Breeders Cup Turf Trends
One of the most evenly matched races between Europe and USA down the years, with the score currently standing at 16.5-12.5 (dead heat between High Chapparal and Johar here in 2003) to Europe.
But in recent years, despite a reversal last season, Europe has been dominant with ten and a half wins to America’s three and a half. That said, in the six Santa Anita versions, it’s 3.5-2.5 to America! Nevertheless, respect the Euros, whoever turns up.
A feature of the European winners – Fantastic Light, Red Rocks, Dangerous Midge – has been longer absences than their US counterparts. As much as two months have elapsed since a Euro last ran before scooting clear in the Turf, so don’t be concerned about an import off a break. After all, it’s a long way to go if the horse isn’t fancied!
On the domestic front, winners have tended to run much more recently, with the average being around four weeks.
The average number of runs in the season prior to winning the BC Turf in the last decade has been five. Shirocco did the biz off just two starts, but all other winners in that time had three to six runs.
Of all the 29 and two half-winners of the Breeders Cup Turf, only five have failed to place or run within four lengths of the winner last time out. From that quintet of dull last day efforts, two finished down the field in the best middle distance race on the planet, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Demand that your pick ran close and/or placed last time.
Five of the seven Turf-winning three-year-olds were from Europe. Of the other age groups, four-year-olds won fourteen of the remaining 22 (including both ‘halves’ of the dead heat); and, five-year-olds claimed the remaining eight prizes. No horse older than five has won the Breeders Cup Turf.
A win at this extreme (by American standards) distance is a pre-requisite for most winners. Indeed, in the last two decades, all bar four and a half winners failed on that score. One and a half had never raced at the trip; two more had finished second; and only last year’s winner, Little Mike, had failed to show anything from a previous run at the distance, albeit from just one try.
Key Breeders Cup Turf Prep Races
In Europe, the key prep is the Arc. But, this year, none of the three potential Turf entries contested that race, run on soft ground. The Irish Champion Stakes is also a Win and You’re In (WAYI) race, and that was won by likely runner, The Fugue.
In the States, the Joe Hirsch – previously the Turf Classic – is the pre-eminent trial, with seven domestic winners exiting that affair, five of them as winners. This year, Little Mike just held off the very unlucky Big Blue Kitten. Big Blue Kitten had himself won the United National, another WAYI event, earlier in the year.