Breeders Cup 2023 – Santa Anita Friday 3rd & Saturday 4th November 2023

Breeders Cup Santa Anita 2023 Ante-Post Portfolio

Grade One 1m½f FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Muth 9-2

Update: What a couple of night of horse racing they served up at Santa Anita with a number of close finishes and some of the best race rides you will see for a long time! I finished the meeting +9.6 points to level stakes having found one winner on Friday and six on the Saturday card. 

It is the 40th running of the Breeders Cup World Championships this year and we are over on the West Coast at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Los Angeles, County California. Santa Anita is possibly most famous for being the venue where, in 1940, Seabiscuit won the Santa Anita Handicap on his last ever start. The Los Angeles Turf Club opened the present day track on Christmas Day in 1934, making it the first formally-established racetrack in California and this is the eleventh time the track has hosted the Breeders Cup.

I actually tested positive for bloody Covid on Thursday so I am confined to Triple G Towers for the weekend, but if I have to be stuck indoors all weekend it aint a bad weekend for it to happen! 

It’s a later start for us here in the UK than last year with the meeting 2,000 miles or so the other side of America to Keeneland where they raced last year. As they are racing on the West Coast the first of the Breeders Cup races is due off at 9.00pm our time on Friday with the last at 11.40pm and 6.30pm on Saturday with the last race off around midnight here in the UK; it’ll be a long couple of days with some late nights so get your beauty sleep in.

If like me you are here in the UK rather than across the pond in California you can still enjoy every race of the Breeders’ Cup weekend as Sky Racing will be all over it showing all the action of course as well as having plenty of special features in the build-up. ITV Racing will be on ITV3 from 8.30pm on the Friday evening for Future Stars Friday and from 6.00pm on ITV4 for all nine races on Saturday. ITV will actually show over 12 hours of live horse racing this weekend when you take into account the action here in the UK Saturday afternoon.

The Build-Up to the Breeders Cup Santa Anita 2023

Tuesday 2nd November: Sadly news is coming through of another non-runner at the meeting with Royal Ascot winner Bradsell being scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. The raiding party is down to just two in the race now Nunthorpe winner Live In The Dream and Aidan O’Brien trained Aesop’s Fables. I was interested to read Tom Marquand giving an update on Big Evs. “He went good this morning,” said Marquand. “He swung round the bend and was as quick as he will need to be on Friday. There are no written rules but what works will work, and with him it’s all about speed.” It's good to know he is taking the turns well as that is perhaps the biggest concern with him, we know he is very fast, but I had to wonder can he run a bend at speed and it appears he can. 

I have had just the one bet before the weekend in the shape of Muth for the Grade One 1m½f FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (Dirt). I think Power have it priced up all wrong and at 9-2 I am on the Bob Baffert trained colt. I thought he looked good winning the American Pharoah Stakes over the track and trip as his prep and will take all the beating in this' I honestly thought he would be favourite. 

Monday 1st November: The Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, the main event on Saturday has been dealt a blow with the news that ante-post favourite Belmont Stakes winner Arcangelo sadly misses the race having pulled off a shoe a few days ago. With Haskell Stakes victor Geaux Rocket Ride already ruled out after suffering a serious leg injury while working at Santa Anita on Saturday and Kentucky Derby winner Mage ruled out due to a fever the field has diminished somewhat. Haskell Stakes third, behind Geaux Rocket Ride and Mage, recent winner of the Pacific Creek Stakes, Geaux Rocket Ride a neck back in second, Arabian Knight is now jolly.

It is also being reported today that Algiers, one of the raiding parties big hopes and very much on my mind for the meeting, has been officially scratched from the Dirt Mile. Speaking at Santa Anita on Wednesday morning, Ed Crisford said “It’s really annoying to have lost Algiers from his race, he had bruising on his right front leg. It doesn’t look serious.”

Breeders' Cup Future Stars Friday

We have five races to get involved with on Future Stars Friday and hopefully I have a winner or five to get the meeting off to a flying start.

Grade One 5f Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

You would expect the raiding party will be looking to get off to a good start to the meeting in this but the Americans actually have what looks a strong hand especially George Weaver. Big Evs is the big hope for Europe off the back of his pretty straight forward victory in the G.2 Flying Childers Stakes last time. Unbeaten in his age group, he was beaten in the G.1 Nunthorpe taking on the older horses, he is arguably the best of the young sprinters in Europe. This will of course be his first time round a bend and that is always a slight concern for me with the two-year-old’s but Tom Marquand said earlier this week after some work on the track “He swung round the bend and was as quick as he will need to be on Friday. There are no written rules but what works will work, and with him it’s all about speed.” He can break at speed and as long as he does he has every chance. I am on at 11-4 in the hope the Europeans can get off to a winning start. Trainer Mick Appleby said this week “After Goodwood we thought about coming here and as to his blip in the Nunthorpe it came just two weeks after a hard race in soft ground and we put a line through it. In hindsight we shouldn’t have run at York, it was way too soon. Doncaster was a most impressive win and if he reproduces it he will take a lot of beating.” We got the see Crimson Advocate at Royal Ascot when she won the G.2 Queen Mary Stakes. As a filly she gets the 3lb allowance and stall one looks a good draw for one that knows how to break fast. She hasn’t been seen since June which is a slight concern. No Nay Nets won’t be hanging about in stall two either and the son of No Nay Never is also shortlisted.

