has been training splendidly since his arrival at Churchill Downs but it is worth noting his two runs here have yielded unplaced efforts – that said he is a much better horse nowadays.

Drosselmeyer won the Belmont Stakes last season but has lost all other attempts at graded races since. Stayed on into second behind Flat Out last time but lacks the tactical pace to get involved in this sort of race, and would have been better equipped in the Breeders Cup Marathon.

Ruler On Ice is another who is all stamina, and he also won the Belmont Stakes like Drosselmeyer did a year before him. He has since run races with promise after getting outpaced over ten and nine furlongs, and if he gets a fast pace here he could run into a place out wide – but I don’t expect him too.

One I really like is the Aidan O’Brien trained So You Think, and he attempts to win the Breeders Cup Classic with his first ever start on a dirt surface. The sheer size of him suggests he’ll go well on dirt, and the way he continually grinds out fast sectionals during his races and that should stand him in good stead here. He has good form at Ascot (a track which favours polytrack form) and his time last time out when second in the Champion Stakes was fantastic and puts him top on speed figures here.

Ice Box ran second over C&D last year in the Kentucky Derby but has completely fallen apart since. He finished last of seven behind Flat Out last time and I can’t see any reason why he would be good enough to get involved in this.

Rattlesnake Bridge has yet to win a graded race and is held by both Stay Thirsty and Honour and Serve on form, and is hard to imagine good enough to have a say in this.

The Bob Baffert trained Game On Dude appears to have got his act together on figures this year and has posted a couple of triple-digit numbers in his last three starts and goes well fresh. Taking that into account though I doubt he’ll be good enough to win this but could run on into around fourth or fifth under Chantal Sutherland.

Stay Thirsty is looking to do something no horse in history has ever done, and that’s win the Travers Stakes and Breeders Cup Classic. Seventeen horses have tried, including some of the very best three-year-olds we have seen and they have all lost – which suggests to me Stay Thirsty has a monumental task on his hands and should be passed over on this occasion.

Next up is Headache who comes here as pretty much a horse-for-course having accumulated 3 wins from 7 round here. He won the G2 Hawthorne Gold Cup over C&D in game fashion on his latest start but his Beyer figures suggest he has plenty to find with these and looks another making up the numbers.

Uncle Mo tops the list on raw-speed alone when winning the Kelso Handicap over a mile at Belmont when last seen, but has yet to prove he can stretch out to ten furlongs he will face here. If he performs to that sort of level he will win this under the handling of John Velasquez but I’m not so sure can last out against top class opposition such as these. He was sick before the Derby, and only recently it has been documented just how ill he was, so for Todd Pletcher and his team to get him back better than ever is some feat – solid chance if stays.

To Honour And Serve has developed well lately, and has finally returned to the sort of form shown as a juvenile last backend of late. The way he won the Pennsylvania Derby last time with absolute ease (beating Ruler Of Ice) suggests he is still on an upward curve and would be foolish to write him off and he could easily do best of the three-year-olds in this race, and is overpriced at 14/1.

After much deliberation between Flat Out and SO YOU THINK it has to be the latter I go for. He has proven himself countless times on the clock and that run in the Champion Stakes last time out was very impressive. The way he just continually bangs out solid sections with his devouring stride suggests he’ll cope well with the switch to turf, and he gets the blinkers back on for the first time since his Cox Plate win in 2009. If So You Think fails to fire on the dirt, then it could be left to Flat Out to land the spoils.

[notification_box]1pt win So You Think @ 5-1 with Ladbrokes, BlueSQ, WilliamHill[/notification_box]

Breeders Cup Mile (Turf)

Won for the last three years by wonder-mare Goldikova who bids to go one better and make it four in a row. She has won the most group 1’s of any horse ever in Europe (currently 14) and is looking to make that 15 at the weekend.

Goldikova is such a magnificent animal. Her ability to quicken makes her almost unbeatable when running around a bend over a mile. The ground looks like being perfect for her, her speed figures suggest she is as good as ever and her trainer Freddy Head suggests she comes here in better form than when winning last year – that’s a big statement and I for one believe him. I’d love to see her win but she offers no value at around 9/5 and thus I have to look elsewhere.

Strong Suit comes here off the back of two ultra-impressive routs of decent fields over seven furlongs. His only try came in a slowly-run mile at Chantilly in the Prix Jean Prat during the height of summer, but he looks an altogether different animal now with more experience under his belt. If he stays the trip (can’t see why not) then he has massive claims of winning this under Richard Hughes and he’ll get a nice pace to shoot at with Sidney’s Candy out in front.

Gio Ponti has won 7 times out of 9 at trips less than nine furlongs when the ground is firm and one of those defeats came to Goldikova last year in this very race. He has been running with credit on ground softer than ideal all summer, and comes into this race off the back of a win on his preferred ground last time. He clearly remains a threat in Goldikova’s bid to win again but is just as likely to find one or two too good again.

Courageous Cat has been improving lately and has posted three triple-digit Beyer’s for the first time in his career of late. He comes into the race in better form than when second to Goldikova in 2009 (missed the race in 2010) but I’m slightly worried by the way he tired at Woodbine last time given the longer home-stretch here at Churchill Downs, and if he sits to close to Sidney’s Candy, that could once again be an issue.

Zoffany has questions to answer after some below-par efforts but would have chances on the pick of his form. He gets the lasix for the first time here, and the assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle.

Court Vision and Get Stormy both look outclassed at this level as does Compliance Officer who has the slowest speed figures out of these.

Byword ran a massive time at Longchamp in winning the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend, and comes into this race in solid form. He has proven versatile over a mile to ten furlongs over the past few seasons and looks sure to go well again here. Quite whether he has the tactical speed around a turn over this trip remains to be seen but I can see him hitting the frame with a late effort.

Jeranimo broke a six-race losing streak last time when winning the Oak Tree Mile last time, and the son of Congaree comes into this race with the joint best last time out Beyer of 108 (with Byword) for that success. He seems to struggle though in large fields, and often runs into traffic problems and this is the largest field has competed in to date – not for me.

Mr Commons ran second to Jeranimo last time earning himself a 106-Beyer and has really improving his form of late on the clock. He has a big late finishing effort and the better pace and larger field on offer here should play to his strengths and I can see him finishing with a rattle down the outside under veteran Mike Smith. The worrying thing is only 2 from 42 American three-year-olds have won this race the first being War Front and then Lure, both had previously won graded races – whereas Mr Commons has been beaten in all his graded runs. That said stats are there to be broken and he’s really on an upward curve and I can see him making a bold bid at 25-1, and is worth a small cover bet.

Finally my selection TURALLURE who comes into this race off the back of two good figure successes. He has posted three triple-digit Beyer’s in his last four outings (bumped on other run) and as Nick Mordin points out in the Weekender his form figures when the race leader runs the first half mile in 48.4sec or less reads (111111) off of paces slower than this they read (52833). He hasn’t been helped with his draw in the widest position of all in box 13, but this strong-finisher should be able to take back early and cope with the ground loss before winding up with a big late effort down the outside into the stretch. He looks to have plenty of pace to run at with Sidney’s Candy in the field, along with Courageous Cat so the chances of him getting a quick run first half mile look likely. He seemed to relish the long straight at Woodbine when beating Courageous Cat last time, and he gets a similar length (slightly longer) straight to run at this time – at around 14/1 he rates outstanding value, and Julien Leparoux (who is 3-3 on him) retains the ride.

That said though I certainly wouldn’t begrudge Goldikova winning this race for the fourth time, and I actually hope she does. Turallure is an great value alternative though and worth keeping on side.

[notification_box]2.5pts each-way Turallure @ 14-1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Ladbrokes[/notification_box]
 

Breeders Cup Juvenile (Dirt)

Run over a mile and sixteenth the Breeders Cup Juvenile is the championship end of season race for two-year-old colts and geldings.

Some brilliant horses have won this race over the years, but none more so impressively than Arazi did when winning back in 1991.

The European challenge sees both Crusade and Daddy Long Legs attempt to win the race for Aidan O’Brien after both were success in group company over here in the UK last time out.

Daddy Long Legs was successful in landing the Royal Lodge at Newmarket on his latest start with an all-the-way success. He is bred to handle the dirt surface which he tries for the first time, and the way in which he has run his races on turf thus far it isn’t difficult to think he could be an even better animal on dirt. He gets the services of Ryan Moore in the saddle and looks likely to do better out of the pair.

