Breeders’ Cup Thoughts: Mile and Turf by Brian Leckie

Breeders’ Cup Mile 

Selections: 5-8/11-10-4

Are you ready for some SPEED???? Holy moly, we’ve got five confirmed front-runners and another four stalkers in this year’s Mile. That leaves only Ballagh Rocks, Om, Lancaster Bomber, Suedois, and Zelzal to come from “midpack” or off the pace. Do I think that the pace will ultimately be the downfall of all who chase it? For the most part, yes- except for the two favorites. But I’ve noticed something that separates one from the other: turn of foot. Ribchester is a grinder that has ended up in the exacta 7 times out of 9 going a mile, and has never been out of the money. What is less noticeable is that Godolphin has a record of 15: 0-0-1 in the Mile, and take note that Ribchester is the only Euro in this race that is not getting Lasix. Red flags. Contrast that with World Approval who is coming into this race VERY sharp with two straight 0’s on the sheets at his only two tries at a mile. He has a great turn of foot at the end of his races when he separates from his competition with authority. When the real running comes, he’s the one that’s going to separate himself and try to fend off the closers. I don’t see Ribchester being able to match strides with him. If anyone is going to come and mow him down, it’s the pair from the Shadwell at Keeneland: Suedois or Ballagh Rocks. But I think World Approval is the best horse in this race, and they’ll have to catch him to win.

If you’re looking for a price underneath, Lancaster Bomber has flown across the pond twice to two second place finishes while running on Lasix. I think this field is a bit tough to get another exacta finish, but don’t rule him out for the tri and super slots. I considered using Om underneath given his consistency in the trifecta this year, but who preps on the downhill turf at Santa Anita to prepare for the BC Mile? Bottom of super only. And finally, Zelzal is a real wild card here. How will he take to Lasix? Suedois had a very similar sheet pattern coming over here running 3’s and 4’s before exploding with a 0 in the Shadwell. Zelzal certainly will get the pace in front of him, but the short stretch might be a concern with him closing from last. He’s also run much better over firmer ground, which he’ll get at Del Mar. Hmmm……

To recap, I like World Approval to win, followed by either Suedois or Ballagh Rocks (I view them as a two-for-one deal), Ribchester, and Lancaster Bomber at a price.


Breeders’ Cup Turf

Selections: 3-5-12-13/1

Sorry to say, but this race is going to go the way of the favorites. Highland Reels last effort in the Champion Stakes was sneaky good over soft ground that he dislikes, with Ryan Moore taking him to the far outside rail traveling significantly more ground than the rest of the field. He still ran a very respectable third to an unbelievable performance by Cracksman. His two wins this year both came over firmer courses, with the Prince of Wales Timeform rating reaching 128 and a victory over Ulysees. The price will be right for the defending champion. Remember when Conduit repeated in ’08-’09? His main European competitor, Ulysees, has been running lights-out this year and has been unfortunate to run into monster filly Enable twice. When was the last time we saw a horse with a Timeform rating of 130 enter the turf? He also has the strongest sheet numbers coming in, and he’s another noted firm turf enthusiast. But note he does not have a win at 1 ½ this year. What he does have going for him is a superfecta finish in the Arc, which Highland Reel successfully parlayed into a BC victory last year, and has been a springboard for several other Turf winners. You can’t go wrong with either of these two Euros for the win spot, but I’ll take the one with the longer odds. Beach Patrol is the only legitimate American contender for the exacta. His race in the Joe Hirsch at Belmont was awesome, stopping the timer in 2:26 1/5 in his first time going long. These three should comprise the trifecta, and will make for an easy exacta box. The only two I would also consider for the bottom of the superfecta are Sadler’s Joy and Talismanic. Both have good records at 1 ½.

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