Breeders’ Cup Compendium 2019 Review

What follows below is the full Breeders’ Cup Compendium report, so you can see what I liked, why I liked it, what I said about the winners, how the trends played out, how the picks played out, and anything else about which you might be interested.

There is an index at the top so you can click to the section you wish. Clicking the blue box with an arrow in it (bottom right, desktop only) will bring you back to the top – and therefore the index.

As I hope you can see, I put an enormous amount of effort into producing the Compendium, something which makes no business sense whatsoever for the relatively few copies I sell. But I love it, and I know a number of you do, too, so that’s that. It was a lot of fun to write, even if hard work.

Anyway, have a look and see what you think.


Breeders Cup 2019 Compendium

A Geegeez Publication, helping people have more fun with their betting since 2006


Introduction. 6

Notes. 7


8.12 pm GMT: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (5f, Turf) 8

Key Trends (2 renewals to date) 8

How the runners fit 8

Pace: 8

Key Trials: 8

Summary: 8

Trends Contenders: 10

Form Contenders: 10

Juvenile Turf Sprint Selection and review: 10

8.52pm GMT: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (1m, Turf) 11

Key Trends (12 renewals to date) 11

How the runners fit 11

Pace: 11

Key Trials: 11

Summary: 11

Trends Contenders: 13

Form Contenders: 13

Juvenile Turf Selection and review: 13

9.32pm GMT: Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies (1m½f, Dirt) 15

Key Trends (35 renewals to date) 15

How the runners fit 15

Pace: 15

Key Trials: 15

Summary: 15

Trends Contenders: 17

Form Contenders: 17

Juvenile Fillies Selection and review: 17

10.12pm GMT: Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (1m, Turf) 19

Key Trends (11 renewals to date) 19

How the runners fit 19

Pace: 19

Key Trials: 19

Summary: 19

Trends Contenders: 22

Form Contenders: 22

Juvenile Fillies’ Turf Selection and review: 22

11.03pm GMT: Breeders Cup Juvenile (1m ½f, Dirt) 23

Key Trends (35 renewals so far) 23

How the runners fit 23

Pace: 23

Key Trials: 23

Summary: 23

Trends Contenders: 25

Form Contenders: 25

Juvenile Selection and review: 25


6.55pm GMT: Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (7f, Dirt) 26

Key Trends (12 renewals so far) 26

How the runners fit 26

Pace: 26

Key Trials: 26

Summary: 26

Trends Contenders: 28

Form Contenders: 28

Filly and Mare Sprint Selection and review: 28

7.33pm GMT: Breeders Cup Turf Sprint (5f, Turf) 29

Key Trends (11 renewals so far) 29

How the runners fit 29

Pace: 29

Key Trials: 29

Summary: 29

Trends Contenders: 30

Form Contenders: 30

Turf Sprint Selection and review: 30

8.10pm GMT: Breeders Cup Dirt Mile (1m, Dirt) 32

Key Trends (12 renewals to date) 32

How the runners fit 32

Pace: 32

Key Trials: 32

Summary: 32

Trends Contenders: 34

Form Contenders: 34

Dirt Mile Selection and review: 34

8.54pm GMT: Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf (1m1f, Turf) 35

Key Trends (20 renewals to date) 35

How the runners fit 35

Pace: 35

Key Trials: 35

Summary: 35

Trends Contenders: 37

Form Contenders: 37

Filly and Mare Turf Selection and review: 37

9.36pm GMT: Breeders Cup Sprint (6f, Dirt) 39

Key Trends (35 renewals to date) 39

How the runners fit 39

Pace: 39

Key Trials: 39

Summary: 39

Trends Contenders: 41

Form Contenders: 41

Sprint Selection and review: 41

10.20pm GMT: Breeders Cup Mile (1m, Turf) 42

Key Trends (35 renewals to date) 42

How the runners fit 42

Pace: 42

Key Trials: 42

Summary: 43

Trends Contenders: 45

Form Contenders: 45

Mile Selection and review: 45

11.00pm GMT: Breeders Cup Distaff (1m1f, Dirt) 47

Key Trends (35 renewals to date) 47

How the runners fit 47

Pace: 47

Key Trials: 47

Summary: 47

Trends Contenders: 49

Form Contenders: 49

Distaff Selection and review: 49

11.40pm GMT: Breeders Cup Turf (1m4f, Turf) 50

Key Trends (35 renewals to date) 50

How the runners fit 50

Pace: 50

Key Trials: 50

Summary: 50

Trends Contenders: 52

Form Contenders: 52

Turf Selection and review: 52

12.44pm GMT: Breeders Cup Classic (1m2f, Dirt) 54

Key Trends (35 renewals so far) 54

How the runners fit 54

Pace: 54

Key Trials: 54

Summary: 54

Trends Contenders: 56

Form Contenders: 56

Classic Selection and review: 56



Howdy! And welcome the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Compendium, a collection of information designed to fast track your awareness of the various facets required for a successful Breeders’ Cup wagering expedition.

For the tenth time, and the first since 2016, BC XXXVI (36, count them) returns to gorgeous Santa Anita Park, California. The weather is warm, and the home team often have an edge over east coast and European shippers. An edge, but far from a monopoly.

The track has a relatively short home straight, and the Filly and Mare Turf, and Turf, races will commence on the quirky Oak Tree strip which cuts a tangent onto the main turf track.

The guide has much lots of information for each race, as follows:

  • Race trends
  • Trends grid showing how contenders match up
  • Pace analysis
  • Key Trials links to race videos on the website
  • Form summary
  • Contenders, and Possibles
  • My pick

It is, of course, up to you, the reader, how you use the info. Some will treat it as a starting point for their own study, others will see it as an end point and follow me in on various selections.

However you decide to use this guide, please bet responsibly (duh!) and remember that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially in pursuit of a late night weekend winner. 😉

All that said, I hope the information within these covers provides for profit as well as fun.

Right, let’s get to it!

Matt Bisogno


Some shorthand has been used in the grids within this document, as follows:

*= a Racing Post Rating, rather than a Beyer speed figure (US rating). The comparison, which is not exact, is that RPR is roughly 12-15 points higher than Beyer

s= ran within four lengths of the leader

t= turf run

2 or 3 in ‘G1 winner? Column’ = 2nd or 3rd in a Grade/Group 1

‘Bullet’ workouts are the fastest timed workouts of the day at a specific track/distance

SoCal: Southern California / RW: Road Warrior (has travelled a lot)

Ran sharp = A reference to finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd, or within 4 lengths of the winner, used in the BC bible, Crushing The Cup

Figs = figures, i.e. Beyer or RPR

Lasix = a permissible drug in USA that helps prevent horses from bleeding, banned in UK

LTO = Last Time Out

Wire = a confirmed front runner

Stalk = a prominent racer

Rally = a closer, or late runner, normally held up in the early part of the race

PACE: LR = Last Run, 2LR = 2nd Last Run, 3LR = 3rd Last Run, 4LR = 4th Last Run

Scores: 4 – LED or less than ½ length from lead; 3 – ½ L to 1 ½ L; 2 – 1 ¾ L – 3 ¼ L; 1 – 3 ½ L+

Also Eligible / AE: In preference order, only get a run if others in the main order do not.

Horse Name2: The 2 after a horse’s name denotes second preference




8.12 pm GMT: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (5f, Turf)

Key Trends (2 renewals to date)

A new race, which was run for the first time on the undercard last year, and now gets full Breeders’ Cup status for the first time.

  • First four home were all Euros in 2017, 1st-2nd USA in 2018 (3rd-4th Euro’s)

How the runners fit


Most of these are pretty exposed and have pronounced run styles. Expect it to be quick early, with Band Practice and Dr Simpson, as well as potentially Kimari and, if he gets a run, Bulletproof One all vying for front end primacy. There may be scrimmaging on the turn for home so it’s a race where we’ll need luck to find the winner.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


Probably not a race in which to go all in, this looks messy and potentially unpredictable. The best British and Irish form is probably brought by A’Ali, a horse who had the sectional boys purring on debut, and who went on to win three Group 2’s, all at five furlongs, including the Norfolk at Royal Ascot. But he’s never raced around a turn in five career starts and that’s a big question mark on this tight track.

The same lack of turn racing experience comment applies to Archie Watson’s Band Practice. She’s won her last three of five starts, the latest in a small field Listed race in France. She handles quick ground and is clearly progressive. Archie saddled Soldier’s Call in the race last year, and he was drawn in stall two as well. A general fast starter he fluffed his lines and could never get into it thereafter. The same connections, including owners Clipper Logistics, will be hoping for a better beginning this time.

Of the other Euros, Dr Simpson doesn’t look to be good enough on known form. But… she is two from two around a left hand turn, that pair including a win around similarly tight Chester (by seven lengths) and in Group 3 company on the all weather at Dundalk last time. She has bags of experience and will be blinkered for the first time.

Dream Shot has a win around a turn – over six furlongs at Chelmsford – and was second in that Dundalk Group 3 behind Dr Simpson. Thus his only experience of turning tracks is on the all weather, though he has run to a similar level on straight turf tracks.

King Neptune won his only turning track start, on debut at Dundalk. Again, that’s not turf form, his three grass five furlong spins all being on soft ground and all resulting in defeat. By War Front out of a Speightstown mare he’s bred to be quick and to love dirt, so perhaps he’s yet to find his metier.

Fast ground and five furlongs look to be what Alligator Alley wants, but he too is yet to race around a bend. Moreover, he disappointed behind A’Ali and Dream Shot at Doncaster last time. He’d be a surprise winner for me.

So much for the British and Irish challenge, which looks to largely comprise the wrong types of horse; what of the home defence?

We saw Kimari at Royal Ascot earlier in the season, when she ran a fantastic race in the Queen Mary to finish a head second to Raffle Prize. That filly has franked the form with a further G2 score and two runners up finishes in G1 company. As for Kimari, she’s otherwise undefeated in three further races, the two since Ascot being ungraded stakes.

She is versatile tactically, sees out 5 ½ furlongs, and is a legitimate favourite for trainer Wesley Ward. Ward has run three in each of the first two renewals, finishing 000 in 2017 and 268 in 2018. It surely won’t be long before he hits his mark in a race tailor made for his yard.

The next best of the Americans, and a second string to the Ward bow, could be Four Wheel Drive. This American Pharoah colt is unbeaten in two, most recently winning a Belmont Park Grade 3 by three lengths. There he stalked a quick first quarter and readily went clear in the straight. That was six furlongs but he gave the impression that last day that he’d be able to live with the drop back in trip. (Another Miracle was well beaten in behind).

It will be interesting to see if Wesley’s Cambria can handle the drop back in distance. The Speightstown filly is three-from-three thus far, winning her first race on grass last time over 6 ½ furlongs in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, a Listed race. She has the widest draw, however, and is yet to register a fast time.

Chimney Rock was a close second in that Ky Downs race and five looks his trip for now. Where Cambria has drawn the car park, Chimney has the rail which, for a slow starter like him, is probably as bad. He’ll need to be ridden for luck most likely.

Encoder is somewhat interesting. He won over this trip on debut before stepping all the way up to a mile and winning a Listed race. He then ran reasonably in a decent race of the same grade, and drops right back here. Drawn midfield, with a midfield run style, he may finish better than midfield though he too has yet to burn the clock.

Trends Contenders:

A’Ali, Kimari

Form Contenders:

Kimari, Four Wheel Drive

Juvenile Turf Sprint Selection:

A tricky race where luck in the run is a prerequisite for victory. The two form picks are the top US pair, Kimari and Four Wheel Drive, both trained by Wesley Ward. Slight preference is for Kimari, whose Ascot run was creditable for lots of reasons: the straight track would have been more stamina-testing than ideal, the soft turf would too. She was given a faintly bonkers ride by ‘Money’ Mike Smith last time and John Velazquez gets the gig this time. He’s first choice for jockey for Wesley which implies slight stable preference for Kimari, though Irad Ortiz, Jr. did ride FWD last time and keeps the mount.

At bigger – much bigger – prices, I’m slightly drawn to Dr Simpson. She’ll surely be a million on the US tote and that’s likely the way to play her. She’s been impressive in her two races around a turn, has bags of experience and gets blinkers – and potentially Lasix – for the first time.


Back Kimari at 3/1 general

Back Dr Simpson on the US tote (currently 25/1 with Victor, Hills, Unibet, Fred)


Juvenile Turf Sprint Review:

The European straight track form was again no good. I remember Sir Mark Prescott admitting to the press before Marsha’s Turf Sprint bid that, in order to give his straight track class act some experience around a turn, they’d taken her to Chelmsford where she failed to go left at the bend!

Quite simply, if backing a Euro in this, insist on turning track form. Dr Simpson, at 59/1 on the US tote, was best of the Europeans but was only good enough for fifth overall.

Wes seemed to get tactics spot on by having one of his pair of fancied horses on the front (Four Wheel Drive) and one held up (Kimari) in case the pace collapsed. It nearly did, but FWD won comfortably with Kimari closing fast and late in third.