Crusade a winner of the Middle Park (G1) on his latest start and although bred to adapt to the surface (his dam won a G3 at Saratoga, and sire won this race as a juvenile) he has struggled to last out seven furlongs on both tries at it on turf. The longer distance here and the tiring dirt surface will surely work against him and I can’t see him lasting out the trip.

Drill was no match for Creative Cause in the Norfolk last time on dirt, but had previously beaten that rival on synthetic and could potentially have bounced after that effort when posting a big 90-beyer. Another interesting point of note is that Bob Baffert has a 45% strike-rate when making an equipment change, and he takes the blinkers off Drill for this run.

Hansen has put together back-to-back demolition jobs over his field on his two runs to date, but it remains questionable over what he has actually beaten. He was ridden out to the line on his latest win (time wasn’t great) and I don’t think he is as good as people believe he is, and this is his first try on conventional dirt (his full brother has been kept to synthetic and turf).

Dullahan was beaten by wide margins on his last two tries on dirt, but improved out of all recognition back on synthetic and turf. So the switch back to dirt here is somewhat puzzling given he recently won a grade 1 and has plenty of questions to come forward and answer.

Union Rags come into this on the back of a demolition job in the Champagne Stakes and holds the best speed figures out of all of these on what we have seen so far, and therefore ranks a worthy favourite. Not many horses can overcome the type of trip he had when winning that race on his latest start, and he had already showed signs of what he could do at Saratoga on his previous outing. Michael Matz is fully capable of preparing a horse for such a race and this lovely son of Dixie Union has everything going for him.

A potential outsider that could have say in proceedings is Take Charge Indy who tries dirt for the first time after a string of decent efforts on synthetics. He raced far too close to the ridiculous early pace in the Breeders’ Futurity last time at Keeneland and can be forgiven that run, but if we go back to his two Beyer’s he has achieved on synthetics he has the potential to go close if taking to the dirt (his dam won $2.4m on it) and is by A. P. Indy which suggests he will take to it – and at around 40/1 is my idea of a roughie with potential to get in the frame.

The one I think that is the value play in this race though is CREATIVE CAUSE. By the excellent Giant’s Causeway he really looked to thrive on conventional dirt last time after a string of solid Polytrack efforts. He would of been unbeaten but for being desperately unlucky when bumped around in the Futurity when making his effort (only beaten 1L). The longer trip seemed more to his liking last time out and I think he’ll go close here under Joel Rosario.

[notification_box]1.5pts win Creative Cause @ 5-1 with Totesport, Betfred, PaddyPower
0.25pts each-way Take Charge Indy @ 40-1 with William Hill[/notification_box]


Breeders Cup Turf

A race which let’s face it, should fall to the Europeans here. We have farmed the race in recent years winning 10 of the last 12 renewals of this race and once again we look to have a strong hand for this renewal.

Won last year by Dangerous Midge in what now looks a poor renewal, he has beaten one rival home in four starts since and doesn’t line up here to defend his crown.

Midday goes for this race instead of the F&M Turf, and I think they should have sent her there instead really. She has shown enough ability to mix it with the boys in the past, and her run in the Champion Stakes at Ascot (broke the track record) reads well in the context of this race but I feel there are other who last out this trip a little better than this daughter of Oasis Dream and she looks more likely to fill the place.

St Nicholas Abbey comes here off a solid effort in the Arc when finishing fifth behind Danedream in course record time. He sat close to the pace throughout and took up the lead at the three furlong pole before being edged out of it late on. He is drawn on the inside here under Joseph O’Brien and one would expect them to sit very close to the pace on ground probably quicker than ideal – he gets the lasix first time though and the 2F straight here could play into his advantage but he is too hit and miss for my liking, but remains unbeaten on left handed tracks.

Sea Moon is pretty much the forgotten horse in here I think after an awesome performance to win the Voltigeur and was given a pathetic ride by Olivier Peslier in the St Leger (which can be ignored) when last seen. He has been lightly campaigned this season and has the benefit of Ryan Moore riding and lasix for the first time – major shout with the Stoute yard creeping back into form.

Sarafina is clearly the form horse in the race, but those close to her have the benefit of lasix for the first time whereas her trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre elects not to use the medication on his wonderful filly and that could prove a costly mistake. She is unbeaten in two starts on left-handed tracks and has a lethal turn of foot should the race prove tactical and certainly has a favourites chance.

