Hello again dear readers
In today’s post, I’m travelling Stateside to sunny California. Specifically, to the San Gabrial mountains area of Arcadia and, more specifically, Santa Anita racecourse. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful racecourses in the world, it is, once again, hosting the racing spectacular that is The Breeders’ Cup. Below I’ve outlined my ideas on how some of the races look along, of course, with a few pointers on where my hard earned is going…
8.45 – MARATHON 1m6f (dirt)
A notoriously difficult race to analyse having only been added to the card since the meeting moved to a 2 day affair in 2008. Most US races are never over this far so the home breds are not suited to such a stamina test and most foreign raiders are unused to racing on the surface. I was lucky enough to have picked the 20/1 winner of last year’s renewal in the form of Calidoscopio but am far less confident this year!! It is probably worth noting that 3 of the 5 winning trophies so far have been taken away by the foreigners and that a good run LTO (preferably a win) has been the norm.
Because of this, I was initially drawn to the Canadian runner COMMANDER. That one, however, ran a stinker from the front in last years race eventually finishing 9th, and has never won over further than 1m3f. One that has distance form is another Argie, EVER RIDER, who won the same prep race as his compatriot last year. Unlike that one though, he is a front runner and there’s a few of those in here tonight so I’m none too sure he’ll be suited to this. Of the home team POOL PLAYER and INDIAN JONES look the most likely to be plodding on late and on their running in the muddy dirt over shorter (1m4f) it looks like IJ just has the edge. That is reflected in their respective prices, however, and I think he looks a tad on the short side for betting purposes. Therefore, against all sensible reasoning, I’m going for the UK raider LONDON BRIDGE. This one is also a front runner but looks a definite stayer and, despite being solely turf raced thus far, does have some dirt form in his pedigree thanks to his sire.
I’ve had a bit of the 8/1 on offer with Ladbrokes (e/w, small stakes) and will be looking at the PMU prices this evening in the hope he’s overlooked by the US market.
9.25 – JUVENILE TURF 1m
Another newish race on the card with only 6 runnings to have a look at to establish an idea of the likely winner. This one does favour the European runners thanks to the natural surface and the fact that the use of Lasix is still prohibited. Since many of the home team are used to being “hopped up” with it, they generally struggle without it. The Euros lead 4-2 so far and have won every renewal at Santa Anita.
The best of the US runners undoubtedly looks to be BOBBY’S KITTEN. He has been impressive this year and his trainer is typically bullish about his chances. Another front runner though which, while it means he’ll stay clear of any in-running trouble, could leave him exposed to a late closing rival at the business end (it’ll also be his first run without the aid of the “juice”). That has left me with 2 European challengers in the form of GIOVANNI BOLDONI and OUTSTRIP. Neither has run beyond 7f so far but GB looks bred to get further than this mile and Outstrip was closing when finishing 3rd in the Dewhurst last month. Both have excellent berths in stalls 2 and 4 respectively and both have the services of seriously good jockeys. Add in the fact that the speed ratings (taking into account the Beyer adjustments) look the best in here and I’m quietly confident one of the two will have his head in front come the finish.
Currently priced at 7/2 (Giovanni Boldoni) and 5/1 (Outstrip) my preference is marginally for the Godolphin runner but I’ll be backing both and keeping an eye out for the PMU prices again as the American money inevitably floods in for their own horses.
10.05 – DIRT MILE 1m(!)
Another newbie race and another with 6 previous runnings to have a look at. 4 from 6 of those winners have been 4yo with 1 each from the 3yo and 5yo age bracket. Interestingly, until last year every winner had been coming off the back of a run over further than the bare 1m. It’s also been a decent race for an outsider to be picking up the spoils.