Grade One 1m½f NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (Dirt)

Tamara has been as short as a shade odds-on in the build-up and has an obvious chance. Big race jockey Mike Smith said of his mount “She’s only two and she’s had only had two career starts, so she has a long way to go, but she’s about as good as you’d like to see. I was surprised, pleasantly, by how easily she won the Del Mar Debutante in her last race. She’s just a push-button horse.” The daughter of top-class mare Beholder is two from two and looks classy. Trainer Richaed Mandella said of her “Tamara is very different from Beholder and it’s difficult to really compare. However, I’d probably say at this stage in their careers, Tamara is probably a little ahead in her development. But the one thing they have in common is that they both liked to run.” She was very impressive in the G.1 FanDuel Racing Del Mar Debutante Stakes at Del mar last time and though short has to be backed at Evens.

Grade One 1m Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

This looks quite an open-affair with several in with chances. Team Crisford rely on Carla’s Way as their only runner at the meeting now. She caught the eye winning the G.2 Dubai Rockfel Stakes at HQ last time and the form has been franked by the second and third since finishing first and second in the G.1 bet365 Fillies' Mile. I noted Ed Crisford saying a few days ago “She can quicken off a quick pace which is what you need in America and that track should suit her well, a two-turn mile on quick ground. We opted not to go for the Fillies’ Mile because that mile at Newmarket on soft ground wouldn’t really be for her, but she’s got a lot of ability and is progressing with each run and looks like a filly who could be a lot of fun for the future. I’m sure she will run really well at Santa Anita.” Stall nine isn’t great but James Doyle rides American tracks well and should get her in a nice spot early before going clear late on. I am on at 7-2. Talking in Santa Anita Yesterday the trainer said “She’s taken everything in her stride, I couldn’t be happier with her and I think she goes in with a favourite’s chance. Hopefully she gets a clean trip and I’m sure she will be bang there at the finish.” G.1 6f Cheveley Park Stakes winner Porta Fortuna has to be considered as if she is going to get a mile at this stage of her career, the eighth-furlongs around here will give her a fair chance. She was ahead of he selection in the 6f Albany Stakes at the Royal Meeting but this is a different challenge. Les Pavots over from France has most of her form on soft which she won’t get here so She Feels Pretty is considered a bigger danger for the home team.

Grade One 1m½f FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (Dirt)

Another open looking race in which you can make a case for a few. The unbeaten Prince Of Monaco steps up in trip again having won at 5, 6 and 7-furlongs so far but his ability to see out the trip has to be questioned. Muth appeared to love stepping up in trip when winning the 1m½f G.1 American Pharoah Stakes over the track and trip as his prep; he was beaten by stablemate Prince Of Monaco over six before that run. I thought he might be jolly for this so happily took the 9-2 with Paddy Power Thursday evening - as low as 100-30 elsewhere. I saw Bob Baffert say in an interview recently “I freshened him up and look at the way he ran. He likes this track” and also “He’s had the experience of running two turns, so we kind of know what to expect. This is an outstanding horse.” I think Baffert should have the winner, hopefully I am on the right one. Locked from the stable of Todd Pletcher should be in the shake-up.

Grade One 1m Prevagen Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

With River Tiber now a non-runner I have had to re-think this race as I really fancied that colt. Stablemate Unquestionable, second in the 7f G.1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere last time, had always looked the likely biggest danger with that man Frankie Dettori in the saddle and he now heads the market. That last run at Longchamp was a decent effort where he was caught late on by Rossallion and on paper he has a few pounds in hand on the opposition. He has been beaten at short odds a couple of times though. Endlessly won the G.3 Zuma Beach Stakes over track and trip as his prep for this and puts his unbeaten record on the line stepping up in grade. My Boy Prince might run a big race at a fair price as well. I have gone with Agate Road who came from a long way back to win the 1m½f G.2 Pilgrim Stakes last time at Belmont Park. Todd Pletcher said in the build-up "We know he’s got a very good turn of foot. Hopefully, we can put him in a position to show it.” They'll likely go at a fair rattle here early and his ability to see out the trip should see him swoop late. I am on at 15-2

Breeders' Cup Saturday

I was off to a flyer on Friday with Big Evs but it all petered out after that for me sadly. With the all the shenanigans with the Vets and the late scratchings I have held off till this afternoon to put tonight's bets on; that and the damn Covid taking it out of me a bit! My nine fancies for Breeders Cup Saturday follow. 