8.52pm GMT: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (1m, Turf)

Key Trends (12 renewals to date)

  • Euro 8 US 4 (5-2 in California)
  • 2-6 runs (10/12 had 3 to 5 runs – Prior Starts: 2-1/3-2/4-6/5-2/6-1)
  • 3/4 US won at 1m+, only 3/8 Euro won at 1m (incl ’17 & ’18 winners, however)
  • 1st-3rd Fav 6 from 36 (12 renewals) – incl fav in ‘17, 2f in ’18
  • 12/12 Top 3 LTO or within 2L of winner
  • 0 Front Runner winners (7 CLOSERS, 5 PROMINENT)
  • 6 of the 9 Euro winners plus Hootenanny recorded RPR of 110+; ’16 winner 108 LTO, ’18 winner 105 LTO
  • 8/8 Euro winners placed in G1/2 LTO, or won lesser stakes; 3 of last 5 Euro winners placed in Dewhurst LTO (’18 winner won G3 LTO)
  • 4/4 US winners had won a Stakes and were placed 123 in all Stakes runs
  • Euro winners 20-42 days absent (5/8 20 or 21 days); US 20, 35, 49, 68 days absent
  • Pilgrim Stakes considered a key prep: got 1st win in ’16, Oscar Performance
  • Only 4 WAYI races have produced Juv Turf winner; only ONE WAYI winner has won Juv Turf (Sum=Summer Stakes, Pil=Pilgrim, Bou=Bourbon, Cha=Champagne)

How the runners fit


Graceful Kitten and War Beast may have more early dash than Fort Myers, but all three have led in at least two of their most recent three starts. This may be a race set for a closer. None of the dozen Juvenile Turf’s have been won by a front-runner.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


Europe lead the home team 8-4, and 5-2 when the race has been hosted in California. Arizona is a solid favourite to extend the visitors’ advantage, though he will have to overcome a tough draw in 12 of 14. If the early meter is quick, which it looks like being, that should assist Ryan Moore in securing a good position.

This son of No Nay Never has been beaten on his last three starts, all in Group 1 company, but all highly creditable performances. Giving best to Pinatubo twice and Earthlight, first and second favourites for next year’s 2000 Guineas, is easily the pick of the form in the field. He’d previously won the Coventry at Royal Ascot, another form uplift on his rivals.

The question of stamina is a legitimate one: bred for speed paternally, he is out of an English Channel (sire of two runners in the mile and a half BC Turf) mare, and that gives hope he’ll see out the additional range. Aidan O’Brien has won this four of the dozen times it has been run.

The only other European entry is also Aidan’s, Fort Myers. If Arizona drew poorly in 12, this lad got unlucky 13. Wow, APOB has been dealt some poor cards in the draw this year. He’s by War Front out of the 1000 Guineas-winning mare, Marvellous, so bred well for this job. Fourth in the Coventry has been followed by minor placings in minor Group races prior to scoring in a Dundalk Listed race last time. It is not impossible to see him being in the shake up, though if he tries to go forward from 13 he will surely perish come the sharp end.

Two Europeans, twelve domestics then, means we are heavily outnumbered regardless of the class of Arizona. Pick of the Americans might be Decorated Invader, a winner of his last two including the Grade 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine. He travelled powerfully there off steady-ish fractions and was much the best in the home straight. He looks a smart colt and should handle the quicker Santa Anita turf (won his maiden on firm turf).

Structor is Chad Brown’s entry. As dominant as he’s recently been in the fillies’ equivalent race, he’s yet to strike from eleven entries in this one. He does have a number of placed efforts to his name, and this unbeaten son of Palace Malice had Andesite and Our Country close behind in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes last time.

Although he’s (much) shorter in the betting than the other pair, I’m not certain that is justified. Yes he’s unbeaten in two, but both the re-opposing duo had imperfect trips.

Andesite was trapped on heels for more than a furlong before closing to within a head of Structor at the line. His run in the G3 With Anticipation can be marked up, too. That was run at a crawl and he looks the type to run his best races off a much more solid gallop, which I expect he will get here.

Our Country, meanwhile, has been sent of 6/5 and 4/1 in his last two races – the same pair as Andesite – and has suffered tough trips in both. He was badly hampered early in the With Anticipation, a race that didn’t suit a closer (50+ seconds for the half mile!), and he got fanned seven wide into the home straight in the Pilgrim.

There’s no guarantee he’ll enjoy better fortune this time but both of the placed horses from the Pilgrim look too big in relation to Structor.

I do like a Florida horse in these juvenile races and Graceful Kitten fits that bill. He’s unbeaten in three – a maiden and two minor stakes races – and has led from start to finish in the two stakes. His numbers are not far behind the Pilgrim protagonists and he ran the last quarter mile in his most recent start in an impressive 23.3 seconds. He will be fun to watch.

Another of the key preps for the Juvenile Turf is the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes, won this year by Peace Achieved from Vitalogy and Gear Jockey, all of whom line up again now.

Mark Casse, trainer of Peace Achieved, has five Breeders’ Cup wins including three on the lawns so he knows how to prepare one. This lad has won all three of his races at a mile-plus, having failed twice at sprint trips at the start of his career.

But he had nothing to spare over Vitalogy in the Bourbon. That horse, formerly trained by Joseph O’Brien, came with a remarkable run to claim second: he was fully eleven lengths back at the first call and would have won in another two strides. Like Our Country, if he gets a quick pace setup he is interesting at double-figure odds.

Gear Jockey rounded out the Bourbon trifecta but, while it is not beyond the realms of plausibility for him to improve past the 1-2 that day, it is pretty unlikely. He remains a maiden after three starts.

Billy Batts is one from six lifetime, that in a maiden, and he looks outclassed; similar comments apply to front-running War Beast, whose main role might be to keep Graceful Kitten honest at the head of the field.

That pair filled out the podium behind Hit The Road in the Listed Zuma Beach Stakes over course and distance. Dan Blacker’s colt is unbeaten in two turf starts and improved massively from first to second try on the surface. He was pulling hard early and yet still ran an 11.5 second final furlong to prove different gravy to that field. This is a vast step up in grade but he has earned it.

Trends Contenders:

Arizona, Decorated Invader, Structor, Fort Myers, Hit The Road, Andesite, Graceful Kitten (all green with one amber)

Form Contenders:


Juvenile Turf Selection:

This looks Arizona’s to lose. True he’s not much of a price considering he has stall 12 but he appears to have a notable class edge on these if Moore can steer a path with him.

While Decorated Invader ought to run well, he too will need luck in running as a closer drawn inside. In the circumstances, it might be worth swinging each way at a couple who have the chance to reverse form with their last day conquerors granted better fortune in transit.

Our Country gets Johnny V (Velazquez), 16 BC wins to his name, for the first time and he should not be a 25/1 shot.

Your first 30 days for just £1

And Vitalogy was clearly the best horse in the Bourbon even if he did have to settle for second. 10/1 is fair enough.

Luck will be needed for many rounding the home turn, in which circumstances I’ll play those two for small money. Hit The Road is another interesting contender.


Back Vitalogy each way at 10/1 general

Back Our Country each way at 25/1 Coral/sportingbet

Consider backing either Vitalogy or Our Country in the ‘without favourite’ market


Juvenile Turf Review:

Vitalogy was a late scratch for the unfortunate Brendan Walsh, who also lost Maxfield to a minor niggle. Our Country got a tough trip, like many others, and might have just about won if he’d had the run that Structor – who did won – had got. Arizona was the best horse in the race but had much too much to do.

9.32pm GMT: Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies (1m½f, Dirt)

Key Trends (35 renewals to date)

  • 15 of the last 17 had 3-5 career starts (exceptions, 2 starts, ’07 and ’17)
  • Last 17, career runs: 2-2,3-6,4-6,5+-3
  • Layoff: 30/35 were running within 30 days (‘16 winner 35 days off); (32/35 5 weeks off or less)
  • 28/35 (80%) had a Grade 1, 2 or 3 win, from c.60% of the runners. 3/7 non-qualifiers placed in Frizette (incl. ’17 winner)
  • 19/24 improved Beyer when racing 7f+ for 1st time (excludes pre-Beyer BC’s and winners with no 7f+ form)
  • 90+ Beyer = very strong, 80+ 1 or 2 starts = strong
  • 32/35 were top 4 or less than 4L behind the winner last time out
  • Favourite is 18/35 (51%)
  • “Look beyond the obvious when trials were slow”, favour lightly raced improver
  • 21/35 (60%) had NOT won at the distance

How the runners fit


As with all of the juvenile races, establishing the likely pace is difficult due to the lightly raced nature of most runners. That said, Wicked Whisper has led on both starts to date and the uber-impressive maiden winner, Donna Veloce, also showed a ton of early speed.

Again, a common thread in the 2yo races is that they tend to go too fast early.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


A fascinating race where it might pay to take a chance on a longshot. Why? Consider the following:

  • The last three Santa Anita Juvenile Fillies winners paid $66.60, $125.40, and $69.20 for a $2 win bet. That’s 32/1, 62/1 and 33/1.
  • These shocks tend to happen when there is no outstanding filly in the field, and that appears to be the case again this year with the highest Beyer speed figure recorded being Wicked Whisper’s 87

That’s enough to justify looking deep into the field, but first let’s consider one other Santa Anita-based point: six (plus one disqualified winner) of the nine SA Juvenile Fillies’ races were won by a local (Southern Californian) runner. The other two were big outsiders.

Favourite, though uneasy, is Bast. Beaten on her debut she’s since won the Del Mar Deb and Chandelier Stakes, the former by a wide margin. That 7f contest has isolated the Juvenile Fillies winner in four of the last six SA renewals, with two of them winning both contests.

But Bast’s sectional figures are weak: her closing furlong finishing speed in a, granted, sharply run Del Mar Deb was 91% of the race time. And, in a very steady Chandelier, she recorded a 97% finishing speed for the last 2 ½ furlongs. She also looked a possible non-stayer.

In spite of all that, she won both contests, digging in well in the latter, and she might win this. But she’s not an exciting price.

Behind her in both races was Comical. She was ridden from behind in the Deb, making up three lengths in the second half of the race; and from the front in the Chandelier, just giving best in a tussle the length of the home straight. K P Dreamin was three further back there.

I’m just really uncertain of the merit of these two form lines.

Vying for favouritism is the once raced Donna Veloce. She cantered over a field of maidens at this track on her sole start, going through a fast opening quarter and maintaining her speed well (95.2% finishing speed for last 2 ½ furlongs, eased down). She takes a quarter mile step up in trip, for which she is bred (by Uncle Mo out of a Montjeu mare).

Friday will be a huge step up in both class and distance and, while she could take both in her notable stride, she too is opposable at a price of around 3/1. She represents California-based British trainer, Simon Callaghan.

Rounding out the SoCal runners is bargain buy Lazy Daisy, who cost just $39,000. She left her Del Mar Deb fourth well behind when making virtually all in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs on her first attempt at a mile and a sixteenth last time out. Whilst it was slow motion stuff in the lane there, Lazy Daisy recorded a new top speed figure by double digits (66 > 77). That’s some way below other contenders but she could improve again at the trip.

The East Coast raiders have a moderate record in this when it has been hosted at Santa Anita. Top of their pile is probably the Steve Asmussen (of Gun Runner fame)-trained Wicked Whisper. She’s unbeaten in two, the more recent of which was the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes.

Completely untroubled on the lead that last day, the daughter of Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map made the most of her ‘easy’. She’s unlikely to get an uncontested advantage this time and that makes her opposable notwithstanding that she too could step forward again on what will be only her third career start.

It is rare for me to strike an ante post bet in this race, and in truth I only really did it because one firm had left up 10/1 about a filly that was 7/2 and 4/1 everywhere else. That filly is British Idiom, who romped the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes last time.

She was pressed on both sides early on, took a pull in the back straight, and still opened up to win by 6 ½ lengths over the Juvenile Fillies distance. The time was solid – 95% finishing speed for last 2 ½ furlongs off quickish early fractions – and she is trained by Brad Cox, who has a remarkable 26% win rate in 2019 from over 750 starters.

Unbeaten in two now, she stepped up 14 Beyer points from first to second start (and from sprint to ‘route’). She might be the most solid at the top of the market.

The Hail Mary in the field could be Two Sixty. A relative veteran of four starts, she has won two of them. In the losing pair she was beaten on a sloppy track in one, and the jockey fell off in the other, both excusable. She’s another possible pace angle, has recorded a good figure at the distance and comes here off the same Floridian prep double (Susan’s Girl and My Dear Girl Stakes) as the 1986 and 2010 winners, Brave Raj and Awesome Feather. She might be a massive price on the tote board.

Perfect Alibi looks a bit skinny to me even at around 12/1. She was stuffed by British Idiom in the Alcibiades, has had more racing – and is therefore more exposed – than her rivals, and has never run a fast time. Yes, she has a G1 score to her name, but nothing from that 7f Saratoga event is shipping west, presumably because connections don’t think they’re good enough.

Trends Contenders:

Bast, British Idiom, Wicked Whisper

Form Contenders:

Bast, Donna Veloce, British Idiom, Wicked Whisper

Juvenile Fillies Selection:

This is extremely tricky with almost none of them easily discarded. The exception to that for me, based on price and prospects, is Perfect Alibi, so she’ll probably win!

From the fancied runners I’ve backed British Idiom and she may still be a dribble of value at a general 4/1. Donna Veloce is a classy unknown quantity but she’s short enough; Bast is a Baffert runner but she too is tight in terms of price.

