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By Anil Mukhi | 04 Nov 2016 |

Anil Mukhi

The 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies 4th Race    Post Time 12:05 pm PDT (12:35 am IST)

A  dozen 2-y-os will line up in what looks a very open renewal of the Juvenile Fillies over 1-1/16 miles. Bob Baffert sends out a pair here in Noted And Quoted (by The Factor), coming off a win over course and distance in the Gr.1 Chandelier Stakes, and Kaleem Shah's unbeaten home-bred American Gal (by Concord Point). Rafael Bejarano and Mike Smith will be on board, respectively. Martin Garcia, who often rides for Baffert, will be piloting the well-fancied Union Strike (by Union Rags) whose paternal half-sister Dancing Rags, fresh off a win in the Gr.1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland, will likely add some juice to the finish.

Also highly rated is With Honors (by War Front), unbeaten except for a narrow loss to the afore-mentioned Noted And Quoted. The up-and-coming international racing outfit, China Horse Club, fields Yellow Agate (by Gemologist), who is yet to taste defeat though her victory in Belmont Park's Gr.1 Frizette Stakes was a close run thing.

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf 5th Race  Post Time 12:43 pm PDT (1:13 am IST)

Sticking with the distaffers, the track will next see this $2 million affair being run over 10 furlongs on the grass. When she was in perfect health, Chad Brown's Lady Eli (by Divine Park) was pretty unbeatable as she showed when annexing the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies two years ago. Sadly she was then struck down with that deadly condition that is the bane of all horsepersons, namely laminitis. Painstakingly nursed back to health by some outstanding horsemanship and veterinary care, she showed she had returned to something approaching her best when obliging in the Gr.1 Flower Bowl Stakes recently.

Here she faces tough opposition in Aidan O'Brien's Seventh Heaven (by Galileo), Sir Michael Stoute's Queen's Trust (by Dansili), Richard Mandella's course-and-distance winner Avenge (by War Front), and last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine Catch A Glimpse (by City Zip). Adding to the keen interest in the outcome are some visitors from far and wide, which include Japan's Nuovo Record (by Heart's Cry), Peru's Ryans Charm (by Heatseeker) and Chile's Kitcat (by Scat Daddy). Quite a cast!

TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint   6th Race  Post Time 1:21 pm PDT (1:51 am IST)

Four of the nine runners in this $1.5 million race over 6 furlongs have won at least their last four starts each. As only one will be able to score here, there are going to be quite a few disappointed folk after the contestants have crossed the wire……

The pair with the best credentials are A.P. Indian (by Indian Charlie), from the barn of Arnaud Delacour, who has shown phenomenal improvement at age six and has actually won six-in-a-row, most recently a Gr.1 sprint at Keeneland under regular rider Joe Bravo, who is back in the saddle, and the Bob Baffert-trained Lord Nelson (by Pulpit). The last-named has home track advantage while the former is a shipper from the East and will have to adapt quickly.

Baffert has a second string to his bow in the three-year-old Drefong (by Gio Ponti), an unlikely sprinter since his sire was a middle distance turf specialist. Martin Garcia rides the talented colt, replacing Mike Smith who will guide Masochistic (by Sought After) instead. Darley castoff Joking (by Distorted Humor) was acquired by trainer Charlton Baker, whose silks he sports – he improved to take home the prestigious Gr.1 Vosburgh Stakes when last seen.

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint 7th Race Post Time 2:05 pm PDT (2:35 am IST)

Santa Anita's famous downhill 6 ½ furlongs turf course will see a packed field of 14 fleet-footed runners vying for supremacy. There is no standout runner and all the horses are quoted at better than 5 to 1. That's because winner picking is tricky given the unique configuration of the track.

Aidan O'Brien has sent his "nearly-there" runner Washington D.C. (by Zoffany) who has almost made it in big events on more than one occasion but who is winless since May this year. Could this be his turn? Ryan Moore will help to find out. Last year's winner Mongolian Saturday (by Any Given Saturday) is back again but seems to have lost a step or two.

Local hopes rest with course-and-distance winners Ambitious Brew (by Tizbud) and Holy Lute (by Midnight Lute) while Obviously (by Choisir) and Om (by Munnings) are a couple of others who will find the environment familiar. Celestine (by Scat Daddy) is an interesting outsider who ought to be involved in the finish for Joel Rosario and Bill Mott.

Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile 8th Race Post Time 2:43 pm PDT (3:13 am IST)

Like the corresponding race for fillies, this will be run over  1-1/16-mile for a purse of $2 million.

Disputing favouritism at around 9 to 2 each is a trio from diverse backgrounds. From Dale Romans' barn in the East comes Not This Time (by Giant's Causeway), who looks a cut above by virtue of a pair of runaway wins, including a Gr.3 event by almost nine lengths. Also representing that part of the country is Classic Empire (by Pioneerof the Nile) and schooled by Mark Casse. He is 3-from-4, though his sole loss came when he whipped around at the start, lost his rider and took no part. The addition of blinkers seems to have done the trick. From the West, the silks made so famous by Zenyatta will be sported by Gormley (by Malibu Moon), who like the second-named is already a Gr.1 winner.

They are followed at longer odds in the betting by Syndergaard (by Majesticperfection), trained by Todd Pletcher and his arch-rival, the unbeaten Practical Joke (by Into Mischief), sent out by Chad Brown, who offered this comment after morning exercise: "It was a very good work and he galloped out extremely well. I'm looking forward to getting this horse around two turns." Next in demand is Kaleem Shah's Klimt (by Quality Road), who was beaten by Gormley last time out but probably deserves another chance.

Longines Breeders' Cup Turf 9th Race Post Time 3:22 pm PDT 3:52 am IST)

There is a new race programmed in North America, scheduled to be the world's richest ($12 million), to be run on dirt at Gulfstream Park in Florida on January 28th, 2017. With one eye on possible participation in this race, the Coolmore team entered their splendid racemare, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victress Found (by Galileo) in the Breeders' Cup Classic – also on dirt – but at the last moment chose this far more suitable 1 ½ miles alternative on turf. She had won this race, which is the second-richest of the meeting with total prize money of $4 million, last year.

When you have the "Arc" winner as well as the runner-up (stablemate Highland Reel, also by Galileo) in the field you have to feel that the winner has already been named. That's when one needs to remember the admirable Flintshire (by Dansili), also runner-up twice in the "Arc" (when the Juddmonte hope was trained in France by Andre Fabre); the six-year-old, now with Chad Brown, has not been unplaced in his last fifteen starts and has been more or less at the upper echelons of his form this year. He has a great chance.

Others with European antecedents include Ectot (by Hurricane Run), Mondialiste and Ulysses (both by Galileo)  – all three would probably need to step up somehow if they were going to prevail on merit. A couple of interesting American-bred-and-trained customers are Mike Maker's Da Big Hoss (by Lemon Drop Kid), who is five-for-six this year, and his cross-country compatriot Ashleyluvssugar (by Game Plan), handled  by Peter Eurton. Both are available at 33 to 1 with British bookmakers, so could lead to some big payouts in the combination pools should they be involved.

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint 10th Race Post Time 4:01 pm PDT (4:31 am IST)

Amongst the newer events added to the menu when the Breeders' Cup programme was beefed up is the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, contested oddly enough over 7 furlongs! Presumably the idea was to attract a mix of sprinters and milers and those who framed this event have clearly succeeded as it has drawn 13 runners.

Trainer Tom Morley has once again booked John Velazquez for his consistent Haveyougoneaway (by Congrats), as he had when they teamed up to take home the Gr.1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga in August. It took $410,000 to separate Carina Mia (by Malibu Moon) from her breeders, Spendthrift Farm, but the buyers, Three Chimneys Farm, already consider it money well spent as she won the historic Gr.1 Acorn Stakes. Should she triumph here – and she has every chance – it will prove to be a bonanza.

Last year's winner Wavell Avenue (by Harlington) has not quite lived up to the promise she showed on that occasion, getting her photo clicked in the winner's enclosure only once since. But having done it in this very race, surely one cannot rule out the possibility that she could repeat. Trainer Michelle Nevin will saddle a pair of talented runners in By The Moon (by Indian Charlie) and Paulassilverlining (by Ghostzapper), who are almost equally well-backed.

