Breeders Cup: Who's Aidan O'Brien Bringing to Del Mar?

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D.S. Williamson

September 26th, 2017

Like he does every year, Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O'Brien should send a few top horses to this year's Breeders' Cup. O'Brien is no stranger to the winner's circle. He might be the most successful international trainer to ever live. As always, O'Brien's going to have a competitive contingent running for Ballydoyle during the 2017 Breeders' Cup Festival.



Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf:  Alice Springs, Hydrangea


There's a chance Hydrangea runs in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes on Oct. 7. Pay attention to the race if she does. Hydrangea doesn't have to win to make her presence felt in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She's a step below Winter, the top female turf runner overseas, even though she beat Winter in the Group 1 Matron in her last. Hydrangea finished a good 4th at the BC Filly & Mare Turf distance of 1 1/4 miles in the Group 1 Nassau before her win in the Matron. That race, more than the Matron win, is probably why Aidan's considering entering her into the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs' last race was a second place finish behind Diamond Fields in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes. Diamond Fields, who is also being considered for the BC Filly & Mare Turf, beat Alice Springs in that race. O'Brien had to be encouraged by the run. Alice Springs was last seen racing against Tourist, Tepin, and Midnight Storm in the 2016 Breeders'  Cup Mile. There's a chance she shows up in the BC Mile again.

Tourist and Tepin have both retired. Since she's sired by Galileo, she shouldn't have any trouble getting the distance in the BC Filly & Mare Turf if Ballydoyle decides to go that way.

Breeders Cup Turf:  Highland Reel

Last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner might be better this year. Before finishing 4th in the King George IV and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Highland Reel had won the Group 1 Coronation Cup and the Group 1 Prince of Wales Stakes.

There's some question as to whether or not Aidan O'Brien enters Highland Reel into this year's Prix De l'Arc de Triomphe. There's no doubt that he's going to enter Highland Reel into the Breeders' Cup Turf. The purse is $2 million while Highland Reel should relish the hard grass at Del Mar the same way he relished the hard grass at Santa Anita.

Breeders Cup Mile:  Lancaster Bomber

Lancaster Bomber's excellent 2nd place finish in the Woodbine Mile all but assured his participation in the 2017 Breeders' Cup Mile. There's no monster horse like Wise Dan pointing to the BC Mile this year.

Oscar Performance, who beat Lancaster Bomber in the 2016 BC Juvenile Turf, should battle World Approval for favoritism in this year's Mile unless Ribchester does enter the starting gate. Even if Ribchester enters, he figures to be beatable. It's difficult to see Aidan O'Brien not taking advantage of a softer than normal BC Mile with Lancaster Bomber.


If the 2017 Breeders' Cup were at a racetrack Aidan knew well, like Belmont or Santa Anita, he might enter more than what I've listed here. He still might enter more than what I've listed here. In any case, horseplayers must pay attention to any Aidan O'Brien trained horse that shows up in a 2017 Breeders' Cup Race.