I don’t really like East Coast horses in this race when it’s held at Santa Anita, and I’m not sure Wicked Whisper will be the same horse if unable to dominate, so she’s off my list. Obviously, though, it’ll be no surprise if she is good enough.

It’s a race where I’m happy to have a go for smallish stakes – split stakes as it happens – and my pair of prayer mat picks are Two Sixty and Lazy Daisy. The former is the best of Florida, an unfashionable angle that has isolated two previous winners (albeit much better fancied fillies); and the latter improving markedly for the step up to this distance.

It’s a very open race indeed.


Back Two Sixty at 20/1 general and / or Lazy Daisy at 14/1 Hills each way

Juvenile Fillies Review:

Nothing from the two long shots, with British Idiom, “still a dribble of value at 4/1” winning at around a point shorter. She was one of very few fillies to come from far back, a nod to her superior stamina in a field that tired badly on the testing track.

10.12pm GMT: Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (1m, Turf)

Key Trends (11 renewals to date)

  • 8/9 US winners ran in Miss Grillo or Natalma, ’17 winner exited Jessamine
  • US 9 Euro 2 (both Euro in the two non-Lasix years)
  • 10/11 finished top 3 or within 1.5L of the winner last time out (exception ran in Miss Grillo)
  • 10/11 won at 1m+ (exception, Flotilla, 1.5L behind in Arc weekend G1)
  • All 11 finished top 3, or within 1.5L of the winner, in a Stakes race
  • Frontrunners 2, Prominent 5, Late runners 4
  • Layoff: 3wks-2 / 4wks-2 / 5wks-5 / 7wks-2 (Euro 4-5wks)
  • Prior Runs: 2-6; 3-1; 4-2; 5-1; 6-1
  • 80+ Beyer – 7/9 recorded 81+ (other 2 had only 2 starts)
  • 2 Euro winners prepped in G1 races (1st, 1.5L 4th)
  • Chad Brown has trained 5 JFT winners (4 in California) , incl. 4 of the last 5
    • 4 of Chad’s 5 won the Ms Grillo – Selflessly
  • All US exacta: 5/11

How the runners fit


Not obviously stacked with early pace, Karl Burke’s rail runner Living In The Past could bid to make all if she breaks alertly. Otherwise, Abscond, who led last time, and Tango could also go forward. But this might be a packing field on the home turn.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


The “Chad Brown Juvenile Fillies Turf”… Brown has won this race five times, including the last three, and four of the last five. This time he saddles Selflessly, undefeated in two and following the Chad blueprint of a maiden race then the Ms Grillo Stakes.

And yet she’s close to a double-figure price, so what gives? It’s a bit of a head scratcher but, firstly, she’s not yet run a fast time. She is the second quickest of the Americans on the Beyer speed numbers all the same and it may not take a big number to win if it comes up tactical. Secondly, she’s drawn in 13, which is not good. And thirdly, the runner up in the Ms Grillo, Crystalle, looked more like the one to take from the race.

Crystalle was ridden cold as ice at the back of the field but managed to pass all bar the winner, whose margin was a diminishing three-quarters of a length. That was her third start, to Selflessly’s second, and she’s closed from far back each time. If the pace is strong it will certainly suit her.

Next let’s consider the Aidan O’Brien and wider European conundrum. Aidan has never won this race despite saddling twelve fillies in it. He was 2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017 but, considering his fine record in the Juvenile Turf, it’s a mystery as to why the JFT has passed him by thus far. My best theory, and this could be miles from reality, is that flying his team in so late doesn’t give these inexperienced young ladies time enough to acclimatize and recover from the flight.

More widely, Europe have only won this twice in the eleven renewals, from 39 runners; and those two winners were in the two years when Lasix, the legal drug used on most horses in America, was banned in the two-year-old races. Coincidence? Maybe, though fillies like East last year have run second as well as Aidan’s brace of silvers.

What does it all mean? Probably no more than that the value play may generally be an American filly with a British bookmaker. On the day, the markets will tighten up to better reflect the American pools, so earlier in the week is the time to get involved.

As usual, Europeans fillies head the UK markets, and it is the Jessie Harrington-trained Albigna that is slight favourite. She won a mile Group 1 in France last time, though that was on a right-handed track and in soft ground. This firm left-handed oval offers a very different test which she will probably, but not definitely, handle.

Daahyeh, trained by Roger Varian, has never gone beyond seven furlongs and never raced around a turn. She was beaten on her only start on good to firm, albeit in a strong Group 2. She does give the impression that a mile will suit and, with a kind draw, she’s a perfectly plausible winner.

The first choice local on the US ‘morning line’ (tissue prices) is Sweet Melania. She’s relatively experienced for an American filly in this race, having already raced five times. Another daughter of American Pharoah, she was beaten twice at sprint distances before improving dramatically at around a mile, most recently running away with the G2 Jessamine Stakes, a ‘win and you’re in’ for this, by 5 ½ lengths.

She is the quickest of the domestic brigade, comes here off a huge career best and is something of a ‘now’ filly.

As well as the Ms Grillo and Jessamine Stakes, the other recognised trial for the Juvenile Fillies Turf is the Natalma Stakes run at Woodbine in Canada. This year’s renewal was won by Abscond in a driving finish from Walk In Marrakesh and the re-opposing Fair Maiden. While the Ms Grillo and Jessamine are Grade 2’s, the Natalma is a Grade 1.

This year it was a muddling affair, however, run in a slow time on yielding turf, with a nose and a neck separating the aforementioned trio.

Fair Maiden had previously recorded two very big numbers, one on all-weather and the other on yielding turf, both at sprint trips. There are questions marks then about fast ground and the trip in a truly run race, but she might still be too big at 16/1. Abscond, for her part, has upside as an unbeaten-in-one miler (she had two spins at five furlongs also), but I wouldn’t expect her to finish in front of Fair Maiden this time unless the Maiden fails to handle the quick turf. [The runner-up in the Natalma won this race in 2010 and the winner of that Woodbine contest won this in 2015]

Plenty more Euro interest in the field, headlined perhaps by an Aidan O’Brien brace, Tango and Etoile. The former has won two of eight races, all at seven-eighths or shorter, and she doesn’t look good enough to me: unequivocal defeats in a couple of Group 1’s attest to a class ceiling, and I’d not want to infer her recent heavy ground Listed win literally in the context of a Santa Anita Grade 1 contest.

Etoile is much more interesting, at least she was until she drew the widest stall of all, 14. That certainly doesn’t help in what may be a steadily run event, as she could have to travel further around the outside or else take back and ride for luck. Giving a head start in what could end up being a tactical race is not a good situation. Her form credentials are robust: two runs, the first a debut victory in a Group 3 and the second a better-than-the-bare-form effort in the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes, suggest she’s well regarded at Ballydoyle. She’s one to watch going forwards I suspect, regardless of how she goes here.

Andrew Balding is over for the party: he brings Shadn, winner of half her six races to date. She was last seen scoring in a soft ground six-furlong French Group 2 and will find this plenty tougher. (As a measure of the paucity of top-class French horses this season, only two have travelled for the Breeders’ Cup. British and Irish raiders have farmed the French Pattern in 2019).

Living In The Past is another Clipper Logistics-owned entry, this time trained by Karl Burke. She’s a fast starter drawn inside and, in a generally waited-with cohort, she should be able to lead into and perhaps out of the first turn. Front runners have a poor record in the race: only the completely different class Newspaperofrecord last year and Catch A Glimpse in 2015 have been able to go wire to wire. But Living In The Past could get first run.

Joseph O’Brien has smuggled a run for Unforgetable from the fourth Also Eligible position, and she’s a tad interesting. On the face of it her form is not good enough, she’s too slow and she comes here off the back of a disappointing last race.

But that previous spin was her first on the all-weather, it was against the boys, and she was staying on best over seven furlongs. Her best piece of form is when she was second to Love at Leopardstown over seven. She’s bred for at least a mile and Leopardstown is a left-handed oval like Santa Anita (though much bigger, granted). Love has since won the G1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and would be a short-priced favourite in this field.

Granted, Unforgetable was beaten three lengths by Love, but that still gives her a squeak in this.

The dirt bred Sharing has run her two best (of three) races on grass, though the form isn’t at Graded level. And the unpronounceable Croughavouke, formerly trained in Ireland by Aidan Fogarty, has been twice beaten in local Listed races. She’d be a shock winner.

Trends Contenders:

Selflessly, Crystalle, Sweet Melania

Form Contenders:

Daahyeh, Albigna, Selflessly, Sweet Melania

Juvenile Fillies’ Turf Selection:

A very tough race and a light betting heat for me. Daahyeh may be the best of the European challenge, though the likes of Albigna and Etoile could take a piece of the action, too. Etoile especially is interesting but that 14 stall is off-putting.

Equally off-putting is the 13 box for Selflessly, who I backed ante-post at not much bigger than she is now. Fair Maiden could outrun her odds and is playable each way, and I can’t resist a little nibble at Unforgetable either. She’ll be a monster price on the US tote and is worth a throwaway fifty cents.


Back Fair Maiden each way at 16/1 Ladbrokes, Unibet

Back Unforgetable win and show on the US tote

Juvenile Fillies Turf Review:

Fair Maiden had apparently trained poorly in the run up to the race, though these things are not always prescient come race day. She ran as though she wasn’t right. Unforgetable was forgettable in a race where the winner, Sharing, was a filly I couldn’t have picked in ten attempts.


11.03pm GMT: Breeders Cup Juvenile (1m ½f, Dirt)

Key Trends (35 renewals so far)

  • 33/35 ran 123 or within 4L of the winner last time out
  • Look for solid workouts, especially off a longer (35+ day) layoff
  • 18 of the last 26 winners posted a new Beyer top LTO
  • 17 of last 23 winners improved their Beyer racing at 7f+ for the first time
  • Uncoupled entries (i.e. horses from same stable) won in 2010, 2013 and 2015

How the runners fit


Eight Rings wants to lead and there’s a good chance he will. In fact, in a field notably short of obvious early blazers he could get a perfect setup, though he’ll have stronger horses trying to run him down this time.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


Three potentially very smart colts head this field, with the market offering a double-digit price about anything else. The trio are vying for favouritism at around 5/2 your pick.

Eight Rings, trained by Bob Baffert, has been atop the betting since his all the way win in the American Pharoah (G1) a month ago. There he was rushed up early but didn’t see another horse thereafter, stretching out to win by six lengths. The time (92% FS for the last 2 ½ furlongs) tells us that he was slowing down – though notably less quickly than his rivals – and his best speed figure came over five furlongs on his debut and only other completed start (lost his jockey early in the Del Mar Futurity in between times).

There is little obvious pace contention in this field, meaning Eight Rings may be able to dominate from the front. However, he will have at least two very smart colts serving it up from down the back straight.

The first of that pair is Maxfield, trained for Godolphin by Brendan Walsh. Unbeaten in two career starts, the son of Street Sense, out of a Bernardini mare, is very well bred for this job.

It was a highly impressive performance in the Breeders’ Futurity over this trip at Keeneland last time: sitting ten lengths off the lead for much of the race he made a sweeping move around the home turn and drew away in the home straight to prevail by five lengths and more.

As impressive as that was, the track was favouring closers that day and the time, while good, was not great. Moreover, even though Santa Anita is currently riding a little slower than normal on the dirt (that can change quickly!), it is unlikely to favour a deep closer especially with limited obvious early speed in the field.

Maxfield has been withdrawn with a foot abscess. “We’re not sure what it is yet, we’re hoping it’s just a foot (abscess),” Walsh said. “This morning when we washed the poultice off and gave him a jog up as we do, he wasn’t quite right. You can see that something’s bothering him.”

The top trio is rounded out by Dennis’ Moment, a son of the only dual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Tiznow, out of an Elusive Quality mare. He too is bred in the purple for this gig. And his two completed starts – tossed the jockey on first start – have been ultra-impressive.

On what was effectively his career debut, he surged clear of a large field of maidens at Ellis Park by 19 ¼ lengths. Yes, you read that right. Nearly 20 lengths. While Ellis Park maidens wouldn’t be a hotbed of Grade 1 scorers, the time was almost a track record. And he is a two-year-old who was having his maiden start.

Could he back that run up, though? We found out on his most recent outing, the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. There he was handy but away from the lead early before breezing to the front at the top of the stretch and pulling two lengths clear of the re-opposing Scabbard.

That’s not the full story, however, as both can be marked up. Dennis’ Moment was eased down at least half a furlong out and sauntered past the line. Meanwhile, Scabbard got caught on heels around the home turn and had to take a pull before rounding runners. He didn’t lose much ground but he lost a fair amount of momentum; as such, it was an excellent run to claim a clear second place, putting more than five lengths between himself and the bronze medallist.

Scabbard might be the each way bet if you think one of the top three will miss the podium because it is really – like, REALLY – hard to make a case for anything else.

The Japanese runner, Full Flat, and Anneau d’Or only line up here because they couldn’t get into the Juvenile Turf Sprint: they wanted to go five furlongs on the grass and are instead showing up at beyond a mile on the dirt. That tells you everything about their chances.