Grade One 1m Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (Dirt)

Algiers was at the top of my shortlist for this but sadly he was found to have bruising on his right front leg earlier this week and is now a non-runner. It looks to me a much simpler task for Codys Wish now. Surprisingly beaten in the G.1 1m2f Whitney Stakes in August he was straight back to winning ways at Belmont last month over seven in the G.2 Vosburgh Stakes. He has been a bit unlucky with the draw recently, been out wide last twice, but is perfectly drawn in three here and Junior Alvarado should be able to put him in a perfect spot early (he can break poorly). The winner of this race last year he is the best miler in America and I am on at 4-5 as you can be sure Bill Mott will have him cherry ripe for this. Three-year-old Practical Move could give him something to think about getting the 3lb weight for age and the G.1 1m1f Santa Anita Derby winner is feared most of the opposition.

Grade One 1m2f Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf

This looks a competitive race on paper and unsurprisingly the Europeans have a few in here with chances. Inspiral is one I have tipped on multiple occasions and she arguably arrives in the form of her career after victories in the G.1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois and G.1 and G.1 Virgin Bet Sun Chariot Stakes. The step-up from a mile to 1m2f is the unknown with her but there are plenty of reasons to think she will get the trip; I was intrigued by one of the videos from track with a couple of the journalists out there for the big meeting discussing the fact she didn’t appear to take the bends to well in a morning canter on Wednesday, that has to be a concern. With The Moonlight is another I have tipped more than once from the yard of Charlie Appleby. She was of course beaten by the re-opposing In Italian in the 1m½f G.1 Jenny Wiley Stakes back in April at Keeneland before finishing down the field on soft in the 1m1f G.2 Dahlia Stakes at HQ and then returning to America to finish second in the G.1 1m2f E. P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine last month behind another of her opponents this evening, Fev Rover. She has plenty of experience Stateside but has a bit to find on paper. Warm Heart won the G.1 Prix Vermeille last time having taken the G.1 Yorkshire Oaks before that on both occasions showing her fighting spirit to prevail. Drawn in three she can be right on the early pace here and should prove hard to get passed. Dropping down in trip she has none of the questions to answer Inspiral does over 1m2f and Aidan O'Brien said of her in the build-up "She’s in great form and we had always intended to come here for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. She is dropping back in trip, but we are hoping that won’t be an issue for her. Physically, she is doing very well as the year progresses and we really liked her attitude in a battle in the Prix Vermeille." I am on the Ballydoyle filly at 11-4

Grade One 7f PNC Bank Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (Dirt)

Last year's winner Goodnight Olive is short enough but her chances are clear. Having chased home Echo Zulu in the G.1 Ballerina Handicap in the build-up she is clearly in form and with her old foe not here she has around 5lb on OR’s in hand on the rest of the field. Stall one certainly hasn’t hurt her chances and she looks a solid bet at Evens. Society looks the one most likely to follow her home.

Grade One 1m FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile presented by Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund

Mawj has a fair draw in six and the 1,000 Guineas winner has to be considered off her recent win at Keeneland which was a perfect warm-up for this having been off for over five months. I expect her to lead but just wonder if she may set this up for a closer with Casa Creed and Shirls Speight also drawn low and likely to not be hanging about early and they may cut each other's throats up front. Master Of The Seas has been on my shortlist for this for months but he has drifted in the betting this week having been allocated the widest stall in 14; that said the colt is a hold-up horse so it isn’t perhaps the disaster it would have been for others. I would have expected to see Buick drop his mount in off the early pace anyway and being drawn wide may in fact make this job a little easier. He is the best horse in the race I would suggest and has arguably the best jockey in William Buick on his back. Charlie Appleby has just a couple of runners at the meeting this year so you can be sure this one will be primed and ready to go. I think the Bookies over reacted to the draw pushing him out to 6-1 and have taken a bit of that. Up To The Mark who beat him at Keeneland last time getting up on the nod is in the Turf.

Grade One 1m1f Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (Dirt)

Idiomatic has been in great form this year, defeated just once, and took the G.1 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland over 1m1f last easing down in impressive fashion. She likes to lead, and is drawn to do so, and stays so basically ticks all the boxes for a race such this. Trainer Brad Cox has an excellent recent record in this contest and clearly fancies her chances saying recently “She’s a massive filly, she’s got speed, if she’s there early she’s going to be tough”. I am on at 9-4 and thought she might be shorter.  Adare Manor, a 6-time course winner, is considered the danger. 

