The two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships start this evening at Santa Anita, California. Races will take place on turf and on an American dirt surface. European horses should be favoured on the green stuff while the American horses will be streets ahead on dirt.
While European horses should be looked at significantly on turf, the Santa Anita grass track is a course that many Euro horses will never have experienced anything like. It’s a very sharp and speed orientated layout while the firm ground it will be run on, will probably be the fastest surface any Euro horse has ever encountered.
There is an ignorance among Euro racing fans about American racing on turf, some feel there is a divine right for the foreign raiders to come out on top, but while favoured, given the unique test American turf racing offers, wins here are always earned.
21:25 Santa Anita – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf
We kick off the meeting with a highly competitive juvenile contest on grass, run over a mile. Three Euro horses have been entered, but the Aidan O’Brien pair of Intelligence Cross and Lancaster Bomber look our strongest chances.
The three American horses to respect include Big Score, Made You Look and Oscar Performance. Canadian-based trainer Mark Casse also saddles the useful Keep Quiet.
The shortest horse in the betting from the ‘home team’ is Oscar Performance (6/1) who has looked good in his last two starts clocking up two wide margin victories. There is no doubting his class, but whether he’ll get an easy lead today like he has done previously remains to be seen.
The presence of Lancaster Bomber and a number of other horses in the field should see plenty competition for the lead and in a race where closers have a good record, the aforementioned pair may set this up for the others.
With Oscar Performance and Good Samaritan having wider than ideal draws BIG SCORE and Intelligence Cross look to hold sound chances. The former has course and distance form on the back of a brilliant 3 ¼ lengths win here last time out. He still looked green that day and if improves on that smooth-travelling, strong-staying win, he’ll be in the mix.
INTELLIGENCE CROSS is a horse I have plenty of time for. He’s compete with plenty of merit in some of the top Euro juvenile races this season. Three of those runs have come at unsuitability undulating tracks. Santa Anita’s bowling green surface will really suit and while he has to prove he’ll stay a mile; he has at least shaped like 7f would be no problem.
At the prices, these two are worth dutching.
1pt win Big Score @10/1 (Betfair, William Hill)
1pt win Intelligence Cross @5/1 (Ladbrokes, StanJames, William Hill)
22:05 Santa Anita – Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
DORTMUND comes here a much fresher horse than his nearest market rival – depending were you look – Gun Runner. Hs other main competitor is last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Runhappy, but he’s a horse that has plagued by setbacks since that victory while the rest of this field don’t look in the selection’s league.
Bob Baffert’s horse has only had three runs this season where he has been beaten in all starts by one of the world’s best horses in California Chrome. There is nothing like that in this field and if on his ‘A’ game, he wins.
3pts win Dortmund @evs (Sky Bet), @10/11 (bet365, William Hill)
22:50 Santa Anita – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
Another hugely competitive turf event with plenty of Euro interests. The Christophe Ferland-trained Cavale Doree will represent France. Three Irish trained runners look set to line up, all handled by an O’Brien. Aidan O’Brien will be represented by Hydrangea and Roly Poly while his son Joseph – now a newly functioning rival trainer – sends Intricately.
All three Emerald Isle runners are prominent in the market and are deserving of respect, but the top Euro chance looks to be Hydrangea. Roly Poly is a quality War Front juvenile, but with a poor draw in 13 and stamina to prove over a mile, I’m happy to take her on.
Connections of Intricately have voiced concerns for her on the track, it may be tighter than ideal. All her best form has also come on ground with significant cut in it so despite having a useful draw I’d look elsewhere.
I’m also willingly to take on the race-favourite Spain Burg despite her perfect drawn in 4 and Frankie Dettori up. A former Euro-based filly but now trained in America, of those ‘Euro challengers’ to the front of the market, hers form is the weakest.
The Mark Casse-trained La Coronel is one of the ‘home team’ high on my list, but her draw in 14 looks a nightmare. She would’ve been fancied to go close if drawn in the first six stalls. Her stablemate Victory To Victory has a plum box in three and comes here as a Grade 1 winner. The Exchange Rate is a strong stayer over a mile and is probably one to include in exotics.
I couldn’t put anyone off Hydrangea, I actually think she looks the most solid option of all the Euro horses in. It’s just these type of races often won by closers and the daughter of Galileo could set it up for the late chargers.
The well-bred American filly NEW MONEY HONEY represents top American trainer Chad Brown, a man who has a fine record on grass tracks. The daughter of Medaglia d´Oro made a lovely debut behind a classy winner (La Coronel) on debut, but a lack of experience cost her getting closer to a horse that already had two runs.
She was a good winner last time out and with a better draw than La Coronel, who beat her on debut, and more experience under her belt, she could go close.
I’m also going to suggest a bet on CAVALE DOREE who I fancied for a Group 1 at Chantilly last time, but came unstuck having been too keen off slow early fractions. She impressed on the start beforehand over 7f and if getting a strong pace to run at here, the daughter of Sunday Silence may cause a small shock.
At the prices, I’ll go dutching again.
1pt win Cavale Doree @16/1 (William Hill), @14/1 (general)
1pt win New Money Honey @12/1 (Ladbrokes, StanJames, William Hill)
23:35 Santa Anita – Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Don’t know too much about the dirt racing and nothing stood out here at a price. Happy to sit back and watch these top-class fillies duel it out.
Tea and biscuits