Breeders Cup 2019 – Santa Anita Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd November 2019

Home of the Breeders Cup 2019 will be Santa Anita on Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd November 2019

Breeders Cup 2019 Ante-Post Portfolio

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint: A'Ali 5-1

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile: Omaha Beach 5-4

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: Crystalle 12-1 each way

Breeders Cup Turf: Bricks And Mortar 15-8

Breeders Cup Distaff: Midnight Bisou 5-4

Breeders Cup Filly & Mares Turf: Sistercharlie Evens

I finish the two evening -1.13 to level stakes after several 2nd's and 3rd's. I did find three winners, including the two big ones the Turf and the Classic but ultimately close but no cigar as they say. 

It is the 36th Breeders Cup across the pond at Santa Anita on Friday 1st November and Saturday 2nd November. 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 I concentrate on Santa Anita Park Racetrack 285 W Huntington Drive Arcadia CA 91007.

You have to give it to the Yanks they do know how to promote a meeting and they don’t skimp on the prize-money. Purses and awards for the 2019 event total $30 million for 14 championship races. The Breeders’ Cup Classic alone carries a $6 million purse.  They have marketed the meeting for all it's worth and it has grown and grown. The first Breeders’ Cup was held at Hollywood Park in Los Angeles on 10th November 1984 with a seven race card. First ever winner of the Classic? 4-year-old colt Wild Again.

I cannot begin this piece without a look at the recent history at the track. Santa Anita, sitting in the shadow of southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains has been under a different shadow of late. The course has come under intense scrutiny this year with 34 equine deaths in races and training, 30 of which happened during the track’s winter/spring meet. I sincerely hope we have no additions to that number.

Santa Anita has an oval dirt track one-mile round with a run-in of 330 yards. The inner turf course is about seven furlongs in length though the races over six-and-a-half furlongs, mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half start on a chute which runs downhill and crosses the dirt track. Weather wise its forecast to be in the 80’s for the weekend.

The track is about as far across America as you can get on the West-Coast roughly 250 miles on from Las Vegas. The majority of the races are off at pretty unsociable hours here. In fact the big one Saturday, The Breeders Cup Classic, will be run in the early hours of Sunday morning our time. It is going to eat into the weekend somewhat but hey it’s only once a year.

Future Stars Friday

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

The Breeders Cup races get underway at 8.12pm our time here in the UK and I think we can draw first blood in this. I have had it in my mind for a while that A’Ali might be perfect for this and it would appear Frankie Dettori agrees with me. Wesley Ward stated in an interview just the other day talking about his Royal Ascot runner-up Kimari “Frankie can’t ride as he tells me he’s got a good one coming over for this race.” That ‘good one’ is A’Ali and Dettori’s agent Ray Cochrane believes it is his clients’ best chance of a winner at the meeting. He is reportedly a relaxed traveller which is an obvious plus and Ed Crisford, son and assistant to trainer Simon, did mention in a recent interview “I should think he would run on Lasix as you want it to be a level playing field." I have the 5-1 ante-post, the draw wasn’t kind and he will have to overcome stall 10 in a 12-strong field. Archie Watson has high hopes that Band Practice will run a “huge” race; he’ll need to! 

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

I think this is wide-open. Albigna has been made jolly but I think she prefers a bit more cut than she is likely to get out in the States; see her win in the G.1 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac - Criterium des Pouliches. Daahyeh got back in the winners circle at HQ last time in the G2. Rockfel Stakes, tipped by me, and has to be on a shortlist. This is though her first try at a mile and she is another that might not want it too firm.  The Chad Brown trained Selflessly won the G.2 Miss Grillo Stakes last month. Brown has won the JFT on five of the eleven occasions it has been run and this filly has followed a tried and trusted route to the race, the exact same route four of Chad's five winners took so she has to be considered. Crystalle was second in the Miss Grillo, sent off favourite. She gave them about 14 lengths head-start being restrained in last but came home with a wet sail to be beaten ¾ lengths. She won a Listed race at Sartaoga before that, Sweet Melania second, again giving them a head-start. She is clearly not one that’s going to lead but if she can break on better terms she could go by them all in the final furlong. I have a bit of the 12-1 each-way.  

