The second biggest prize on Breeder’s Cup weekend is the Grade 1 Emirates Turf. It is for 3 and up, at a mile and a half, and in the 28 renewals of this prestigious race, American based horses have won 10 times. It is no secret that the European based horses excel in this event.
I am delighted to analyze this Breeder’s Cup event for ThoroFan’s Handicapper’s Corner. I will be heading out to Churchill to attend my 21st BC. As a result, I will be writing this piece early so I will remind readers to pay attention to the condition of the course on race day, as weather and Mother Nature can change things up at the last minute. Also be aware of any other changes or bits of information that will be revealed in the days that lead up to Saturday, for example, how the Euros shipped and what they looked like out on the track.
When handicapping a race like this the first thing I look at is “Who has won going the tough mile and a half distance?” Your majority of horses want no part of 12 furlongs. So pay attention to those that have already had success doing it.
Course condition is all important. Trainers have been talking a lot about the turf course this year, that it is hard, yet throws up a lot of clods. If there is any rain then you want to consider the amount of “cut” in the ground. The more water/ rain/ moisture in the track, the more “cut”, or the softer, the course is. Some horses love this, some do not. A horse will usually not perform at their best if they are uncomfortable with the footing.
While most of the entrants in a race like this run at the highest level, sometimes you can separate them a bit, by comparing “who ran against who” and how they fared. This is a way to estimate their “class”.
St. Nicholas Abbey – Very talented colt, but is he going in the wrong direction?
Sarafina – Lots to like here, multiple Group 1winner has beaten colts before. Seventh place finish in the Arc was not as bad as it looks, horses that run well in the Arc have done well here
Dean’s Kitten – Always tries, distance won’t be a problem, but class hike could be
Stately Victor – One turf win on resume, big reach here.
Teaks North – great over-achieving gelding, Monmouth specialist, not sure he wants to go this far
Await The Dawn – A 4-yr old with just 7 lifetime starts. Weakened first time in Group 1, in short field, but had an excuse as he was found to not be 100%. Should like any type course, Good connections.
Sea Moon – Lightly raced, troubled trip in last, but an up- and- comer, how good is he?
Brilliant Speed – always liked this 3 year old. Turf is best surface, never off the board on the lawn, could improve with added distance. Some upside still, maybe the best US horse of this group
Midday - +3million dollar earner, got beat a neck in last year’s f &m turf. A top class mare, would be no surprise. She is the only entrant that has a run over the Churchill Turf Course.
If the Europeans ship well, then ignore the rest. I look for Sarafina, Midday and Sea Moon as the three top choices in the Emirates Turf. The fact that the fillies have other options, yet preferred to run against colts at the added distance speaks to the confidence in their connections. And Sea Moon looks to have a lot of talent. If you want a price horse, maybe it’s Brilliant Speed. The Dynaformers get better as they mature and though this colt would need to run the race of his life, maybe he can.