Breeders' Cup Mile  11th Race Post Time 4:40 pm PDT (5:10 am IST)

If you have had the stamina to reach this far, don't go anywhere as one of the best races awaits you! This is the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile on turf, the field for which includes last year's heroine, Tepin (by Bernstein).

That grand gelding, the versatile Limato (by Tagula), has a superb finishing kick that has helped him prove effective at a range of trips from 5 furlongs to 7 furlongs in England. His connections (Henry Candy/Harry Bentley) have chosen this event – longer than he has essayed – rather than the Turf Sprint presumably because he will a greater opportunity to get a clear path in a tightly-packed field. However, with the calibre of rivals he is facing, even 7 to 2 seems too short a price.

Tepin, who owns a record of 13 victories from 22 lifetime appearances, has been virtually as good as ever this term and has thrown in a winning Royal Ascot effort for good measure. Alas she got upended by Photo Call (by Galileo) – who is also in the field – four weeks ago but should turn the tables. Another US-trained filly is Graham Motion's Miss Temple City (by Temple City), whose foreign sojourn was not so successful but who is formidable on home soil.

Aidan O'Brien is double-handed. He has a couple of high-value cards with which he will attempt to trump the opposition, namely Alice Springs (by Galileo) and Hit It A Bomb (by War Front). The former has the better recent form – she won the Gr.1 Sun Chariot Stakes last time out – while the latter has shown he travels well, having scored at last year's Breeders' Cup meeting, and could be a lively each-way prospect at 25 to 1.

Breeders' Cup Classic  12th Race Post Time 5:35 pm PDT (6:05 am IST)

Finally comes the piece de resistance! At the end of the 10 furlongs trip of this $6 million race, one will probably have seen the Thoroughbred destined to be crowned "Horse of the Year" for 2016. Ten have confirmed their participation of which only one is a three-year-old – Arrogate.

It provides yet another opportunity to see what is probably the world's best racehorse in training in action. That magnificent beast also happens to be the highest earner ever in North America. And his jockey Victor Espinoza regards him as superior to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Yes, we are speaking of California Chrome (by Lucky Pulpit), undefeated in six starts in 2016 including the Gr.1 Dubai World Cup (and previously winner of the 2014 Gr.1 Kentucky Derby).

Trained by the most likeable Art Sherman, California Chrome has a simple game plan – to head to the front and grind his rivals into dust. He is fully expected to do just that from draw # 4, though "evens" may be a trifle ungenerous given that a couple of gifted rivals are in the field. Barring misfortune, he is certain to beat seven of his opponents on merit. These include:

  • Melatonin (by Kodiak Kowboy), winner over course and distance in the Gr.1 Santa Anita Handicap
  • Last year's runner-up in the Gr.1 Breeders' Cup Classic, Effinex (by Mineshaft)
  • The 2015 Gr.1 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice (by Curlin)
  • Hero of last month's Gr.1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Hoppertunity (by Any Given Saturday)

That leaves only two who could potentially beat California Chrome on merit. If he can bring his Metropolitan Handicap form to the table, Godolphin's Frosted (by Tapit) can theoretically do it, since that day he was positively inspired. The victory margin of 14 lengths tells its own tale. The fly in the ointment is the fact that the grey from Kiaran McLaughlin's yard had been trounced by the public choice back in March in Dubai – and is probably not as good at 10 furlongs as he is at shorter.

Some years ago, Juddmonte Farms decided to strengthen its presence in top dirt races by acquiring yearlings bred for the job (most of their formidable home-breds are turf-oriented). One of these purchases was a $560,000 son of Unbridled's Song from the family of Meadow Star who was named Arrogate and entrusted to Bob Baffert. The grey colt was brought along nicely in anonymous events before shooting to stardom in the Gr.1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga which he annexed by 13 ½ lengths. That earned him a rating of 131 from Racing Post, just 2 points behind California Chrome, on only his fifth start. He could well improve and overtake his older rival – or he could "bounce" off such an energy-sapping effort. It's more likely he'll progress and with Mike Smith up he has every chance of giving his silver-haired schooler his third Breeders' Cup Classic winner in a row! He is quoted at 11 to 4.

The pace may play a role – too fast might "cook" the front-runners, too slow will disadvantage the trailers. Whatever the scenario, an exciting race is in prospect to end a fabulous carnival of racing.