Await The Dawn almost died after his run in the Juddmonte International at York in August and hasn’t been seen since. Aidan O’Brien believes he is more of a Classic horse but runs him here instead, I think this is more a fact finding mission with a view to next year but he gets a combination of lasix and Julien Leparoux for the first time and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Deans Kitten looks the best of the Americans based on that running on second to Cape Blanco in the Turf Classic at Belmont, and although Cape Blanco is an admirable and durable sort, he wouldn’t be in the same league as the likes of Sarafina and Midday over in Europe.

In what looks a tough race to decipher it very much looks down to what sort of pace will be on offer and from what I can read it looks like being a very tactical affair. Which means I have to side with SARAFINA whose tactical speed gives her a big advantage over her rivals and she is also the class horse in the field – slight worry about the lack of lasix though, and would rate Sea Moon as a potent threat?

[notification_box]1pt win Sarafina @ 11-4 with SportingBet and BlueSQ[/notification_box]

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile

The fourth race on Breeders Cup Saturday sees them go a mile on the dirt for the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile. Into its fifth year it was won last year by the Jerry Hollendorfer trained Dakota Phone and no three-year-old has won in four runnings so far.

Decent horses like Mastercraftsman, Midshipman, and the Nick Zito trained Morning Line have tried and failed, but this year it looks a stronger bunch of three-year-olds attempting to take the crown for the first time.

The Factor heads the field in stall 1, and the Bob Baffert trained three-year-old looks set to go forward from his inside position. He expectedly weakened after setting a furious pace in the Ancient Title last time and has proven he can run this sort of trip based on his Triple Crown from back in the spring. He has been working extremely well in the mornings according to his times (a lot of Baffert’s seem to be burning up the gallops). The problem here is he faces five habitual front-runners and I can see it developing into a pace duel, whereby he’ll likely fade out of things late on.

This year’s Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford comes here on the back of second placing in the Indiana Derby last time, and drops back to one-turn for the first time since his maiden success. According to his pace figures he had the run of the race out in front last time and should prove vulnerable in the closing stages if blazing off in-front and getting involved in a pace duel.

Tapizar returned to rout a field off an 8 month break at Belmont last time, which included older horses and although he has won round here tracking the pace his main preference and style is all about speed and he looks another likely to get involved in a tussle up-front setting it up for the closers.

Tres Borrachos comes here winless on six attempts on dirt, and isn’t the force of old and will struggle to get involved here. Another likely to lie up with the pace, and help set searching fractions.

Wilburn comes into this race off the back of a 103-Beyer romp when accounting for Shackleford in the Indiana Derby last time, and his late-closing style looks perfectly suited to the makeup of this field. He is a late maturing sort who is running bigger numbers with every start, and most importantly comes into this race bang in form where many of his rivals are either out of it, or likely to go too quick out in front – big contender, considering he has showcased his ability to go equally as well around one-turn at Santa Anita first time back.

Irrefutable looks equipped to go well here, and the Bob Baffert second string gets the services of Rafael Bejarano in the plate who rode him to a solid second in the Ancient Title last time out. His performance pattern seems to peak off a rest of 38 days or more (thanks Nick Mordin) and runs off a shorter period here for the fifth time in a row, and has lost his last four.

Jersey Town was no match for Uncle Mo and Jackson Bend last time, but ran a massive Beyer over this configuration when winning the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct late last year. He has had limited starts since thanks to an ankle injury picked up winning that race (need surgery after) but his recent work in New York suggests he is returning to form and could be one for the exotics – place claims.

Next up is Caleb’s Posse who has been running some quick numbers over one-turn this season, admittedly over shorter distances than the mile he will encounter on Saturday. He was stretched in the Indiana Derby last time behind Wilburn and Shackleford over two-turns and the drop back in trip will work in his favour. Looks to have plenty of pace to run at and the way he has run over seven furlongs at Saratoga when beating Uncle Mo suggests he’ll be closing fast and late, and is one they all have to fear – solid win chance.

Finally my selection TRAPPE SHOT who returned from a break to run fourth in a front end bias-aided Vosburgh last time. He posted an excellent Beyer over a mile and sixteenth at Monmouth last year before dropping back to sprinting trips and strictly on the figures holds an advantage over the field. He will also be advantaged by the mass of pace in the race, and he’ll be able to close them down late under John Velasquez. He has a record of 6 wins from 8 between 6F and 8.5F and has clearly been aimed and prepped with this race in mind.

