Breeders Cup 2018 - Churchill Downs Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd November 2018

Home of the Breeders Cup 2018 will be Churchill Downs on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd November

Five winners over the two nights sees me finish +0.74 to level stakes - better than losing money but hardly spectacular! It was a great couple of evenings though with some brilliant racing and performances - Newspaperofrecord will live long in the memory. 

The bets for the Breeders Cup 2018

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint: Soldiers Call 7-2
Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: Newspaperofrecord 6-4 
Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies: Bellafina 5-2 
Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf: Line Of Duty 7-2
Breeders Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile: Game Winner 13-8 
Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint: Marleys Freedom 6-4
Breeders Cup Turf Sprint: Disco Partner 6-1
Breeders Cup Dirt Mile: Catalina Cruiser 5-4  
Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf:  Wild Illusion 2-1
Breeders Cup Sprint: Imperial Hint 15-8
Breeders Cup Mile: Oscar Performance 6-1
Breeders Cup Distaff: Monomoy Girl 2-1  
Breeders Cup Turf: Enable 8-13
Breeders Cup Classic: Catholic Boy 6-1

14 races over two evenings every one of them a Grade One. It’s all Star Spangled Banner and Yankee Doodle Dandy for 48 hours at Triple G Towers as it’s all about Churchill Downs, Central Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky, United States of America.

Home of the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, Churchill Downs Racetrack occupies 147 acres, featuring a one-mile dirt oval racetrack and a seven furlong turf race course. A middle draw is considered best by many trainers as horses drawn on the inside often have to go forward early rather than get covered up - no bad thing if you’re a front runner of course – that said if you get cover you get kickback! You take your chances as they say.

We are four hours ahead here in the UK now so all the races are at watchable times, though it will eat into your evenings this weekend – I don’t know about you but suits me just fine as I don’t know how people sit in front of the box Friday and Saturday night watching X-Factor!

01/11/18: 

As I did with Future Stars Friday the preview video for the Breeders Cup Saturday races at Churchill Downs is live – see video page on here or the YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gU7AD3WVIJY – and below is a slightly more in-depth look at the races on Saturday.   Y’all have a nice day now ya hear and most of all, as ever, be lucky

Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

The Breeders Cup races get underway at 4.00 our time on the dirt track over 7f. That man Bob Baffert has the warm favourite here in the shape of Marleys Freedom who recorded flashy Beyer speed figures in her last two runs. She arrives off the back of a four race winning streak, three of which came having moved to the Baffert barn in May, including the G.1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga last time. Selcourt did beat Marleys Freedom back in March at Santa Anita but hasn’t been seen since and has reportedly had a few niggles; she has been aimed at this though. 

Breeders Cup Turf Sprint

It’s 5½f at 4.38 as the speedsters strut their stuff and this is a tricky race – the sprints this year are. Stormy Liberal is back again and has won his last two suggesting he may be finding the form that saw him win this in 2017 at 40-1 – was also second in the G.1 Al Quoz Sprint out in Dubai back in March. Disco Partner was third last year and has a habit of finding one too good at the top level but is arguably the most consistent of those lining-up – he will appreciate fast going. Lost Treasure is far from one of the big names at Ballydoyle but has to be considered bearing in mind the standard of the opposition. Havana Grey goes for Karl Burke. 

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile

Catalina Cruiser has been a warm order for this for a while and was certainly impressive winning the G.2 Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar in August over 7f having won the 1m½f G.2 San Diego Handicap at the same track in July. He looks very good and though stall ten is not ideal he should get a decent enough running position still with only ten runners lining-up. City Of Light might be the one to give the chestnut most to think about, he did beat Accelerate earlier this year, he will have little choice but to go for is from the up out of stall one. Seeking The Soul is another that could get involved.  

Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf

It’s the 1m3f trip at 6.04 with an unsurprisingly strong European challenge. Wild Illusion has had a fine season and as long as the exertions have not taken their toll she should prove too good for this field. 2-1 looks a fair price to me; I wouldn’t lay bigger! Charlie Appleby said in the build-up a few days ago: “She has come out the race in France really well. Although she has campaigned well so far over the summer, going back to her two-year-old career, the autumn is when she comes into her own. She goes there in good order, and if she adapts to her surroundings she should be a player. The trip will be fine. The drop back to a mile and a quarter has seen the improvement – but this is over a mile three on a flat track with a couple of turns, so there are no concerns regarding that.” She has stall three which should be fine. Magic Wand has had a good view of Wild Illusions backside several times this season already and may well again out of stall ten. Eziyra for Dermot Weld should go well.  

