Churchill Downs the home of the Kentucky Derby welcomes the Breeders’ Cup this weekend where thousands of people, will watch hundreds of horses do battle for an extraordinary $30 million over this two-day extravaganza. This is one horse racing’s greatest events and justifiably attracts leading equine talent from all over the world. It also marks the end of the flat season with the last big race after this being the Melbourne Cup.
Game Winner heads the market for this Grade 1 contest and in truth, he looks the most likely winner having won on debut by nearly six lengths and then followed this up with a brace of Group Ones, on what was just his second and third career starts. The son of Candy Ride has looked very impressive on each occasion and should take all the beating under Joel Rosario.
The biggest threat may come from one of the outsiders Gunmetal Gray, who proved no match for the favourite when the pair met in the Grade 1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita. That being said, Gunmetal Gray was only having his second career start on that occasion and there could be more improvement to come from the son of Exchange Rate.
Another horse worth mentioning is Complexity who has won both his starts in fast times and has done some from the front. The Chad Brown-trained colt was an impressive winner of the Group 1 Champagne Stakes when beating Code Of Honor by three lengths. He will be looking to extend his unbeaten record.
Selection: Game Winner
Bellafina tops the market and she was an $800,000 purchase from the sales and she has won all three career starts, two of which came in Grade 1 company. She looks like the filly to beat but it’s unlikely that she will get an easy lead on the front. Simon Callaghan’s two-year-old filly looks like a potential superstar and is one to keep on the right side of.
The Thomas Amoss trained filly Serengeti Empress has been incredibly impressive looking in winning her last two starts by a combined 33 lengths. On paper, she looks the part but on further inspection, these might not have been the strongest races and the winning times were on the slow side.
Restless Rider is the final filly I like in this, firstly she’s unbeaten on the track, she was an impressive winner of a Grade 1 at Keenland last month and she is versatile in terms of tactics, which can be very important in a race of this nature.
Selection: Restless Rider
This race has been farmed by Chad Brown in recent years with Rushing Fall making it four wins in the last ten years in 2017. Newspaperofrecord flies the flag for the yard this season and is a leading fancy for the race. The daughter of Lope De Vega has romped home on both career starts and looks best suited by the forecasted wet conditions having won both these starts with “juice” in the ground.
Aidan relies on Just Wonderful to continue his incredible record this year and she looks worthy of this faith considering she was a very snug winner of the Rockfel when last seen in action. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the daughter Dansilli, she found it all happening too fast around her when trailing in a disappointing favourite in the Albany at Royal Ascot and she let her supporters down in the Moyglare behind the progressive Skitter Scatter. That being said she is a dual Group winner this season and Aidan knows what it takes to win at the Breeders’ Cup.
French-raider Lily’s Candle would appreciate the rain staying away, given that she won the Prix Marcel Boussac on a sound surface. Although she has won on soft ground, I think she is best with “Good” in the going description.
The British trio of East, Le Pelosa and The Mackem Bullet all hold chances but it would be a surprise if they have the quality required to take this.
There are a few key stats to bear in mind when trying to pick the winner of this; eight of the last ten winners were trained in Europe, Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last seven renewals and three of the last six winners ran in the Dewhurst.
The horse that ticks all these boxes in Anthony Van Dyck who hails from the Ballydoyle stable and was third in this season’s Dewhurst behind Too Darn Hot. Prior to this, he had finished second in the National Stakes at the Curragh behind Quorto. This should give Charlie Appleby a good line of form as he trains Quorto and Line Of Duty who runs in this.
Line Of Duty took three runs to break his maiden but has been impressive in two starts since then including a Group 3 event at Chantilly. A stat that Charlie will be proud of is that he’s trained two winners from three runners at the Breeders’ Cup and he’ll be hoping Line Of Duty can add to this enviable record.
Current could be the surprise package in the race having only been beaten once and that was behind a next time Grade 1 winner. Todd Pletcher is a dab hand with his two-year-olds and he looks like a big each-way play.
Selection: Anthony Van Dyck
This is the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf sprint so there are not much stats to go on, so a decision will have to be made based on the bare form on offer.
Unsurprisingly European raiders top the market, with the Archie Watson trained Soldier’s Call likely to start favourite. Victories in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Flying Childers were followed by a fine third place finish in the Prix de l’Abbaye against the seasoned sprinters at Longchamp when last seen. This run should be good enough to take this contest.
The l’Abbaye can sometimes produce funny results so I would take the form with a pinch of salt. Aidan O’Brien runs two but it’s the filly So Perfect that makes the most appeal following good runs in a brace of Group Ones on her last two starts. She looks like a decent price to hit the frame.
Wesley Ward prides himself on producing precious talent and has become a regular at the Royal meeting in recent times. He left with another win under his belt when Shang Shang Shang had too much for her rivals in the Norfolk Stakes. We haven’t seen her since this win but Wesley knows how to ready a horse for the big day and if she reproduces her Norfolk form then she must go close.
Selection: So Perfect