Shoplifted and Storm The Court, fifth and third respectively behind Eight Rings in the American Pharoah, have eight lengths and more to make up with the winner that day; and both have better ratings over sprint trips.

That leaves Wrecking Crew as a vaguely interesting outsider at a price. In three career starts to date he won his maiden and then ran second in a Grade 2, both over six furlongs at Del Mar, before again running second in the G1 Del Mar Futurity behind Nucky. That was the race in which Eight Rings unshipped his jockey, his errant course also taking out Storm The Court. He is, then, untried at route trips and could conceivably improve for it, as he could for a slightly less tight oval at Santa Anita. His run style offers a little hope to that end, though it may just be that Del Mar’s closer-favouring strip has flattered him. Ultimately, he might outrun odds of 33/1 but he’d need at least two better fancied runners to flop to offer an each way return.

Trends Contenders:

Dennis’ Moment

Form Contenders:

Dennis’ Moment, Eight Rings

Juvenile Selection:

It will be a huge surprise if one of the top three don’t claim what is, beyond them, a shallow heat. However, Dennis, Max and Ring-o do form a potent triumvirate and choosing between them is a puzzle (as it should be).

Here’s where I’ve got to with it: Eight Rings probably leads and ought to have every chance of winning. Of the other pair, Dennis’ Moment should get first crack at the presumed leader with Maxfield making his move later.

I have a reservation about whether this is an ideal trip for Eight Rings and I suspect (*hope, from a punting perspective) that Maxfield may have too much ground to make up, all of which means I’m on Dennis’ Moment to improve on his record of two extremely impressive and facile victories to date.

Of course, it’s perfectly credible that Eight Rings ‘owns them’ from the front, and/or that Maxfield is ridden more prominently on this occasion (though he was a deep closer on his winning debut start also).

I did my dough big time when going ‘all in’ on Bolt d’Oro in 2017, and that chastening memory prevented me piling in fully this time. I have however had a solid bet on Dennis’ Moment, twice as big as my next biggest at the meeting so far, and I will be cheering him heartily. He could be a very, very, very smart colt. (But I did say that about Bolt d’Oro!)

Of the rest, Scabbard is obvious as an each-way option if any of the top two fluff their lines; but it remains difficult to see both of them bungling the opportunity simultaneously. He could be an exacta play underneath Dennis, as per their Iroquois Stakes 1-2.


Back Dennis’ Moment at 6/4 general or

Back Scabbard each way at 8/1 Ladbrokes (15/2 Hills)

Consider Scabbard in the ‘without favourite’ market

Possible exacta play: Dennis’ Moment to beat Scabbard

Juvenile Review:

This race is becoming a ‘bet noir’ for me. I did my brains on supposed good thing, Bolt d’Oro in 2017, and I again went deep on Dennis’ Moment. I’d managed to secure 9/2 so probably should have traded, but that’s not really my thing. Dennis kissed the dirt as he exited the gate, down on his knees, and that was game over in the first three strides: the epitome of anticlimax.

The actual result defied any logic and the form is worth nothing. Dennis will doubtless go on to win the Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown and next year’s Classic…!

6.55pm GMT: Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (7f, Dirt)

Key Trends (12 renewals so far)

  • Age: 3-1; 4-6; 5-4; 6-1 (3yo’s 1 from 33 to date, incl 11/10 fav in ’17, unplaced; 10 of last 11 winners all 4 or 5 yo; ’18 winner 3yo, 20/1)
  • 11/12 finished in the top 3, or within 3L of the winner, last time (not ’17 winner)
  • 9/12 won at 7f; 4/12 2+ wins at 7f
  • 9/12 won or were 2nd in a G1 (’17 winner 2nd 7f G1 2 yrs ago, ’18 winner 1st G2 LTO, only 7f start)
  • TCA at Keeneland is a key prep (albeit over 6f) – Spiced Perfection, Dawn The Destroyer
  • PID Masters also key race – Hotshot Anna won in 2018 & 2019
  • Surface switch (synth or turf to dirt) : 7/12 winners; ’18 winner 1stx2 on synths prior to final prep on dirt)
  • Fav 3/12, 2nd fav 2/12, 3rd fav 0/12. 7/12 4th or lower in the betting

How the runners fit


Heavenhasmynikki, Danuske’s My Girl, and especially Selcourt like to lead. So too does Covfefe though she can track a leader too. The FM Sprint has come up light in numbers this year but there looks to be the usual early pace duel that often sets things up for a closer.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


A race I look forward to simply because it has produced some big-odds winners that I’ve managed to land on. Last year, Shamrock Rose finished like a train at 25/1. Yes! The year before, Ami’s Mesa got chinned on the line at 33/1. Nooooo! Chinned by a filly who was herself 66/1. Wow.

The other angle is that three-year-old fillies have a TERRIBLE record. Yes, Shamrock Rose was a 3yo. She was the first 3yo since the race’s inception in 2007 to win, with a number of the 32 beaten sent off very short.

So let’s start with the favourite, Covfefe, a three-year-old 😊. She’s won four of her last five, the most recent pair at this seven-furlong trip. The one time she raced against older fillies and mares, though, she was beaten. That came directly after she recorded a career best speed figure, giving the impression she bounced. On her most recent start she matched that career best, thus there may be a good chance she’ll once again recoil.

She has stall one, which is not ideal with the distance starting in a chute at the beginning of the back straight meaning sometimes horses get squeezed up as the race hits the arc of the turn. If she tries to contest the pace life may be difficult in the final furlong.

For all that, her win in the Grade 1 Test, where she had Bellafina well behind, is strong form. They went 44.28 seconds for the half mile there and came home in 81.26 seconds. Thus the first four furlongs were run in an average of 11.07 seconds, the last three in an average of 12.33 seconds. They were walking at the end.

In the Listed race Covfefe won in a big time last out, she had lovely even fractions. That won’t happen here, I’ll wager. As you may have guessed I’m looking for reasons to oppose her and I think I have plenty. Fair play to her if she’s good enough to win.

Come Dancing is a five-year-old mare who has won four of her last five, including in the Grade 1 Ballerina. Her sole defeat was when failing to stay an extended mile. She looks tactically versatile, has run some big numbers and found a way to win when fluffing the start: she looks solid.

Sprint king Peter Miller (Roy H, Stormy Liberal double double in the 2017/18 Sprint and Turf Sprint) saddles Spiced Perfection, winner of the Grade 2 TCA Stakes last time. The TCA is a remarkable trial for this race even though it’s a six-furlong contest: five winners have already exited that race and won this, as well as Ami’s Mesa finishing second (ugh) in 2017. Her figures are not fast, but nor were those of many recent winners; the ability to hang tough off unsustainable early fractions is often the key attribute in the Filly & Mare Sprint.

The TCA was her first run since May and Miller, whose overall record is about 18% wins, has a 25% hit rate on second start off a layoff.

Spiced Perfection just held off the late rally of Dawn The Destroyer in the TCA. Dawn was out the back throughout and came with a withering, if ultimately just too late, run in the straight.

Prior to that, and over seven furlongs, she’d run third in a G3 and then second to Come Dancing in the Test. Those were both small fields where her grinding ability was unable to come into play. Indeed, her form record is plagued by small fields where the pace is too slow for her. I think she’s very interesting if they go a million early in this.

Bellafina is fourth choice in the betting. She was fourth in the G1 Cotillion (maybe didn’t stay), third in the G1 Test (maybe not quick enough), and fifth in the Kentucky Oaks (probably didn’t stay). She only just won a weak G2 (where she was sent off 1/9) earlier in the season at an extended mile and again she was unconvincing. Her numbers are well short of what’s required and she’s a three-year-old who will genuinely surprise me if she can turn them all away. She’s been beaten more than eight lengths in each of her last three starts, though she will be defending an unbeaten-in-four record at Santa Anita and has a trainer who does well with horses dropping back in trip.

Selcourt is a one-dimensional speedball and she will very likely lead, as she has done in five or her last six starts. How many try to live with her is unclear but she tried to win this from the front last year and ended up 12th of 14 having been sent off at 9/2.

She nearly hung on last time in the G3 LA Woman Stakes over 110 yards shorter here, but was just caught on the line by the re-opposing Lady Ninja. That five-year-old mare is 22-race veteran whose only Graded action has been the last twice, improving by two places from a Del Mar Grade 3. She’s probably quick enough for this given the way it figures to pan out, but she’s been around a long time to suddenly start improving now.

Heavenhasmynikki looks set to be in the pace battle from a good draw in 3. Her opening quarter times however are not within half a second of Selcourt’s and she looks over-faced. She’s 0 from 2 at 7f.

Likewise it is difficult to make a case for Danuske’s My Girl, the Jerry Hollendorfer – sorry, Dan Ward – -trained runner. She is as fast as Selcourt early, and stall two is probably ideal to blast out. But she doesn’t look strong enough to repel this field and ran flat in sixth in the TCA last time.

Trends Contenders:

Come Dancing, Spiced Perfection, Dawn The Destroyer

Form Contenders:

Come Dancing, Spiced Perfection, Covfefe

Filly and Mare Sprint Selection:

You might be ahead of me here. I want to field against Covfefe; I think Come Dancing has a decent chance but she’s short enough. That leaves me with Spiced Perfection and Dawn The Destroyer, the 1-2 from that key prep, the TCA.

I’ve backed Dawn at 25/1, and she’s still available at 20/1. If, as looks likely, they go very fast she’ll be totally outpaced in the first quarter mile; but she finishes her races off better than most. She’s a big old price if I’m right about the race setup.

Spiced Perfection may step forward from that first run off a long layoff – her trainer record points that way – in which case she is also playable at 6/1 in a race where I don’t give many more much of a chance.


Back Spiced Perfection at 6/1 general

Back Dawn The Destroyer each way at 20/1 bet365, Boyle

Filly and Mare Sprint Review:

By now it had become clear that nothing was coming from far back off the pace. Spiced Perfection’s connections decided to race her more prominently than usual, presumably due to how the track was riding, but she faded into fourth, passed late on by Dawn The Destroyer who had been waaaaaay back (almost ten lengths) at the half mile mark. She’d have got closer on a faster track.

Winner Covfefe did well from stall one, showing stamina and resolution not often seen in her age group. She benefited from being on the front end but was much the best and a second consecutive winner for the previously vanquished three-year-old filly brigade.


7.33pm GMT: Breeders Cup Turf Sprint (5f, Turf)

Key Trends (11 renewals so far)

  • 8/11 were already distance winners (check for specific 5f distance form)
  • Age 3-1; 4-4; 5-3; 6-2; 8-1 (all largely in line with representation)
  • 9/11 winners were top 3 or within 3L of the winner last time out (not ’17 winner)
  • 9/11 had 99+ Beyer; 11/11 96+ Beyer
  • 10/11 had 4+ starts in year
  • 10/11 had a 28+ day layoff
  • 11/11 placed in Graded Stakes (7/11 WON Graded Stakes)
  • Europeans 0 from 11 so far
  • Favourite is 4/11

How the runners fit


Shekky Shebaz, who drew in from an Also Eligible spot at pre-entry stage, is quick early, as is Pure Sensation and Belvoir Bay. If Girls Know Best snuck in – first reserve currently – this would be even quicker early. The likelihood is that the race complexion will change quickly in the final furlong.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


A full field of twelve for the Turf Sprint which this year is five furlongs around the turn on the main turf track, moved from the quirky Oak Tree course due to safety concerns. It makes things slightly trickier as the Oak Tree sprints suited local specialists very well; now we have no ‘in’ from which to start.

I’m not in love with this race, I have to concede, and it is the one event in which I’ll not be going through every runner. Instead, I’m taking the following approach: look for a closer drawn inside at a price.

That’s because they are likely to go off too hard and those closers drawn outside may lose too much ground out of the turn. Of course, there’s a lot of conjecture in the above but, as with most races, if you don’t have a view on the pace in the race you can’t make an informed decision on how to bet it. Different horses show themselves as favoured in different setups. (Apologies if you know that but, for me, it’s handicapping 101 territory).

The really solid one, though he’s not an exciting price, is Eddie Haskell. His record at five furlongs at Santa Anita is 31112, and his overall 5f record is nine wins from 14, three 2nd’s and two 3rd’s. In other words, he’s been in the frame in every one of 14 5f races.

Imprimis rocked up at Royal Ascot this summer, where he got a tough trip as a thank you but still ran well in sixth. Before and after that he has had mixed fortunes. He shipped to England on the back of two big wins but has been luckless in a brace of runs since returning.

Those two recent misses were at longer trips however and Imprimis is an impressive seven-from-ten at the flat five. Previously he’d recorded a huge speed figure when cantering past wilting leaders who’d set a ridiculous 20.68 opening quarter. If he gets the splits, he is tempting at 10/1.

Local runner Stubbins also comes on very late and has an inside gate. He was nine lengths back before closing to win in a very messy G2 Woodford Stakes last time (Imprimis horror run, 3rd). He’s two from two on the turf at Santa Anita, both on the Oak Tree lane however. This trip might just be on the sharp side for him even allowing for a royal shemozzle up front.

And what of Stormy Liberal, the BC Turf Sprint winner for the past two years? He’s seven now and is starting to look as though his 36 career starts are taking their toll. There’d be almost no better story horse – Story Liberal, perhaps – than Peter Miller’s charge, and if anyone can revitalise him it’s Miller. But Stormy has yet to win in six since last year’s Breeders’ Cup score.

Totally Boss has been winning over slightly further and, while his form is highly consistent (four wins and a second from his last five starts, new speed figure top last time), I’m unsure about his ability to handle the strength and depth of this field. Perfectly possible I’ve underrated him, however. Also perfectly possible I’ve failed to mention the winner…

Trends Contenders:

Imprimis, Shekky Shebaz, Belvoir Bay

Form Contenders:

Eddie Haskell, Imprimis

Turf Sprint Selection:

Loads of blazing speed means this ought to be quick – look for an opening quarter mile of around 21.3 seconds. If that comes to pass, it might set up for a mid-pack closer like Imprimis. I think he’s probably the best horse in the race but he needs a change of luck after two horrible transits. Still, 10/1 offers plenty of scope.

Eddie Haskell is an obvious one. He has local form, is a five furlong win machine, and ticks a lot of boxes.


Back Eddie Haskell at 5/1 general

Back Imprimis each way at 10/1 general

Turf Sprint Review:

Eddie and Imprimis never got in it, the latter particularly disappointing as Frankie took back a little in a race where the speedsters never got caught. Belvoir Bay was rapid from the outside stall and led all the way, with the first three always less than two lengths from the front.

8.10pm GMT: Breeders Cup Dirt Mile (1m, Dirt)

Key Trends (12 renewals to date)

  • 11/12 ran in a Grade 1 or 2 last time out
  • All 12 notched at least one 100+ Beyer in their last two races
  • 8/12 had 5+ runs in the year, 7/12 had 6+ runs in year (’18 winner: 4 runs)
  • Number of season runs since 2012: 5-8-4-3-3-9-4 (tendency to less)
  • Seasonal run breakdown: 3-2/4-2/5-1/6-2/8-2/9-2/10-1
  • Layoff: 10/12 27-42 days (’18 winner City of Light 70 days)
  • 7/12 ‘turned back’ in distance (2/4 exceptions were Goldencents) (’18 CoL 9f, 10f, 7f last 3 runs, unraced at 1m!)
  • Top 3 favourites: Fav 2/12; 2nd fav 3/12; 3rd fav 1/12 [6/12 outside top 3 in betting]
  • Age 3-3/4-7/5-1/6-1 = 10/12 3 or 4yo (9/12 4yo+)
  • 11/12 had won a Graded Stakes

How the runners fit


Todd Pletcher’s Coal Front is a known pace angle. Mr. Money has a better draw than him but isn’t a ‘need the lead’ type. Omaha Beach has some early pace and the Korean mystery horse, Blue Chipper, has been on the lead in his two most recent starts.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


The ‘Dirty Mile’, one of those races I consistently get totally wrong. It’s the Ryanair Chase of the Breeders’ Cup stealing as it does contenders from the Sprint and the Classic. Still, I’ll catch it right one day… [Actually, I did back/tip Liam’s Map a few years back]

Strongly favoured is Omaha Beach, trained by Richard Mandella, and winner of the most recent half of his eight career starts. He’s won at six, seven and nine furlongs but not yet a mile; clearly with that trip versatility that are no real concerns about the range.

He does tend to get racing quite early so, with the first turn coming up very quickly, there is a chance of scrimmaging and the race could be lost right there. Whilst this son of War Front has a will to win, as evidenced by nose and head verdicts in his last three starts, he doesn’t knock me over considering he’s around even money.

Likely to serve it up to the Beach early is Coal Front, berthed two wider. His best form is over seven furlongs, a fact that when combined with expected pace contention suggests he’ll falter late. The Todd Pletcher inmate won the Grade 2 Godolphin Mile in the spring and picked up a minor stakes race last time, either side of a pair of defeats – one heavy, in the Met Mile. He too is a short enough price for me.

Outside of Coal Front is Korean champion, Blue Chipper. He’s been commanding at Busan, winning a mile Listed race by ten lengths two back. He contested the lead there, as he did last time over six furlongs, the shorter trip in a higher grade (G1) resulting in a much narrower verdict. Flavien Prat takes over steering duties on a horse whose level is impossible to peg: he broke the track record when winning the mile race but what is the level of opposition or of historical performance at Busan? Answers on a postcard…

He was 40/1 but he’s now 16/1, though it will be interesting to see which way the tote board goes: he’s 20/1 on the morning line here.

Plenty of speed out wide could cause problems for those drawn closer to the rail. Second favourite, Improbable, will exit trap two. The Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old is unbeaten in two at a flat mile, both at minor stakes level, and he possesses a more patient run style than plenty of his Dirt Mile rivals. He didn’t have the greatest trip in the Penn Derby, and likely doesn’t stay the extra furlong. This strong trends profile fit is also a fairly strong form contender.

Mr. Money is by Goldencents, himself the only dual Dirt Mile winner, both at Santa Anita, out of a Tiznow mare: he’s bred for this job all right. He ran a fine second in that blanket finish to the Penn Derby, prior to which he’d notched a four-timer of Grade 3 scores the first of which was at the flat mile. He stays further, is ultra-consistent but will need to avoid the anticipated pace sizzle in three of the four stalls to his immediate right.

In his mile score he finished very well off a very fast opening quarter, and went away to record a five length win. The time wasn’t super-fast because a pace collapse, a scenario that could easily play out here, too.

Just inside Mr. Money, in three, is Spun To Run. Two from two at the trip, both in lower grade affairs, the most of recent of the pair was last time out where he posted a huge personal best. A 110 Beyer is five spots quicker than anything else in the field, but the usual doubts about bouncing after an outlying career best apply. If he can back it up, he must go close.

The rail draw belongs to Giant Expectations, a six-year-old who was sixth and fifth in the last two renewals of the Dirt Mile. He hasn’t won since Boxing Day 2017 and it is difficult to see that sequence snapping on Saturday.

At the other side of the field, Snapper Sinclair exits box twelve. He won an ungraded mile race last time… on turf! That’s a quirky prep for the Dirt Mile and in any case he looks over-faced in this esteemed company.

Bracketed by Snapper and Blue Chipper is Diamond Oops, another who prepped for this on the lawn. He at least was runner up in a Grade 1 on his first attempt at a mile. Before that he split Imperial Hint and Mitole in a Grade 1 six furlong dirt contest, so he clearly has both pace and talent. Whether he quite has the legs to see out a fierce mile examination I’m not sure; but I’m not sure he hasn’t either, making 20/1 mildly tempting.

And then there’s Jane Chapple-Hyam’s British challenger, Ambassadorial. A five-year-old that has been beaten mainly in handicap company this season, he was third in a Korean G1 two back. That at least betrays some ability to handle a dirt surface, though it was muddy that day. It would undoubtedly be one of the stories of the meeting if Jane could nick this, but it’s a chunky leap of faith to see that happening.

Trends Contenders:


Form Contenders:

Omaha Beach, Improbable, Spun To Run, Mr. Money

Dirt Mile Selection:

I don’t see Omaha Beach as far clear as the market does. Which quite probably makes me wrong. I think Spun To Run is likely to bounce or, if not, to fail to run to the excellent level of his previous race. And I think Improbable, though unquestionably talented, doesn’t find winning easy.

That brings me to Mr. Money and his sexy effort in the Pat Day Mile. I feel like this race will be a similar pace meltdown to that one and, if it is, this guy has shown he will gratefully pick up the pieces. Plus he’s won five of his last six and was second in a Grade 1 over further on the other occasion. That makes him a very attractive each way bet.

The Korean runner will be really interesting to watch, and he is training well on the track here. 16/1 might give you a bit of fun if he can win the early speed tussle. But Diamond Oops is a more obvious each way prayer mat play. He has top class form at shorter, and very good form from his first mile race albeit on the grass.


Back Mr. Money each way at 11/2 bet365

Consider backing Diamond Oops each way at 20/1 general

Dirt Mile Review:

A poor race for me as I’d got stuck into Mr. Money. Both he and Diamond Oops – who is normally ridden towards the front but held up here – were out back. The Korean horse, Blue Chipper, ran a  mighty race in third, while Omaha Beach was given a stinker by Mike Smith as favourite. But Spun To Run, who won and was backing up a last day 110 Beyer figure – clear best in the field – just three weeks later, again ran to that level and led from wire to wire.

8.54pm GMT: Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf (1m1f, Turf)

Key Trends (20 renewals to date)

  • US 12 Europe 8
  • 8/8 US winners 1st/2nd LTO; 3/4 ex-Euro imports 1st LTO; 1/8 Euro 1st LTO!
  • Layoff: US/import 10/12 35 days or less ’18 winner absent 84 days); Euro, anything goes!
  • Age: 3: 5 (all Euro, including 2016 & 2017 winners); 4: 9; 5: 4; 6+: 1
  • US have won 6 of last 9 and 8 of last 12
  • 18/20 – 4-7 runs this season (other 2 had 3 starts)
  • 9 of 12 US winners had had a race at Keeneland that season

How the runners fit


Thais is a stablemate of Sistercharlie and her job will be as ‘hare’. Mirth also tends to lead but may have to settle for second. As such, they’re unlikely to go too fast early and there is the prospect of some hard luck stories from the tight home turn.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


This was to be one of the match ups of the weekend until Magical’s late withdrawal. Now it looms as a procession for Chad Brown’s Sistercharlie, who may be sent off a shade of odds on by US punters. But is it as open and shut as that?

Formerly trained in France, Sistercharlie is unbeaten in her last six starts in America, all of them Grade 1’s and she is the reigning FM Turf champion. She has run to a very consistent level of form, with the exception of her most recent win, which was slightly underwhelming. It is to her credit that she still got the job done, catching her pacemaker and resisting the tepid challenge of Mrs Sippy, and she is simply head and shoulders above the rest of the home team.

But even without Magical she will face resistance from a number of genuine European Group 1 performers.

Joseph O’Brien has brought Iridessa across. She won her only ten-furlong start, in the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in June, and she’s backed that up with a second G1 score in the Matron during Irish Champions Weekend. She was a little tapped for toe over a mile in the Sun Chariot last time and this looks her trip.

The Sun Chariot winner was Billesdon Brook, victorious also in the previous year’s 1000 Guineas, both on the same straight Newmarket Rowley mile. She’s only gone ten furlongs once before, when fourth in last year’s Nassau Stakes and the jury is out on whether she has enough stamina for the task.

Fleeting has been incredibly unlucky this season, failing to get a run in both the Prix de l’Opera and the Champion Filly & Mare Stakes. But those runs were on soft ground; on firm she was only fifth in the Vermeille and fourth in the Beverly D (behind Sistercharlie). Adding the fact she raced in mid-September and twice in October, she may be vulnerable at this stage of the season.

As well as Fleeting, Aidan also saddles Just Wonderful, a three-year-old who has been beaten in her last eight starts. Three transatlantic trips have netted a second in the Belmont Oaks in between two thumpings, in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at last year’s Breeders’ Cup and in the First Lady at Keeneland last time.

The French have just two runners at the entire meeting this year – if you exclude Trais Fluors, recently moved to Ken Condon in Ireland – and they both line up in this. Villa Marina was a brave if slightly fortuitous winner of the Opera, holding off Fleeting’s luckless charge by a fine margin. She has a really good ten-furlong record – three wins and two places from five starts – and she handles all ground.

As a French filly, she also has tactical speed which may be required if Sistercharlie’s pacemaker Thais gets loose on the lead, as she has done in her last two. Villa Marina’s only defeat in her last four starts was when patently failing to stay in the twelve-furlong Group 1 Prix Vermeille. She does have a tough draw in 9 to overcome, as they start in a chute on a bend, but is otherwise a definite player for me.

The other French filly is Castle Lady, winner of the French 1000 Guineas earlier this year. She was given a lot – like, a heck of a lot – to do in the Coronation Stakes, never really contending there, and she again had plenty to do turning in on her US debut at Keeneland last time out.

When the split came there, however, she couldn’t reel in Chad’s Cambier Parc, and that form looks shy of this assignment. Also, that run was her first at beyond a mile with this race another furlong again; it is far from certain she will stay.

The former David Simcock-trained Mrs Sippy got close to Sistercharlie in the Flower Bowl last time but she looks flattered by that effort, her two US performances being some way behind all bar that last day near-shock on the favourite’s 2019 CV.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has been blackballed from this year’s Breeders’ Cup, so his two starters race with Dan Ward, his assistant, listed as the trainer. (I mean, really, what’s the point?). They saddle Vasilika here, a seasoned veteran of 35 races. She’s won 18 of those, some feat, including two Group 1’s since switching to Hollendorfer at the start of last year. [He claimed her for $40,000 and has since won around $1,500,000 with her!]

And get this: her Santa Anita record reads 121111111111. Eleven wins from twelve starts! She’s only raced once at this mile and a quarter range, winning the G1 Rodeo Drive at here.

Frankie will have to be at his brilliant best if Fanny Logan is to overcome her parking lot draw in 12 of 12. He did win the last renewal held here, aboard Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen’s Trust, from stall 11 so if anyone can, Frankie can.

Her form profile is interesting: she’s five from five at this trip, has won her last four and handles fast ground. But she’s not won above Group 3 level and there are legitimate, and better drawn, Group 1 performers aplenty in opposition.