[notification_box]3pts win Trappe Shot @ 5-1 with Boylesports, Coral, BlueSQ[/notification_box]

Breeders Cup Turf Sprint

A recent addition to the Breeders Cup, the Turf sprint started in 2008 and started out at a distance of six and a half furlongs. It remained at this distance the next year but has since dropped back to five furlongs, as Churchill Downs only conduct turf sprints over five furlongs.

The defending champion Chamberlain Bridge returns this year in a similar vein of form after finishing a close-up third after a mid-summer break last time. He has however drawn an outside post in box 14 which should prove somewhat tricky to overcome one would of thought. That said he is a true five furlong horse which can’t be said for many of these, and he may have the tactical speed to get him out of trouble.

Havelock comes into this having won his last four turf races for trainer Darrin Miller. What has been impressive with his performances is that he has won with various running styles, proving he is tactically versatile, which will hold him in good stead here. He has the excellent Robby Alborado on his back once more and looks a leading contender to take this.

California Flag has recently regained winning form and won this race two years ago. That was over 6.5F though and he was well beaten in this race last year despite having plenty of pace in his locker. He has a better draw this time round though and could be returning to that sort of form but he has too many questions to answer for me.

Rapport makes her debut on turf and has to find a few lengths on the speed figures, and her sire only has around 8% winners from first-timers on turf which has to rate as a negative.

Country Day gets a rematch with Perfect Officer and Havelock after his third placing in the Grade 3 Woodford at Keeneland when last seen. That said I can’t really make a case for him from his outside post in box 11, and although could run well – isn’t one for me.

Camp Victory has been running well all season against the top-synthetic and dirt sprinters and posted a few triple-digit Beyer figures on the spin before bouncing last time out on turf. He has the potential to rebound back to that sort of form though and remains interesting in what looks an open race.

Broken Dreams is a mare in form and comes into this race sharp after a few mid-90 Beyer’s and she shortens up to 5F here. I feel that trip isn’t really guaranteed to suit her and she might get outpaced at a vital stage here before keeping on well.

Perfect Officer comes into this race after two solid places efforts in the Turf Monster and Woodford and had Havelock in-front of him most recently. He has a decent post here in stall 4 and I can see him being thereabouts at the finish sitting just a couple lengths off the lead throughout.

Holiday For Kitten doesn’t have the Beyer’s to suggest she’ll be good enough to have a say in this, and Grand Adventure will struggle to keep up and hold that inside rail from his pitch in the 1 box, so he can be left out too.

Great Attack has won over this distance and looks likely to contribute to the pace, but is held by a few of these on the form lines and will probably just drop out of it inside the final furlong.

Regally Ready is 2-2 on this track here at Churchill Downs and comes into the race on the back of a 94-Beyer win of the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes last time out beating the highly rated Bated Breath on ground probably softer than ideal for the both of them. He has the assistance for Corey Nakatani from what looks a good draw in stall 8, and he can race on the pace and be thereabouts at the line – solid chance, probable winner.

Caracortado drops back to 5F here for the first time after doing majority of his racing over a mile in the last couple of years. That said he obviously showed enough pace to start out over four furlongs, and has also won a six furlong race in his time so maybe he isn’t a forlorn hope. He will drop back from an outside position and will be finishing fastest of all under Joe Talamo but it’s going to be tough going pegging back the pace around here and he’ll most likely run on into a place – class angle in the race.

Hoofit looks an interesting runner for Graham Motion and this New Zealand import has adapted well to the American style of racing notching up 2-2 on synthetics since his arrival. He readily accounted for an allowance field at Presque –isle Downs before gamely winning a Grade 3 at Keeneland defeating my Breeders Cup Sprint fancy Akenite by the minimum distance. That form looks solid and providing he is ridden forward from his draw in stall 7, the return to turf could extend his winning streak to three under veteran Edgar Prado.

In what looks a very open race, the most likely winner for me seems to be Regally Ready who has an excellent record around here, posted a big win at Woodbine last time and has a good draw but his price doesn’t do too much for me. Therefore given my allegiances in the Breeders Cup Dirt Sprint I have to side with Hoofit at almost treble the price, and hope he can run into the frame under Edgar Prado – his numbers suggest he isn’t a forlorn hope in this.

[notification_box]0.5pt each-way Hoofit @ 14-1 with Totesport, Betfred, SportingBet[/notification_box]