Some thoughts on the 12 furlong Breeder’s Cup Turf for ThoroFan’s HandicappingCorner
Can an American-based horse win the Breeder’s Cup Turf this year? Well we do have a very good chance, and it would be great to keep the prize “at home” but it won’t be easy. It’s always an International event and though Euros rarely send their very best, their second string is usually still better than what America has to offer. And last year’s winner is back. Let’s break this down.
St Nicholas Abbey - He is back again, and is eligible to join only two other double turf winners in Conduit and High Chaparral. The son of Montjeu, he was Europe’s best 2 year old in 2009. The O’Brien trainee has earned over 4 million dollars and is a multiple group/grade1 winner. His last race in the Arc, was not good however, but mostly due to the extremely soft footing. And while he won’t get the Churchill turf, he will get the firm Santa Anita turf. He is used to shipping, and has his familiar jock, the young, Joseph Obrien. Trainer has said “He loves fast ground” That being said, he has a good chance to repeat.
Shareta - This 4 year old filly, owned and bred by the Aga Khan, has won 2 Group 1’s this year, against her own kind. She was second to the Arc winner Danedream, while beating Snow Fairy last year, but all she could manage was a 9th this year in the same race. However she beat the Arc winner, one race back in the Prix Vermeille. According to her handlers, she too, did not care for the soft Arc footing this year. They have shipped her here to get firm turf, and she will get her preferred surface. She has a lot of class, drops some weight and loves the distance. She had a very nice gallop over the dirt on Tuesday. Connections say “you can put her anywhere in the race.” I like her chances.
Cogito – Four out of his 5 total starts have been in Europe. He has had one race in this country, a 4th in the Jamaica at Belmont, and he was first time Lasix and first time blinkers. He is coming in with very little to suggest that he can be a factor. Would have to improve immensely.
Treasure Beach – This son of Galileo is a world traveler. He has not won a race this year, but most recently was second to Point of Entry in the 6 horse Turf Classic. Another trained by Obrien.
Trailblazer – This horse gets better as the distance gets longer and has hit the board in some top Japanese races. He had a very nice prep over the Santa Anita course.
Slim Shady - Three wins over the course, he is capable of setting the fractions, or sitting just off it. He is consistent, but has never won a Grade1. His work on Sunday was less than stellar though; as he went 5/8’s in 1.01 and tired badly, with no gallop out, according to the DRF. But that was on the main track.
Little Mike - Dale Romans took his time in determining which of his horses would run in the Turf. And then he entered both. Speedball Little Mike will more than likely be contesting the pace. And going downhill in the first part of the race, will make that pace a little more heated. He is a remarkable little horse, but has never been the distance. He and Dullahan both galloped Wednesday for the first time over the downhill course and seemed to handle it. He will go as far as he can.
Dullahan - Roman’s other horse has never won a race on turf. He is a confirmed synthetic specialist, winning the Pacific Classic; in his only start against older, while beating the fave in 2012 Classic, Game on Dude. He has performed well on firm turf and he will be closing late. If connections think this is the spot for him, then maybe it is?
Kindergarden Kid – This 4 year old by Dynaformer, has turned his career around since being gelded. And the Dynaformers’ tend to improve as they mature. At 30-1, he could get a piece.
Optimizer – Well bred Lucas charge, finally found life after a dull Classics campaign, when switched to turf. Will probably go to the lead, but would have to improve a ton to compete with these. However, he is the only horse in the race that is sired by a Breeder’s Cup Turf winner in English Channel.
Turbo Compressor – Pletcher horse seems to do his best when he gets the lead, which won’t be an easy task in here, and with Little Mike and Optimizer drawn outside of him, it’s not likely. But he is 1 of 3 in here that has had a start over the Santa Anita turf course.
Point of Entry – Dynaformer colt coming in off 5 wins, the last 3 being in Grade 1’s. He has done nothing wrong so far, and is the best chance for the US to take this prestigious race. He has the one post which will work to his favor in saving ground. He loves to hear his feet rattle and will get the surface he excels on. He disliked the soft going last time in the Turf Classic, yet still showed class and determination to win and beat Treasure Beach and Kindergarden Kid, two that he faces in here. If there’s any knock on this horse, it would be the mediocre competition he has faced.
If the Euros have shipped well, both St. Nicholas Abbey and the filly Shareta, appear to be the class of the field. Point of Entry, however, has just gotten so good, and always seems to work out a great trip. As far as the outsiders, the well- bred Optimizer has some upside and Kindergarden Kid could hit the board.