Still, seeing the old Sheikh Mohammed colours – now representing the ownership of his estranged wife Sheikha Al Jallila – at the Breeders’ Cup again will be lovely for sentimentalists like myself.

And that leaves Mirth, winner of this year’s Rodeo Drive. She’s had nine starts in 2019, and had been beaten in all bar one of the previous eight, most of them claiming races. She has a kind draw and a track and trip G1 score, but she ought not to be remotely good enough.

Trends Contenders:

Sistercharlie, Fanny Logan, Billesdon Brook, Castle Lady

Form Contenders:

Sistercharlie, Iridessa, Villa Marina

Filly and Mare Turf Selection:

Chad Brown has won four of the last six FM Turf’s and two of the last three at Santa Anita. In the defeat at this track, Queen’s Trust just pipped Brown’s Lady Eli in a classic finish. His Sistercharlie is a very obvious winner: she has towered over her peer group this year, has drawn ostensibly well (though her waited with style may confound her post position), and she is the defending champion.

Against her, Iridessa should be able to sit handy from stall one and has bits of form to go close; Villa Marina has been slightly underestimated, though stall nine is sub-optimal; and Vasilika is a local win machine.

Ultimately, I think the jolly will probably win but I don’t like the price in a race where hard luck can make an ‘all in’ play very expensive. I’d rather back a couple ‘without Sistercharlie’.


Back Villa Marina each way 10/1 general and/or ‘without favourite’

Back Iridessa each way 7/1 365, Victor, Fred, Boyle and/or ‘without favourite’

Consider exactas with Sistercharlie to beat Iridessa, Villa Marina and/or Vasilika

Filly and Mare Turf Review:

Iridessa got a perfect stalking trip after jockey Wayne Lordan bounced her out from stall one and negotiated the tricky junction on to the main track. Thereafter, she got the jump on favoured Sistercharlie and gamely held off the super-improved Vasilika in a thrilling finish. Thrilling, that is, if you backed Iridessa. She paid 13/1 on the US tote, but only 8/1 back home.

Villa Marina did plenty of late running to finish a six-length seventh, but being 16 1/2 length back after 60% of the race is just plain bonkers.

The exacta suggestions were close but no cigar, with Iridessa beating Vasilika and Sistercharlie. The exacta paid 64.5/1 and the trifecta 147.3/1. Woulda coulda shoulda.


9.36pm GMT: Breeders Cup Sprint (6f, Dirt)

Key Trends (35 renewals to date)

  • Since 2007, the BC Sprint winners came into the race with a combined 71/137 lifetime win record (52%)
  • Last 25 winners had at least 50% 1-2 strike rate at 6f
  • 33/35 won a G1-3 that season
  • 1+ 6f wins AND ran sharp 7f last 12 months a solid recent angle
  • 20 of the last 26 had 2+ 6f wins that season
  • 12 of the last 21 winners were 50%+ lifetime winners (’18 Roy H ‘only’ 38%)
  • 12 of last 15 winners had 5 or fewer seasonal starts
  • 18 of last 25 winners showed a bullet workout (not ’17/’18 winner, Roy H, in either season)

How the runners fit


There must be a prospect of at least two of Mitole, Shancelot, Matera Sky and Catalina Cruiser locking horns from the gate, though the last named has been running over further and may not have the toe to mix it with the other two. Imperial Hint led last time, too, making the balance of probabilities that it will be fast from the get go.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


Always a terrific spectacle, and one where the ideal combination is that of speed and stamina: specifically, an excellent win record at six furlongs and a win at further. If that trend is to continue this year it will be courtesy of one of Mitole, Shancelot, Catalina Cruiser and Hog Creek Hustle.

Mitole is favoured, and for good reason. He’s won three of his last four, all Grade 1’s, and he’s been convincing each time. His record at six furlongs is six wins from ten starts. But… the one time he raced in a 6f G1 he was beaten more than seven lengths, and that was against a couple of horses who re-oppose here.

In his defence, the winner that day, Imperial Hint, set a new track record and Mitole’s early duel cooked his goose. However, with another searching gallop from the stalls expected, he might be one to field against.

Imperial Hint is an obvious alternative. Now six and a veteran of 23 lifetime starts, he has won 14 of them, ten (from 16) at this distance. He was third in last year’s BC Sprint (where they probably didn’t go fast enough early for him) and 2nd in the 2017 renewal (where they did).

He’s been kept to six furlongs this term but won over 6 ½f last season and 7f the season before; there are few doubts about his ability to see things out.

Shancelot has the biggest ‘number’ in the field, a whopping 121 achieved on only his third run. This three-year-old son of BC Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby won his first three before settling for place money in his most recent two of five all told.

Those last two were both in Grade 1 company, and both defeats were heart-on-sleeve carried-out-on-shield valiant efforts: he led all the way to the last strides in both before succumbing by a head each time.

It is fair to expect he’d have bounced (i.e. underperformed after a massive effort) in the H Allan Jerkens but, that monster 121 aside, he’s not run fast enough to take this field out. Moreover, he’s going to face pace contention from Mitole and perhaps others. He’s naturally not without a chance but I’m looking elsewhere.

This is an interesting choice of spot for Catalina Cruiser. John Sadler’s lightly-raced five-year-old has not competed over six furlongs since his first two starts, both of them wins at Santa Anita but neither of them stakes. Clearly, then, he stays further but he failed big time when an odds-on favourite in the Dirt Mile last year, his only stab at Grade 1 horses. He’s not an impossible winner by any means but has plenty more on this time.

Firenze Fire has failed to, erm, fire in his two Breeders’ Cup starts both at the mile distance. Likewise, he’s been beaten generally this campaign, though he got to within a nose of a front-running Imperial Hint in the G1 Vosburgh last time. That run may flatter a touch, however, as it was Imperial Hint’s first off a two month layoff, the winner’s trainer clearly leaving something to work on for this big day.

The second half of Steve Asmussen’s uncoupled entry, alongside Mitole, is Engage. Generally just shy of Grade 1 level as a three-year-old last year when trained by Chad Brown, he’s been tenderly handled this term: not hitting the track until mid-July, he was beaten in an optional allowance claimer, from where Asmussen fished him.

Since the trainer switch, Engage is two-from-two, first in ungraded stakes company and then in the G2 Ogden Phoenix, a race taken in by Work All Week twice en route to BC Sprint success in 2013 and 2014. He’s likely to sit just off the early sizzle and has a good draw in five.

Closing Engage down in the Ogden Phoenix and within a length or so were both Whitmore and Hog Creek Hustle. Whitmore is six now and will be running in the race for the third time. A no show in 2017 at Del Mar, a track which wouldn’t have suited, was followed by second place twelve months ago at Churchill. That oval probably plays to his late running style slightly better than Santa Anita but he is certainly a horse to benefit from overly fast early fractions, which may come to pass here.

Likewise, Hog Creek Hustle is a deep closer. He ran into a pocket when a close fifth in that Grade 2 but had run first and then second in a brace of seven-furlong Grade 1’s immediately prior. If they go crazy on the front he is interesting at a price.

It’s impossible to know what to make of the Japanese runner, Matera Sky. He’s been beaten in his last seven starts back home and in Dubai, usually when leading, though he was a very good second in the Grade 1 Golden Shaheen at the Carnival.

That leaves the three-year-old rising star, Landeskog. Well beaten behind Hog Creek Hustle in the G1 Woody Stephens over seven, he was also run down in a Grade 2 last time. The time was pretty quick there but he looks susceptible both to the bounce off that clear career top and to stronger early speed as well as capable finishers. Landeskog has been withdrawn.

Trends Contenders:

Imperial Hint, Shancelot, Catalina Cruiser

Form Contenders:

Imperial Hint, Shancelot, Mitole

Sprint Selection:

I’m against Shancelot and Mitole here. Not because they can’t win – they are perfectly capable high-class sprinters – but rather because I am betting that the early speed battle won’t sustain those involved to the finish.

The one I like most is Imperial Hint. He’s a really talented horse who comes here on the back of two Grade 1 scores. Indeed it’s the exact same preparation that saw him run third last year. He should be able to stalk the pace from his wide draw and be placed to have first crack at the leaders if/when they start to tire.

At bigger prices, I also quite like Whitmore and Hog Creek Hustle. If the race is super fast early, and that’s my contention, then the closers should get a sniff. They’re both huge prices and worth a tiny tickle.


Back Imperial Hint at 4/1 with Hills / 888sport

Back Whitmore 20/1 general and/or Hog Creek Hustle at 33/1 general each way


Sprint Review:

Imperial Hint was withdrawn on veterinary advice, leaving the two join favourites Mitole and Shancelot to fight it out. The latter led with the former running him down in the last furlong. Whitmore ran on from his usual far back – eight lengths behind after a quarter mile – to finish third at 20-odd/1.


10.20pm GMT: Breeders Cup Mile (1m, Turf)

Key Trends (35 renewals to date)

  • The last 17 winners had 4-6 seasonal starts
  • 15/17 winners since 2002 had 2+ mile turf wins (exceptions, Karakontie 2014, Expert Eye 2018)
  • Repeat winners common (Miesque, Lure, Da Hoss, Goldikova, Wise Dan)
  • 15 of the last 23 were US winners; 7 French-trained (UK/Ire 1 for 70 since 1995, Expert Eye in 2018)
  • Only Goldikova (x3), Karakontie & Expert Eye have stemmed US dominance since 2004
  • 8/10 3yo winners were Euros (4 fillies); 11/12 5yo+ winners were US (exception Goldikova #3)
  • Euro G1 win important, US any Graded win (Expert Eye no G1 win)
  • 23 of the last 25 ran 123 last time, or finished within 4L of the winner
  • Career record at 1m of BC Mile winners since 2002: Runs 133, 1st 75 (56%), 2nd 30 (23%)
  • Thus, the last 15 BC Mile winners had a collective 79% 1-2 record at the distance
  • No front runner has been 1st or 2nd since 2000


How the runners fit


Unusually for this race, there’s not a whole load of speed. Hey Gaman may be the one to take them along, which would probably be smart from his wide berth in any case; Circus Maximus should be handy; and Bolo has front run regularly in the past. There are lots of horses who are generally waited with and this looks messy.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


A full field and probably a steady gallop on a very tight circuit could make the outcome unpredictable. Overall US leads Europe 21-14 in the Mile, but at Santa Anita the score is 5-4 to Europe, thanks in large part to two of Goldikova’s three wins.

But in the last five Californian BC Mile’s (including Del Mar in 2017), US leads 4-1, and at all venues in the last eight years the home team leads 6-2.

Moreover, prior to Expert Eye’s victory last year, the previous UK or Irish winner was Barathea. In 1994! That run extended to 62 starters before the peerless Sir Michael Stoute/ Frankie Dettori axis struck.

The French have a good record but are unrepresented this year, unless you count Ken Condon’s recently acquired Trais Fluors.

Since 2004, only Karakontie, Expert Eye and Goldikova (x3) have stemmed US dominance.

Those are sobering stats if you’re tempted to pile into a British or Irish runner. Of course, one can win, but the nature of the tight inner oval and a race around two turns catches most Euros out.

In spite of history, Circus Maximus is favourite. That’s naturally because his form is good. He won the G1 St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, and he won the G1 Prix du Moulin at Longchamp. On both occasions he was ridden just behind the leader and got first run off a decent pace, which he sustained to victory.

But when he was beaten in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, also over a mile, the pace was steady and he was readily outkicked by Too Darn Hot, most likely a seven furlong horse.

The ground was on the soft side of good for both of his G1 scores, but it was quicker – like Santa Anita – when he was outrun at Goodwood. I backed him at 7/1 after the Moulin but I think he’ll again be outsped despite getting first run in the short straight.

A brace of US fillies are next in the betting, Got Stormy and Uni. Got Stormy is a four-year-old with three wins from six starts this season, all at a mile on the turf. She won a Grade 1 at Saratoga against the boys in course record time, beating Uni, in August, and has since finished second to longshot El Tormenta in the G1 Woodbine Mile.

In the Woodbine race there were five horses within a length or so at the finish: it was a muddling affair and the winner ran her down. She looks sure to be on the premises and her price fully reflects that.

Chad Brown has got a real tune out of the five-year-old mare Uni in the last two years. During that time she’s won six of seven, the defeat coming in the aforementioned Saratoga G1 behind Got Stormy. There, she finished well but just failed to get up. She is not as quick as Got Stormy but if the pace is steady it will not be overall speed that wins the race. She has shown an impressive turn of pace to get races won, notably in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland on her most recent start.

She was beaten on her sole recent start against boys but I’m not certain that is material rather than coincidence.

The Richard Fahey-trained Space Traveller is predominantly a seven-furlong horse, similar in that regard to last year’s winner, Expert Eye. He did win on his sole attempt at a mile, however, last time at Leopardstown in G2 company. I’d be a little worried about his hold up style from an inside draw as it might be difficult to fashion a clear passage.

It’s always worth considering a domestic runner at a price in the Mile, and Bowies Hero was a Grade 1 winner last time. There he ground down the leaders in the straight in a very messy finish – the margins were ¾, nose, nose, nose, nose, ½, ½, dead heat, neck: two lengths covering the first ten home!

He does have three wins on the Santa Anita turf track and seven from 15 starts at a mile, so he’s far from an impossible winner even from stall 14.

Something of a ‘wise guy’ horse is the former John Gosden inmate, Without Parole. Winner of the same Royal Ascot race last year as Circus Maximus, he has been missing in action ever since. Now moved to Chad Brown, his main target is said to be the Pegasus Turf at Gulfstream in January; but it’s not hard to imagine that a change of scenery, the application of Lasix and some Chad magic can revitalise a horse headed for the top last summer. He’d be a win only play as he’s just as likely – more likely, in truth – to finish last as he is to win.

Lord Glitters and Suedois are very much in the veteran stage now. The latter was third in that bunched finish Shadwell Turf Mile behind Bowies Hero last time, and was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar in 2017. He’s eight now, which would make him the oldest BC Mile winner, and arguably past his prime for all that it was an encouraging run at Keeneland.

Lord Glitters is ‘only’ six, an age at which four winners, including in 2011 and 2013, struck. He’s capable of top class form, as when winning the straight track Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Prior to that he was third to Almond Eye in the valuable Dubai Turf at the Carnival. He was disappointing, however, on his previous visit to North America, running down the field in the 2018 Woodbine Mile.

Hey Gaman ought not to be good enough, and yet he will quite possibly lead or be second and he is the seven-furlong horse that is arguably needed for this test. He’s been beaten in all five of his G1 races and I have to let him beat me.

My eye keeps getting drawn to Trais Fluors. Formerly with Andre Fabre, the five-year-old has switched to Ken Condon ahead of his Santa Anita engagement. He’s been first or second in eight of his eleven mile races but often seems to be set too much to do.

Arguably his best of recent form was a 2 ½ length third to Olmedo and Mountain Angel. I quite strongly fancied Olmedo for this race, and backed him, but he didn’t travel over. Sigh. Anyway, Trais Fluors has a touch of Karakontie about his profile and he’s a very big price. As such, he will suck a few dollars from my wallet on the US tote.

Meanwhile, back with the local mob, El Tormenta was a 44/1 bomber when providing Canadian trainer Gail Cox with her biggest triumph in Woodbine Mile last time, turning over Got Stormy no less.

The question is whether that was a fluke or not; and the answer is probably not. He has very solid form at 7f and a mile – 12141, the 4 coming in a luckless run where he might actually have won – and might get a similar set up to the Woodbine Mile again. Both World Approval and Tepin scored in the same race before winning the BC mile. He’s a dark one.

Lucullan was a disqualified third in El Tomenta’s race, and since won a Grade 2 at Belmont. He’s rested less than most but it’s not enough to say he can’t win. I didn’t like the way he lugged out under pressure at Woodbine, for which he got the DQ, and most of his best form is over slightly further.

The former Johnny Murtagh-trained True Valour arrives here on a hat-trick. Now with Simon Callaghan, he’s won a Grade 3 and a Grade 2 prior to setting his sights on this Grade 1. The G2 score, over course and distance, was another absolute blanket job with the first seven separated by a head, nose, head, neck, ½, nose, ½ – 1 ½ lengths or so. I wouldn’t back him to land the G321 trio.

Bolo has five of his six career wins on the Santa Anita lawns, including when wiring his field in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile three back. He was 32/1 that day and is currently 66/1 in Britain. That’s because since the win he’s run poorly twice including over this track when seven lengths behind True Valour.

Trends Contenders:

Circus Maximus, Got Stormy, Uni, El Tormenta

Form Contenders:

It’s complicated!

Mile Selection:

This is a real head scratcher. Should almost certainly be filed under ‘too difficult’. The first thing is that we have to take a view on how the race will be run: depending on whether we think slow or fast, we might choose different bets.

For instance, if I thought it would be quick I’d like Circus Maximus, the class of the field. If I thought it would be truly run with a solid but not stupid end-to-end gallop, I’d plump for Got Stormy. But I don’t. I feel like there’s a good chance it will be steadily run and my wagering approach is framed accordingly. If they go quicker, I’ll have to wear that.

The one with the best kick is probably Uni. She is exhilarating to watch as the turbo kicks in from far back with 2 ½ furlongs to go in her races. But that’s a dangerous tactic and there are plenty in here that could get the nod in a blanket verdict: as you’ll know from the summary section, such finishes are not uncommon.

Two at massive prices to consider chancing for the latter scenario are El Tormenta and Trais Fluors; and if Bolo wheeled back to his ‘A’ game he’d be more like 16/1 than 66/1.


Try Uni to win at 5/1 Hills

Consider El Tormenta each way at 20/1 Black Type (16/1 general)

Consider tiny Hail Mary’s on Trais Fluors (US tote) and/or Bolo 66/1 Victor/Coral

Mile Review:

Bolo was a non-runner, Trais Fluors was a no show (he was that sort of a punt). El Tormenta, a horse that hadn’t led in its last seven starts, decided to engage in a suicide pace pact with Hey Gaman. That was curtains for him. Happily, Uni again showed her dazzling acceleration in the home turn and hurtled down the straight to win.

11.00pm GMT: Breeders Cup Distaff (1m1f, Dirt)

Key Trends (35 renewals to date)

  • 28/35 won by 3 or 4yo’s
  • 17/35 won by 4yo’s (including 10 of the last 17)
  • 34/35 finished top 3 or within 4L of winner last time out
  • 21 of the last 28 winners ran 6-8 times in the year
  • 25/31 1m1f Distaff winners had won at the distance already
  • Layoff: 28/35 35 days or less (all since 1998, BUT NOT 4 of last 5 winners)
  • 24/31 1m1f Distaff winners had won a Grade 1 in same year
  • The favourite is 15/35 (43% SR)
  • 33/35 had recorded a Beyer of 100+

How the runners fit


Mo See Cal, Secret Spice and Serengeti Empress are expected to break smartly and set a busy early tempo. Strong favourite Midnight Bisou has a perfect draw to stalk the pace.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


This race revolves around Midnight Bisou, winner of all seven starts this year and heavy favourite. Third in the Distaff last year, she is unbeaten since. The highlight of that super septet was a nose verdict over Elate in the G1 Personal Ensign, the latter a single-figure price to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It was nine lengths back to the third horse that day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly after such a huge run, she bounced a little on her most recent start but still had enough to win the Grade 2 Beldame by three lengths-plus from re-opposing Wow Cat. Tactically versatile and with verdicts over nearly all of her Distaff rivals, she has a plum draw which makes it very hard to see how she can be beaten.

One filly yet to square up to Midnight Bisou is Dunbar Road. Trained by Chad Brown she was only third in the G1 Spinster over this nine-furlong range last time, Blue Prize and Elate finishing in front of her there. A collateral line through Elate gives her a little to find, though she is a steadily progressive three-year-old.

Blue Prize has been consistent all season, and was scoring back-to-back wins in the Spinster last time out. She’s been in the first two in ten of her twelve races over the Distaff distance. The outside stall is unhelpful, however, even for a mid- to late runner, as she bids to improve on fourth in the race last year, just a head behind Midnight Bisou.

The aforementioned Wow Cat, like all runners bar Blue Prize referenced so far in this race, ships across from New York. Also trained by Chad, Wow Cat was second in last year’s Distaff after a win in the Beldame. This time she was only second, and a respectful second at that, behind Midnight Bisou.

That recurring theme, “behind Midnight Bisou”, does not apply to the Churchill Downs filly, Street Band. Unfashionably bred, she is a story horse who gave British jockey Sophie Doyle (sister of James) her maiden Grade 1 win when coming from near last to first in the Cotillion Stakes last time. The Parx track was playing favourably for closers that day which, from a technical perspective, takes a little of the gloss off the performance.

Prior to that she’d been second to Dunbar Road, but that was over ten furlongs on a sloppy track, very different conditions to this fast track nine. Street Band is likely to be played quite late.

Serengeti Empress completes the list of shippers, she too heading from east to left coast for the Distaff party. A winner of her only start at the trip, she’s another faintly progressive three-year-old chancing her arm. A regressive effort last time after a career best on the clock two back when second in the seven-furlong G1 Test Stakes, her single nine-furlong score was in none other than the Kentucky Oaks. But even her best run gives her a few lengths to find with Midnight Bisou.

It may be worth noting that seven of the nine Santa Anita Distaff’s have been won by Southern Californian fillies and mares. With that in mind, let us consider the home team.

Ostensibly the most likely of this quintet is five-year-old Paradise Woods, winner of the Grade 2 Zenyatta on this track last time over a half furlong shorter. Earlier in the season she’d won a course and distance Grade 2 by more than ten lengths, and she has back class from her three-year-old season (when she was third in the Distaff) that matches up with Midnight Bisou. She’s run her best races on or close to the lead and has trap one from which to set that up. I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of rider Abel Cedillo, mind, his style of encouragement being fairly ‘agricultural’.

Secret Spice was second in the Zenyatta, as she was in a brace of Grade 1’s prior to that. All three of those bridesmaid efforts were at the slightly shorter distance of a mile and a sixteenth. It’s difficult to say whether she’s not the most resolute or she doesn’t quite stay; given that her best two speed figures have come at a mile the latter is probably more credible and certainly more charitable. In a truly run race, she might struggle to finish her race off.

On form there wouldn’t be more than a beach towel between Paradise Woods, Secret Spice and Ollie’s Candy, the last named beating Spice in the Clement Hirsch two back before running third to the other two in the Zenyatta. They may again finish close together but predicting in which order is close to impossible.

The field is completed by La Force, who has been well below her 2018 form this term, and Mo See Cal,  who has never raced beyond a mile and is stepping into Graded Stakes company for the first time in a 16 race career.

Trends Contenders:

Midnight Bisou

Form Contenders:

Midnight Bisou

Distaff Selection:

You can probably see where this is going… Midnight Bisou has been dominant this year. From a spectator perspective she has looked like she might get beaten a furlong from home on a number of occasions; but from a punting perspective she’s always converted that compelling drama into victory.

This will be another trip to the well and another hard race is virtually certain. Freshened 35 days since her last win, she will be extremely tough to beat and, as much as these things can be, she actually looks a bit of value at 5/4.

If you’d rather back one each way, Paradise Woods would make the frame on one of her going days. And Blue Prize has an excellent record at the distance, finishing 1st or 2nd on ten out of twelve occasions. Her late running style could enable her to pick up the pieces or round out the exacta.


Back Midnight Bisou at 5/4 general

Consider Midnight Bisou to beat Blue Prize and/or Paradise Woods in exactas

Consider Blue Prize and/or Paradise Woods in the ‘without favourite’ market

Distaff Review:

Midnight Bisou was the best filly in this race but seemed to resent the deep surface on the track. Blue Prize picked up the mantle, emerging from 8 1/2 lengths behind at the first call (after a quarter mile) to win. No horse made up more ground to win over the weekend, and she likely benefited from the combination of a liking for the deep surface as well as abundant stamina. Argentinian breeding, which is often to get staying types, is a possible factor in the winner, who had a wholly Argentine pedigree.

11.40pm GMT: Breeders Cup Turf (1m4f, Turf)

Key Trends (35 renewals to date)

  • 24/25 winners to have raced at the distance had been at least 2nd (Found in 2015 the exception)
  • Layoff: US 35 days or less; Euro any
  • 35/35 aged 3-5yo; 6yo+ 0/52
  • Euro 3yo’s 7; US 3yo’s 2 (last one in 1989)
  • 27/35 won G1 that season (7/8 exceptions were Euro, & averaged 13/1)
  • 12/22 Euro winners last ran in the Arc (not usually the ‘obvious’ one, though Enable doubled up in ’18)
  • Arc winners are 1/7 in same season (Enable first horse to do the double)
  • 8 US winners ran in Joe Hirsch, six of them winning that key prep (Arklow ’19)
  • 22/25 since ’94 had 3-8 starts – 3-4; 4 or 5-6; 6 to 8-12 (5 of last 7 had 6-8 seasonal runs, Enable won off just 2 runs in ’18)
  • Every winner to have had at least two 1m4f runs won or was 100% ITM at the distance
  • Europe 6 1/2 US 5 1/2 in SoCal (DH in 2003)
  • Last 20 renewals: Europe 15 1/2 US 4 1/2


How the runners fit


A couple of US-trained horses, Acclimate and Channel Maker, are likely to make this a firm test; Bandua has led in two of his last four also. That may not play to the suspect stamina of the best American turf horse this year, Bricks And Mortar. It should suit the European runners.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


Always a fascinating race even if it is one in which I generally develop a strong opinion (and commensurate wagering position) on a horse that loses!

This year we have the Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyck, taking on the undisputed best domestic turfer, Bricks And Mortar. Both are classy, neither is bombproof.

Bricks And Mortar has won ten of a dozen lifetime starts and is unbeaten in six in the last two years. He’s won at Gulfstream, Fairgrounds, Churchill Downs, Belmont and Arlington; he’s won on firm turf, good turf and yielding turf; but he’s never won at a mile and a half.

True, he’s never run at that distance: his trainer Chad Brown agonized over whether to drop down to the Mile or up to the Turf, eventually plumping for the latter, and longer, trip. If this race was a mile and a quarter, he’d be sent off significant odds on, and likely win. But it’s not. It’s at a mile and a half, and what looks like being a truly run mile and a half at that. That is a major question mark.

A minor question mark is his layoff – 84 days, since early August – which is unconventional for a US runner in this race. He’s the favourite and likely to be bet down to about 6/4 on the tote; and that’s a bet against, though if he stays he probably does win.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Anthony Van Dyck went from a soft ground Lingfield Derby Trial victory to Epsom glory… and then to defeat in the Irish Derby, defeat in the King George at Ascot, and defeat in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Excuses abound: he was given too much to do in the Irish Derby, where the front-runner stayed in front; he resented the soft ground at Ascot; and trip was too short in the Irish Champion. All plausible – reasonable even – but we have to consider whether we want to accept 9/4 about a horse that has lost his last three and seven of his twelve lifetime starts.

This is no match race. Oh no, sir. Charlie Appleby, whose Breeders’ Cup record reads 116012, has thrown Old Persian into the mix. The four-year-old son of Dubawi has won three of five this campaign, all of them overseas, all of them on good or quicker turf, all of them over twelve furlongs. It may be that he benefits from the application of Lasix, or perhaps the competition is a notch below; either way, he fits here and his trainer’s record is most appealing.

AvD’s stablemate, Mount Everest, is next in the betting. Owned by Flaxman Holdings, or The Niarchos Family as we know them, he looks about ten pounds short of the requisite standard on current form. With just seven runs on his CV he could improve but a heavy ground Listed win at a shorter trip is a quirky preparation for a battle that normally involves Arc-calibre horses. He fits the ‘wrong Euro’ profile that so often bags the spoils in the Turf – to my persistent chagrin – and he’s the type I’d have to let beat me (again, sigh).

German entry Alounak was behind Old Persian in the Grosser Preis von Berlin in August but more recently ran a solid second in the Canadian International, a 1 ½ mile Grade 1 in Woodbine. There he ran a close second to Desert Encounter having not had the smoothest passage; I don’t think he was an unlucky loser necessarily but he can be marked up marginally. On Timeform ratings his best run gives him nothing to find with Anthony Van Dyck.

The rest are American horses where a stretch of the imagination is required to see them repelling the European challenge. Let’s review them all the same.

Arklow has run 23 times and yet his most recent – a half-length verdict over Channel Maker and Sadler’s Joy in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch at Belmont – was his best. Prior to that he’d fill minor placings in a raft of Graded Stakes, trading places with the likes of Channel Cat, Zulu Alpha, and Channel Maker.

There is very little between the group of them. The aforementioned five-year-old Channel Maker has arguably the best form but his Santa Anita record – one third from three starts – is off-putting.

Channel Cat was fourth in the Joe Hirsch, just 2 ¼ lengths back, and had previously won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes, sandwiching third in the G1 Sword Dancer between those two.

Zulu Alpha is six now, older than any winner of the BC Turf. Indeed, Turf runners aged six and above are a combined 0-from-52. That’s a pretty big knock to overcome, especially when your form is not quite good enough anyway.

Bandua, formerly with Dermot Weld and now in the care of Jack Sisterson, has been whacked on both attempts at this far, including in Latrobe’s Irish Derby.            

Phil d’Amato saddles Acclimate. Alas, his runner here is a stone and more below what is normally needed, and will likely sacrifice himself on the front. That said, the likes of Highland Reel – obviously higher class – have won from the front. He’s a son of Acclamation and has never run this far.

Richard Mandella is a trainer who has nine Breeders’ Cup wins, including two – well, one and a half – in Santa Anita BC Turf’s, courtesy of Kotashaan in 1993 (Arcangues’ Classic year, remember him?) and Johar’s dead heat with High Chapparal in 2003. He also trained Beholder to three Breeders’ Cup wins, so he knows how to get the job done at this festival. His Turf record is 106441023: six of nine finishing in the first four.

His United is lightly raced but has never run and never run fast enough to suggest he can win a race of this quality. That said, he was a running-on third in a ten-furlong Grade 2 last time and it’s not impossible he could improve for the extra 440 yards.

Trends Contenders:

Anthony van Dyck, Old Persian

Form Contenders:

Anthony Van Dyck, Old Persian, Bricks And Mortar

Turf Selection:

A fascinating race which could go one of many ways. At the prices – always ‘at the prices’! – I’m inclined to let AvD or B&M beat me, which they very well might.

But I think Old Persian looks a very solid each way bet, notwithstanding that a place will incur a small loss on stakes. His form overseas is strong, and his trainer’s form at this meeting is bombproof. He’s tactically versatile so stall ten shouldn’t be a hindrance. William Buick rides.

I’m not convinced it’s worth chancing a big price as the top three really ought to win it between them; but it is conceivable that one or both of Anthony and Bricks miss the board for different reasons (and also that Old P does, natch).

In that spirit of adventure, windmill-tilters may do worse than chance Alounak, whose Canadian form is fair, and/or United, whose trainer’s Turf record is impeccable and who could conceivably improve for the longer trip.


Back Old Persian each way at 4/1 general

Consider either Alounak 20/1 general and/or United 66/1 general on the US tote


 Turf Review:

Bricks And Mortar had a rough trip throughout but was still able to show tenacity, speed and stamina to win. He’ll likely be US horse of the year now, which is quite rare for a turf horse. Anthony Van Dyck had a difficult passage too, with the gap probably not there in the straight for him. I doubt he’d have won in any case, but he might have.

Old Persian was dreadful and clearly failed to give his running, while Alounak ran respectively in fifth. United, a massive price with whoever he was backed, ran an absolutely mighty race to finish a head second at something like 50/1.

12.44pm GMT: Breeders Cup Classic (1m2f, Dirt)

Key Trends (35 renewals so far)

  • All of the last 18 Classic winners had 3-8 runs that season
  • 34/35 ran 1-2-3 LTO (21 x 1st; 8 x 2nd; 5 x 3rd)
  • 31/35 won a G1 that season
  • 35/35 aged 3-5 (6yo+ 0/31) – 3yo 12 wins; 4yo 14 wins; 5yo 9 wins.
  • 20 of last 30 posted stamina (6f+) workout since last run
  • 10/11 40+ day layoffs posted Bullet AND/OR Stamina works since last run
  • 9/12 3yo winners ran in at least one Triple Crown race (1 exception was a Euro, 1 was 2016 winner, Arrogate)
  • 21 of the last 24 posted 100+ Beyer last time but below previous best
  • Where no distance form, check breeding for stamina credentials

How the runners fit


A bit of a mess, this. McKinzie wants to lead and will probably get the chance to unless Vino Rosso tries to gun from stall ten. McK has more speed, Vino more stamina, so the Baffert runner may get his own way at the head of affairs.

Key Trials:

See for race videos


A sub-par Classic lacking a real superstar. While that’s a touch disappointing from a ‘story’ perspective, it makes for a terrific betting puzzle.

The favourite all year has been Bob Baffert’s McKinzie and he’s still clinging on to that mantle, albeit by a thread and at 4/1, a price which well reflects how open the race is and how much some bookmakers want to ‘get’ this guy.

Why? Because he is probably more of a miler than a mile and a quarter horse. This year he’s won just two of six starts, both at nine furlongs or so, and run second on the other four occasions. He was beaten out of sight when just 3/1 in last year’s Classic, and was a nose behind Gift Box in his sole other attempt at the distance. That horse was subsequently beaten by Vino Rosso and Seeking The Soul, both of whom line up here, demonstrating McKinzie’s frailties in terms of superior form credentials.

Regular jockey Mike Smith has been jocked off in favour of Joel Rosario, Baffert conceding that Smith was ‘just finishing second on this horse too often’. He was beaten by Mongolian Groom when 1/5 last time, and swishes his tail under pressure: not a sign of great resilience.

Battling for market primacy are Vino Rosso and Code Of Honor, 1-2 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Vino Rosso was first past the post but the placings were reversed due to some fairly minor interference in the home straight. The Todd Pletcher-trained Curlin four-year-old has ‘won’ twice at the Classic range this year, including at Santa Anita, and he is a certain stayer where McKinzie is not. He is quite likely to go after Baffert’s horse in the early part of the race thought may not be fast enough to get the lead.

Code Of Honor was third in a soupy Kentucky Derby before winning the G3 Dwyer and, more notably, the Grade 1 Travers, both by three lengths. Then came the stretch drive dust up with Vino Rosso. There ought again to be little between the pair.

The five-year-old mare Elate is a strong stayer at the trip – she’s three from three over ten furlongs – and dodges Midnight Bisou in the furlong-shorter Distaff to take on the boys, a la Zenyatta. Second in her most recent two starts, both at the Distaff trip, she takes on the boys for the first time in an 18-race career.

Yoshida is the ‘wise guy’ horse. He’s not won a race since September last year, a run of six defeats, but – so the argument goes – he needs them to go hard as he’s a very strong stayer. That may be partially true – he does stay well – but he’ll never have a better chance to win a Classic than last year when they went a ridiculous 46 ½ seconds for the first half mile; in spite of the ensuing pace collapse, Yoshida could only run on into fourth. They are unlikely to go as hard this time and it is unlikely to set up for Bill Mott’s five-year-old (unplaced in his two 10f races).

It’s big prices the rest but such an open renewal demands scrutiny of the ‘rags’. Higher Power represents last year’s Classic-winning connections of John Sadler and Hronis Racing. He has a distance score in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar two back but hasn’t got another run close to backing that up. It’s possible he bounced a little last time in the G1 Awesome Again over a furlong shorter last time and would be involved if reverting to the Pac Classic form.

Brad Cox’s three-year-old, Owendale, has won three Grade 3’s this season and was third in the G1 Preakness, part of the Triple Crown. But he clunked in the mile and a quarter Travers and doesn’t look like an improver: despite freshening since his last race he’s been on the go since January.

Mongolian Groom caused a 25/1 upset in the Awesome Again last time, and had a speed figure that would make him competitive the time before; but there’s a solid chance he’ll bounce off that significant career best as well as his trip form suggesting he doesn’t stay this far.

Math Wizard was an even bigger shock G1 winner last time, scooping the Pennsylvania Derby at 30/1. If nothing else these two prove that bombs do happen in Grade 1’s this year. He too may bounce off a marginal career top, but if he doesn’t he’s slightly over-priced. He was able to quicken off slow early fractions and saw the trip out best of all. Stepping up to ten for the first time could eke out further improvement; he’s been largely consistent this season, his one heavy defeat coming when trying to close on a speed-favouring track in the West Virginia Derby.

Another three-year-old 33/1 shot is War Of Will, who was the meat in the Kentucky Derby sandwich when his owner-mate Maximum Security got sensationally disqualified from first (sensational also because I backed the promoted winner, Country House, at 65/1!). He was behind Math Wizard in the Penn Derby, but had previously won the Preakness. Drawn 4 he will stalk the early pace and looks as though he stays the trip. Not entirely out of it.

That leaves the six-year-old elder statesman of the field, Seeking The Soul. His form of last year would give him a squeak but Stewart Dallas’s charge has been hopelessly out of form in his last two. Prior to that he did record a competitive figure when winning the Stephen Foster at Churchill but I don’t think he stays this far.

Trends Contenders:

Code Of Honor, Elate, Higher Power

Form Contenders:

Most of them

Classic Selection:

This really is a bugger’s muddle. McKinzie has some class and he will probably lead, but he looks a non-stayer. Vino Rosso and Code Of Honor are both sure to see out the trip and have form to win: they are reliable but hard to separate.

Elate is the story horse – mare, I should say – but I can’t quite see her being quick enough. I don’t particularly like Yoshida, though in truth I don’t particularly like any of them..!

The most solid win proposition may be Code Of Honor. Despite a long season he’s looked progressive in his last three runs and, if he can stomach one last skirmish, he ticks the most boxes. His wide draw is mitigated by a closing run style and he should be able to drift towards the rail at the tail of the field.

It’s the sort of race where it might just pay to try a Hail Mary play, too. In that context, Math Wizard is not impossible. He is untried at this distance and the way he finished in the nine-furlong Penn Derby gives hope he might improve for it. It’s possible he’ll bounce off the last run but if he brings his ‘A’ game he can play for places.

Similarly, War Of Will, a Triple Crown race winner this season, would not be the worst big-priced guess up.


Back Code Of Honor at 9/2 Victor, 888, 365

Consider Math Wizard 33/1 (Coral, 365) and/or War Of Will 33/1 (Lads) each way

Classic Review:

This is the race which smarted most in terms of the Compendium. Obviously it was a/the key race and despite it being messy, with what we know by post time about the track, I already knew Code Of Honor couldn’t win. He’d simply be too far back and not able to get into it.

I also felt strongly that McKinzie, who might get first run, would fail to stay, as can be seen from the selection section blurb directly above. The line which followed that was, “Vino Rosso and Code Of Honor are both sure to see out the trip and have form to win: they are reliable but hard to separate.”

Well, when the track came up the way it did, they were not hard to separate but the Compendium had gone to print and the die was cast.

From a personal perspective what was equally galling is that, having backed Vino Rosso for small money at 12/1, I deemed 9/2 too short to go in again. That was a very poor, and fatigued after a long day, choice.

Math Wizard ran a fair race to be fifth, and best of the three-year-olds; though that looks to be damning him with some very faint praise.

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