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies

That man Bob Baffert saddles Bast who was second on debut over too short before winning her next two starts the most recent being the G.1 Chandelier Stakes over track and trip; Comical second. Donna Veloce won by 9¼ lengths on debut and is pitched straight in at the deep end here. That was impressive but I am not sure what she beat over that 6½f trip. Wicked Whisper might struggle to get the lead out of stall 7 which I think scuppers her chance. British Idiom trained by Brad Cox has to enter calculations after an impressive win in the G.1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes. I think she might have the perfect draw in 4 to sit in behind the lead before going by round the home turn as she did in the race at Keeneland. Grab a bit of 4-1.  

Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf

The fact Bookies were offering 9-1 the field at one point tells you there were several with other preferences entered in this and plans for many were shrouded in mystery. One that we now know will race, and promptly became jolly when the mist cleared, is Arizona for Ballydoyle. With no Pinatubo to worry about here he should get back to winning ways but stall 12 was not what ‘the lads’ would have hoped for from the draw. At 2-1 I am on hoping Ryan Moore can steer him home.  

Breeders Cup TVG Juvenile

Maxfield was on my mind for this and was being talked-up by a few judges across the pond but doesn’t run! Eight Rings arrives with two wins from three starts, unseated his rider on his second start. The colt won the 1m½f Grade One American Pharoah Stakes here at Santa Anita on fast going as his warm-up in September making every yard. He's quirky but he's good.  Dennis’ Moment also has unseated on his racecard, having unshipped his rider on debut. No such problem on his next two starts as he blitzed the field on his second start to win by nearly twenty lengths before winning the G.3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. The way Eight Rings took the G.1 American Pharoah Stakes over C&D last month was pretty impressive and that line of form has lead to me backing him for this at 13-8. He should lead from gate to wire as they say in the States and the biggest danger might be he's temperament.   

Breeders Cup Saturday

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint

At 6.55 here in the UK they face 7f for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint that gets the Breeders Cup action on Saturday underway. This was another race with several cross-entered, in this case for this and the Distaff, so again I held off from an early ante-post punt. Come Dancing and Covfefe had their warm-ups in slightly calmer waters and won as they should have. I was taken with just how well Come Dancing won, taking the G.2 Gallant Bloom Handicap by 3¼ lengths easing down. She had won the G.1 Ballerina Stakes prior to that by 3½ lengths and I think she can take this at 5-2.  

Breeders Cup Turf Sprint

Stormy Liberal looks to make history having won the last two renewals of this; I did not tip the gelding either of those runs and won’t be this year. Totally Boss and Eddie Haskell have both been on my mind. Totally Boss appears to have got the hang of things this year and though he’ll need to improve as his biggest win to date was a Grade Three last time he is very much on an upward curve. He has stall one which certainly aint hurt his chances and at what might prove a big 5-1 I am on in the hope that he has some more improvement in him yet.  

Breeders Cup Dirt Mile

The Big Ass Fans Breeders Cup Dirt Mile to give it its full title this year (you don’t get sponsors like that at Royal Ascot) often gives us the best finish of the evening. This year it might be a procession. Omaha Beach has been short for this for weeks. Though the Classic was apparently under consideration not for long it would appear as shown by his warm-up over 6f at this track when he won the G.1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes beating Shancelot considered one of the fastest horses over in the USA (more on that one later in this piece). He went 5-4 the moment it was confirmed this was the race he will run in and I took it; he might be the bet of the night! The race has attracted the first ever runner from South Korea to the meeting in the shape of Blue Chipper. Talked of as the best horse ever trained in his home country he travels over from Seoul to Santa Anita but I will be Big Ass surprised if he wins!  

Breeders Cup Filly & Mares Turf

Magical is not here having been retired with immediate effect after a temperature prevented the Ballydoyle star travelling to the United States. Sistercharlie won this last year and has simply been the number one mare on Turf in the States since moving to Chad Brown in 2018. As soon as it was announced Magical was retired she shrunk in price to Evens. On all known form she should retain her crown and now looks one of the best bets of the evening.  

Breeders Cup Sprint

This is the last race I formed an opinion in but when I did it was one of my strongest. Mitole, Imperial Hint, Shancelot and Catalina Cruiser are the four market principals. I tipped Imperial Hint last year when third and stall 9 of 10 hasn’t enhanced his chances this year. Mitole is possibly better over slightly further than the six they face here and the same can be said of Catalina Cruiser. Shancelot is a true sprinter and gets the slight weight-for-age as a three-year-old. Though turned over by Omaha Beach in the G.1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes last time hopefully that won’t look so bad after that colt has won the Dirt Mile (see above). I think this one might be out and gone before the others get going and I have a taken a chance at 4-1 that he can burn off his older rivals.  