Grade One 1m4f Longines Breeders' Cup Turf

Mostahdaf is set to retire after this run with the dual G.1 winner taking up stallion duties at Beech House Stud so it is fair to assume connections will want to see him go out on a high. He has had victories in the G.1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and the G.1 Juddmonte International at York this season and a comment from jockey Jim Crowley earlier this week really stood out for me “He has plenty of pace, and you can park him up anywhere. I’m very confident.” Having missed the Champion Stakes at Ascot two weeks ago due to poor ground the five-year-old arrives fresh and has to be shortlisted though this is possibly a little further at 1m4f than he likes. Onesto is good but tends to run well without winning. Up To The Mark is the hope for the home team, beat Master Of The Seas last time, but is unproven at this trip and is in with some top-class Europeans here. King Of Steel took the G.1 Champion Stakes at Ascot two weeks ago and I wonder if this race may come too soon after that run for the big son of Wooton Bassett; he has also seen the back end of Auguste Rodin more than once this year. Dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin bounced back from a shockers in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes by taking the 1m2f G.1 Irish Champion Stakes last time out and has to be shortlisted. Aidan O'Brien said recently "The Breeders’ Cup Turf has been the plan for him from a long way out. We feel the track will suit him, as will the quick ground. We’ve been really happy with him since Leopardstown. I really liked his performance that day. He doesn’t do much when he hits the front and has always been like that. You’d even see it in his homework. When he gets there, he pricks his ears. He has been doing everything right at home and we can’t wait to see what he does. He is a very important horse for the thoroughbred breed. He’s a combination of the best of Japanese blood with the best of European blood. He’s a unique type of horse." That line about this being the plan from a long way out tells you all you need to know and I am on the Ballydoyle colt at 9-4; he probably won't win by far but should win. 

Grade One 1m2f Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (Dirt)

I touched on the fact the race has lost some stardust this year with several withdrawals in the run-up to the meeting but it is still the Breeders' Cup Classic. Bob Baffert knows a thing or two about how to win this race. Since 2014 he has trained the winner a record four times and finished runner-up another three occasions. All four of his winners, Bayern (2014), American Pharaoh (2015), Arrogate (2016) and Authentic (2020) were 3-year-olds and led every step of the way, from gate to wire as they say, in each of their races. His charge this year, Arabian Knight, is also a 3-year-old year who is very, very fast, and has led every yard of his three career victories so far. His sole career defeat came in the G.1 Haskell Stakes when third having been off the track for 175 days after a minor setback. He was taken on for the early lead before being picked off in the straight tiring somewhat after so long off track. “The race was a disaster,” Baffert said recently “He was too fresh and wouldn’t rate on the lead. I think it showed his immaturity. But despite the outcome, we did learn from it.” The draw could have been kinder as he is out in twelve but he looked back to his best winning the Pacific Creek Stakes as his prep holding off Geaux Rocket Ride late on and his trainer is in bullish mood. “He’s healthy, he’s working well. There have been no hiccups,” Baffert said in the build-up “He’s ready. I know this is going to be a tough race, but if he brings his ‘A’ game, I don’t really care who’s running against us.” I have a bit of the 7-2 with Coral. Dubai World Cup winner Ushba Tesoro is over from Japan and clearly has some class but I worry about him being left out the back early, as that could leave him finding trouble everywhere he goes late on in this. White Abarrio has a decent draw and is feared having won the 1m1f Whitney Stakes as his prep, Zandon second. 

Grade One 5f Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint

It's all about speed at the end of the meeting. G.1 Nunthorpe Stakes winner Live In The Dream is the big hope for Europe and is considered but perhaps got found out when fourth to Arzak in G.2 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland, he was clear and got swallowed up late. He has the speed to lead here but surely won't get his own way on the front and I think this race may be set-up for a closer. Last years winner Caravel led every yard and a similar run must be the plan from stall three, just inside Live In The Dream, and they may well cut each others throat with blistering early pace. Motorious likes to have one to aim at off a fast pace and I think he can swoop late here as the others tire. I have taken a bit of the 5-1 about the speedballs drawn inside setting this up for this fast finisher. 

Grade One 6f Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint (Dirt)

The lucky last of the meeting. Elite Power and Gunite were both on my shortlist early but the draw hasn't exactly been kind to either. The Choosen Vron won the G.1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar over 6f on his latest outing in July overcoming some trouble in running. He clearly has a chance. Elite Power was denied a ninth straight win in the 7f G.1 Forego Stakes over at Saratoga last time with Gunite getting the better of him there. Back down to six I expect to see Elite Power back in the Winners Circle as this is the trip that suits the Juddmonte owned chestnut best. I have some of the 6-4. Don't go to bed early as this could be a cracking sprint.