There’s no point looking for anything other than a “home win” in this one I don’t think! The obvious starting point, and current favourite both sides of the pond, is VERRAZANO. He looks to me like he’ll actually get further than this but does have a huge best Beyer figure of 116 in this field so speed is clearly not an issue. Has copped a poor draw in 10, however, and will need to use up a lot of that speed to get to the front as he likes to do. At around 7/2 I’m happy to take this one on without being hugely surprised if he did go on and win it. The first one I’m siding with to take him on is GOLDEN TICKET. Another coming back from slightly further, he ran a creditable 4th behind Mucho Macho Man LTO, returning from a 2 month break. Ran well that day before fading in the last 100 yards. Good numbers on the Beyer system and I’ve had a nice e/w bet at the 10/1 on offer with Hills. I think he’ll be coming past beaten horses come the “lollipop”. At a much bigger price, I’ve taken a chance on HOLY LUTE as well. All to prove on the face of it having never raced in company this good and never on the dirt. According to track reports though, he’s been working on the dirt track like a monster, posting the best times two days running. With wily Mike Smith on board the 25/1 generally available for an e/w punt could look exceedingly generous by 10.07!!
10.50 – JUVENILE FILLIES TURF 1m
Yet another newish race and one that, on the face of it, should have suited the Europeans down to the ground(!). Raced on turf not dirt it’s fairly surprising the first win for one of ours only came last year – in fact we’d never troubled the exacta or trifecta judge in any of the previous runnings. That race last year could prove significant, however. It was the first time the aforementioned Lasix was outlawed and that’s the case again tonight. (Shockingly, in my opinion, that ban is due to be rescinded after this). It is likely to be a race with several hard luck stories since a lot of these would seem to like to come late off a strong pace. That could lead to some serious traffic problems as they try to mount a challenge.
All of that has led me to look at the European challenge first and of them all I’m favouring AL THAKHIRA. The biggest price of the three fancied runners at 6/1 (most firms), I’d give her a cracking chance. Unbeaten in two starts and winning both impressively, she’s bred to get this step up in trip, is well drawn in 2 and has the assistance of Ryan Moore. CHRISELLIAM has done little wrong but does like to have some cover and Richard Hughes will have to be at his very best to weave a path here. The Frenchie, and likely favourite, VORDA has some excellent form in the book but at 6f. A full 2f short of this trip. She’s undoubtedly full of speed and her trainer thinks she’ll stay but is a little more exposed than some of these and I’m not so convinced.
Of the American team, four have caught my eye in the shape of SKY PAINTER, READY TO ACT, MY CONQUESTADORY and KITTEN KABOODLE. Of those only one has been running without the juice (Sky Painter) but is drawn badly in 13, as are Ready to Act (11) and My Conquestadory (14). As a result, none will be carrying the extra burden of my cash but I have gone very left field with one other. The beast in question really shouldn’t have any chance of winning purely on form lines being a maiden from 3 attempts. Each race has seen her improve, however, and she’ll be finishing like a train at the death (traffic permitting!). At 40/1 with victor and 33/1 (paddy – bog), I’ve had a hopeful e/w tickle on COLONEL JOAN as well.
11.35 – DISTAFF 1m1f (dirt)
A race for the ladies over the Classic course and distance. A recent run (within 35 days) looks to be ideal preparation for this and that run had better be a good ‘un. It’s very rare for a winner to come here off the back of a shocker last time out. I’d also be looking for a gal who’s got a few runs under her saddle this year.
In fairness, all that pondering only rules out one of the six going to post and that’s the 50/1 rag Street Girl. This is the “story” race of the day with ROYAL DELTA going for the three-peat or, as we say in proper English, the hat-trick. She’s a tough nut to crack this one and I’m loathe to go against a bit of history making but she is 5 now and that is getting on a bit to win this (the last 14 winners have been 3 or 4). Her likely two main rivals are BEHOLDER and PRINCESS OF SYLMAR and both bring solid form to the table. Beholder has terrific course form over a 1/2 furlong shorter and was edged out over this distance by the Princess in a run at Churchill Downs earlier in the year. She’s likely to make a very bold bid from the front tonight and for me stamina is unlikely to be an issue. A bigger question is whether the other two are just a bit better. Authenticity is 6 now so that’ll make life tough and I’m not sure that the last runner of the sextet, Close Hatches is quite up to the standard of the three at the head of the market.
Looks like a no bet race for me to be frank but, if I’ve had a cracking wagering night, I shall probably throw a few quid at Beholder.
I hope that’s been interesting and/or informative and I’ll be back soon with a Saturday rundown.
Whatever you like tonight, enjoy the spectacle and good luck.