Breeders Cup Mile

Surprisingly this is one of the big Turf races in the world that Aidan O’Brien is yet to train the winner of. Circus Maximus, the St James's Palace Stakes and Prix du Moulin winner, will try to give him his first success. Talking in the build-up O’Brien said: “He has been very good back at a mile and we were delighted with him the last day. The plan was always to go to the Breeders’ Cup Mile with him. We think the track and everything will suit him well.” I hope so as I have the 3-1. Uni might be the home teams best hope.  

Breeders Cup Distaff

Third last year Midnight Bisou is clear favourite in the market and arrives unbeaten in 2019.  She has already beaten last years second Wow Cat twice this year and her biggest danger might be last years fourth Blue Prize. She looks a solid bet at 5-4 the biggest concern being her running style on a track that does favour horses on the pace but hopefully she'll be close enough to fly by late. There is a little British interest in Sophie Doyle (sister of James) riding three-year-old Street Band. They won the Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing to earn a "Win and You're In" berth but I can’t see them troubling the jolly. 

Breeders Cup Turf

Bricks and Mortar has been jolly in the build-up, not often you see a Yank horse top this market! He is five from five in 2019 including when beating Magic Wand in the G.1 Arlington Million XXXVII Stakes as his warm-up. He of course also won the G.1 Pegasus World Cup Turf back in January, Magic Wand second again. The concern is the 1m4f trip which is further than he has ever gone before; a mile-and-a-quarter is his ideal trip. That said I am not convinced this is the best line-up ever for this and if he stays he should leave this line-up trailing. I have 15-8. Anthony Van Dyck is the Ballydoyle runner in a race Aidan O'Brien has won six times including with back-to-back winner, and a favourite of mine, High Chaparral in 2002 and 2003. I tipped the colt when he won at Epsom but he hasn’t exactly franked the form since. We know he will stay the trip but has that Epsom victory left its mark? Old Persian won the G.1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine as a warm-up having won the G.1 Dubai Sheema Classic out in Meydan back in March. Beaten in the Coronation Cup and Grosser Preis von Berlin between those two victories he isn’t quite top-class though but as I said earlier this isn’t perhaps the best ever renewal.   

Breeders Cup Classic

We will be into the wee small hours of Sunday by post time for the big one, 12.44am. I said the Turf might not be the best ever renewal of that race and this probably won’t go down as one of the great Classic’s. McKinzie, Code Of Honor and Vino Rosso have been vying for favouritism in the build-up and are closely matched on what I have seen this season. McKinzie won the G.1 Whitney Stakes, Vino Rosso third, but then got turned over at odds-on in the G.1 Awesome Again Stakes over 1m1f here, not the most impressive prep. Mike Smith has lost the ride following that defeat and the 4YO will be ridden by Joel Rosario. He weakened out of contention last year and I think he simply doesn’t get home over 1m2f. Vino Rosso was demoted to second, I would argue harshly, giving Code Of Honor the win in the G.1 Jockey Club Gold Cup when they last met in September. Code Of Honor had won the G.1 Travers Stakes prior to that. I actually liked the way Vino Rosso battled to get back up to ‘win’, even if the Belmont Park Stewards didn’t, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes. The draw hasn’t been kind but you want one with some guts to win a Classic so the four-year-old is my tentative pick at 4-1.

29/10/19: Three more have been added to the portfolio and all are Yank horses! I have backed Bricks And Mortar to win the Breeders Cup Turf at 15-8, fingers crossed he stays the trip,  Midnight Bisou for the Distaff at 5-4 and with Magical retired Sistercharlie has been backed at Evens for the Breeders Cup Filly & Mares Turf as she is now one of the bets of the meeting. 

I have added to the ante-post portfolio backing Crystalle 12-1 each-way for the  Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She is clearly not one that’s going to lead but if she can break on better terms she could go by them all in the final furlong.

25/10/19: Two ante-post bets are on as of Friday 25th October, A'Ali is the pick in the  Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Wesley Ward stated in an interview just the other day talking about his Royal Ascot runner-up Kimari “Frankie can’t ride as he tells me he’s got a good one coming over for this race.” That ‘good one’ has to be A’Ali.

The other bet I've had is Omaha Beach for The Big Ass Fans Breeders Cup Dirt Mile to give it its full title this year (you don’t get sponsors like that at Royal Ascot). He looks possibly the Banker of the meeting!