Breeders' Cup Sprint

We are back on the dirt track at 6.46 for the 6f sprint and arguably one of the most competitive heats on the night even though only nine line-up. Imperial Hint suffered his one defeat this season back in May but that was over seven and this 6f trip is much more to the five-year-olds liking. Has won G.1’s at Saratoga and Belmont Park in the run-up to this and he has a big chance. Roy H beat him in this race last year at Del Mar and the 6yo looked back to his best winning a G.1 at Santa Anita last time. Promises Fulfilled is another to consider who should go well.  

Breeders Cup Mile

Another strong raiding party line-up at 7.36 on the turf track for the Breeders Cup Mile. Polydream gets all the allowances as a 3yo filly and she has a big chance. That said she found every bit of trouble possible in the G.1 Prix de la Foret last time and her style of running may mean more trouble awaits here. Expert Eye was coming with a strong run on the G.1 Prix du Moulin on that same card at Longchamp but could only get into third. He has a proper turn of foot and that is no bad thing if they get quick going. Oscar Performance was the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2016 and his trainer believes his colt is the US challenger the Europeans should fear most in this. “I have to say Oscar Performance has the most credentials this year,” Brain Lynch said recently. “As good as he has trained since the Woodbine Mile, if we were fortunate enough to get a fast turf course I would say we are going to be the horse to beat.” He was certainly impressive in that Woodbine Mile victory. He took a turn on the turf course Wednesday morning with Arnoldo Orellana and afterwards Lynch said the decision to drop back to a mile, having gone over further last year, was an easy one. “He set a world record (for a mile) in the Poker and had a big effort in the Woodbine Mile.”  It would be no surprise to see him put it up to the Europeans from the off out of stall five. Will they be able to get passed him?

Breeders Cup Distaff

The fillies and mares take to the 1m1f dirt track for the Distaff at 8.16. Monomoy Girl was having a perfect 2018 until she was disqualified and placed second in the G.1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx last time – I though unluckily. She won the G.1 Kentucky Oaks here in May and is a warm favourite for this for very good reason. She gets the 3yo allowance and the draw is the main concern. Speaking on Wednesday after she stretched her legs her trainer Brad Cox said “She was very aggressive. She was moving great. She’s been that way for a while now. She couldn’t be doing any better.” Able Tasman was second last year but this really does seem to be her absolute maximum distance wise and she may fade out of it late. Midnight Bisou was the filly awarded the Cotillion Stakes; she won’t be so lucky here.  

Longines Breeders Cup Turf

8.56 is the post time for the potentially history making Turf over 1m4f. Enable will be trying to bust a pretty big stat as an Arc winner coming over to run in this – all of the seven Arc winners to try have suffered defeat when attempting the double in the same season. That said an old favourite of mine High Chaparral won this twice having finished 3rd in the Arc beforehand - he just did not go right-handed at Longchamp! Whilst Andre Fabre sent In The Wings (1990) and Shirocco (2005) over to win this after finishing fourth in France. The aforementioned Andre Fabre sends Talismanic and Waldgeist this year. Talismanic was of course the winner of the Turf at Del Mar last year and seems to like the tighter American turns, it’s not as tight here, whilst Waldgeist might be better for the run in the Arc according to his trainer. The facts are though that Enable was reportedly far from match fit when winning her second Arc which makes the performance even more impressive. In theory she should strip fitter for the run – how many Arc winners have you been able to say that about in the past – and all things being equal she we win. She is odds-on for a reason. Magical won the Fillies & Mares on soft at Ascot but got nowhere near the jolly in the Arc.  

Breeders Cup Classic

It’s the big one at 9.44 with 1m2f ahead of them on the dirt track. The big question is perhaps will Roaring Lion go on the surface? It’s a bit of leap of faith as even though his pedigree is American in recent generations most were turf runners. The Dam Vionnet does give hope he’ll take to the surface as her sire was Street Sense, that colt having been champion US 2yo winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile in 2006 and going on to win the Kentucky Derby in 2007. His sire was of course Street Cry who won the Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba back in 2002. Saeed bin Suroor is looking to G.1 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow to continue his excellent run of international results. Accelerate has looked good this year, certainly on paper, beaten only once and that by just a neck, and has headed the betting market for a while. That said a few are questioning if he is as interested in the game as he once was as a 5yo? He played up a bit in the stalls before winning the G.1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita last time but he did win. West Coast has pretty much been aimed at this since finishing third last year but has a habit of coming up short, second to Thunder Snow in Dubai back in March and Accelerate at Santa Anita in September. McKinzie is an improving 3yo who won the G.1 Pennsylvania Derby last time – don’t be fooled by his flashing tail he does that – who has to enter calculations. Catholic Boy was pretty impressive winning the G.1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August, Mendelssohn second, following up a couple of wins on the turf at Belmont Park. The run of three wins has coincided with a more positive style of running being adopted. He is perhaps the one with fewer questions to answer than others and, of course, gets the weight allowance as a 3yo who could still be improving. Trainer Jonathan Thomas is confident in Catholic Boy’s ability to handle the Churchill Downs surface, over which he breezed five furlongs on Sunday and jogged Monday. A common belief that turf horses perform better on Churchill’s dirt surface than other dirt tracks certainly doesn’t diminish his trainer’s confidence in his charges chances; he might be right to feel confident.  

31/10/18: The preview video is live - see video page on here or the YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-sXywhvLos - and here is a slightly more in-depth look at Breeders Cup Future Stars Friday. 

New to this year’s Breeders Cup is Future Stars Friday in which all five Breeders’ Cup races exclusively for 2-year-olds will be run on the opening day of the Championships. 

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

The Juvenile Turf Sprint over 5½f gets the jamboree underway on Friday at 7.21 out time. A few names line-up that you will recognise and I have quietly fancied Soldiers Call for this ever since he was so close in the G.1 Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc day where I had tipped him at 8-1. He is all about speed, get out and get gone will be the tactics, and that’s no bad thing the other side of the pond; stall two sets him up to do so as well. Comedy travels over from the Karl Burke stable having been purchased by New York-based Marlene Brody for the Breeders Cup, she has something to find on form though and I think So Perfect is priced purely for the fact he it the Ballydoyle hope. Shang Shang Shang – winner of the Norfolk Stakes back in the summer tipped on here – looks the home teams best hope for that man Wesley Ward.  

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

At 8.00 the young fillies go over the mile. Newspaperofrecord goes for Chad Brown and she arrives two from two, both of which she won impressively from the videos I have seen. Stall six is pretty much perfect; take a look at her front running win in the G.2 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park. After an easy gallop Wednesday morning Brown said of his charge    “As long as she breaks clean, she is very difficult to beat.”  Concrete Rose is another for the home team unbeaten after two starts. Just Wonderful travels from Ballydoyle and will be popular off the back of her G.2 Rockfel Stakes win but I think she will have to play second fiddle to the Yank horses here, whilst Kevin Ryan sends his unbeaten East but the draw has been unkind.  

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies

They line-up for this on the dirt track at 8.40 over 1m½f. Bellafina was 2nd on debut over five furlongs but has thrived since stepping up in trip winning her next three starts by a total of 15 lengths; the last over this trip at Santa Anita. That was the G.1 Chandelier Stakes were she tracked the early pace and simply blew away the opposition looking to have something in hand. She is drawn widest but it’s 10 of 10 so not a disaster. Serengeti Empress and Restless Rider are dangers.

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf

I was hoping Godolphin would send Royal Marine for this but they haven’t and he stays at home leaving it I think quite a tricky heat. Anthony Van Dyck, and Line Of Duty have traveled over and have big chances as well as Current for the home team. This looks a tricky heat for punters. Charlie Appleby’s Line Of Duty drew stall five which is in theory is a plus and gives Buick every chance of getting him in a perfect pitch. Anthony Van Dyck is drawn widest of all in stall 14. 

Breeders Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile

They go over 1m½f back on the dirt at 10.05. The Bob Baffert trained Game Winner has been short for this for a while arriving as he does unbeaten after three starts including two Grade 1 events in September—the Del Mar Futurity and American Pharoah Stakes. He hasn’t even really been challenged as yet winning all three with it would appear plenty in hand. It tells you all you need to know when you consider Gunmetal Gray is fourth in the betting and he was the horse beaten by 4½ lengths at Santa Anita last time. Complexity might give him something to think about, Complexity breaks from six and Game Winner stall nine, but the mount of Joel Rossario looks the likely banker of Future Stars Friday.