Breeders' Cup Turf Preview
If the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) has a standout in Legatissimo, the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) has a titanic, larger-than-life colossus. Although there could be a slight concern about whether the ground is riding a bit soft, it’s too thin – and variable – a reed to lean on. That’s just not enough to sway us against the prohibitive favorite.
1ST – GOLDEN HORN (4-5) needs no introduction, having rolled through the Derby (G1), Eclipse (G1), Irish Champion (G1) (on yielding ground) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), and this represents a drop in class, relatively speaking. The John Gosden trainee isn’t invincible, since he was edged by the 50-1 Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International (G1) on rain-softened ground at York in August, but there were also tactical flubs in play there. Connections believed that he was too “fresh,” having not raced for six weeks at that point. Golden Horn is a powerful type who thrives on racing, so his recent outings this fall may actually redound to his benefit. Indeed, Gosden revealed that the star colt has gained weight since the Arc. Two-for-two at this trip, and likely to appreciate having the use of Big Blue Kitten’s pacemaker Shining Copper, Golden Horn appears nearly bullet-proof.
2ND – FOUND (8-1) is the plausible upsetter for the Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore tandem. The high-class sophomore filly has been more than holding her own against Group 1 males this fall, her resume notably featuring a rallying second to Golden Horn in the Irish Champion and to Fascinating Rock in the Champion (G1) at Ascot, where she relegated hot favorite Jack Hobbs (Golden Horn’s stablemate) to third. Found never had a chance when suffering in traffic in the Arc. While the obvious concern is that Found will be making her fifth start in two months here, the first was no more taxing than a work in company (the Royal Whip [G3]), and the third was the Arc, where she barely saw daylight. That was her only attempt at 1 1/2 miles so far, but the daughter of Galileo ought to find it within her compass, especially around a flat, turning course like Keeneland. She’ll also enjoy the give in the ground.
3RD – THE PIZZA MAN (15-1), who narrowly prevailed over Big Blue Kitten in the Arlington Million (G1), may get the better of him again on the rain-softened ground he handles so well. The popular Illinois-bred will surely get bet down off that morning line. Aside from his burgeoning fan base, the Roger Brueggemann charge also turned in a strong prep over the course when a near-miss second in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). Arguably in career-best form right now, the son of 2007 Turf champ English Channel could be end up being best of the home team in these conditions.
Longshot: RED RIFLE (10-1) has come a long way since his second in the soggy Sycamore (G3) over this course and distance a year ago. Once finding his right running style as a closer for Todd Pletcher, the Giant’s Causeway gelding looked like one to follow in this division with his tour de force in the Bowling Green (G2). But what really swayed me was his clear second to Flintshire in the Sword Dancer (G1) next time at Saratoga. Flintshire would have been a big player here, and although Red Rifle was no match for him, he gave game chase to beat the consistent yardstick Twilight Eclipse by 3 1/4 lengths. I think Red Rifle wasn’t well placed early in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), leading the main body of the field behind Shining Copper, and a return to more patient handling could help. Also, note that SLUMBER (8-1), who was only just supplemented to this race, is much closer to stablemate Big Blue Kitten than a superficial glance implies.
Golden Horn photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography.