Preview: Breeders Cup Friday

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7.30 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1)

Aiden O’Brien has two very strong contenders in a race he has won twice in the past. Hit A Bomb is probably the strongest candidate of the two Aiden saddles –  the colt scooted home at Dundalk when last seen after he got off the mark on his debut. Clearly a very talented individual, he would be very hard to beat if he hadn’t been drawn in the car park. Ryan Moore will have to work his magic. It won’t be easy.

Soft ground is detrimental to the chance of Ballydoyle’s second string, Shogun. He drowned at his only try in really soft conditions, however looked special when winning a maiden at the Curragh on good to yielding ground – similar to what is expected at Keeneland’s turf track today.

Whether he can perform on this sort of ground to a level that is required to be competitive in in top race like this remains to be seen – but connections hailed this colt as a special one not so long ago. I really liked his performance at Longchamp earlier this month when he finished  strongly in a race he meat plenty of in-running trouble. He wasn’t far beaten in the end behind Cymric, who finished a close runner-up that day and is one of the leading fancies here again.

Shogun has a good draw and I would hope to see him being ridden positively as the trip shouldn’t be a problem. He looks a colt we haven’t seen the best of yet and I believe he is underestimated.

Shogun @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts Win

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8.50 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1)

A wide open race for the juvenile fillies. Aiden O’Brien saddles the favourite with progressive Alice Springs. There is plenty to like about her: draw is handy, trip will suit this Galileo filly, fine form in the book. Question mark is the ground. It’s likely to be tacky. We have to see if that really suits her.

Harmonize was a nice winner of the Grade 3 Jessamin Stakes here at Keeneland recently. She encountered a wide trip and did well to win from where she came from. Interesting though that the horse beaten in second by half a lengths seemed to have a more ideal run visually, but in fact only saved a neglectable amount of ground according to Trakus figures.

The runner-up that day was Sapphire Kitten. A very lightly raced filly. That was only her second career start and she travelled really nicely. She seemed to be outstayed eventually, but that means the slight drop in trip to 1m will suit today. How she copes with the ground is a question for all in the field – on pedigree she has a fair chance to handle it just fine. At 16/1 she is a nice value play in this field.

John Gosden has brought over talented sprinter Illuminate. Already a Group 2 winner and excellent runner-up in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, she has obvious credentials to land this race if her stamina lasts. I’m not all that confident in that in the ground conditions.

One that doesn’t seem to get any love is formerly in Ireland trained Last Waltz. She’s having his first start in the US today after showing plenty of promise in his native country. She was a close 3rd in the Group 3 Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh when last seen, where showed plenty of early speed and was just beaten in the dying strides. That encourages me to believe that she can overcome her wide draw here.

The ground won’t be an issue either I believe. Given that it is drying all the time, she should be okay. On pedigree the step up to 1m will suit her well enough too and first time lasix can only be a positive – so at 20/1 she is quite a big price.

One more to mention is Catch A Glimpse. A two times winner on turf, she is likely to be up with the early pace from a good draw and may well improve if she can cope with the ground.

Sapphire Kitten @ 16/1 VC – 5pts Win
Last Waltz @ 20/1 WIlliam Hill – 5pts Win

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9.35 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Fillies’ Grade 1)

You can’t fault Wedding Toast – she is the clear and fair favourite to land the Distaff. Two Grade 1’s on the bounce, both in utterly impressive fashion. Only question is: can she bring her top game to Keeneland? She finished 4th in her only start at this track last year and has a clear preference for Belmont.

What are the dangers? Got Lucky has to be one. The dramatic winner of the Grade 1 Spinster won’t mind a poor draw as he usually comes from behind. He’ll need a lot of luck though if he wants to do it again here, this time in an even deeper field.

Classy Sheer Drama has got a poor draw, which could be detrimental to her chances. She won two Grade 1’s this year and clearly has to enter calculations. But with the track an unknown, and the draw against her, others may make more appeal.

The pick of the three year old’s is clearly I’m A Chatterbox. I’m a big fan of her I have to admit. She is gutsy, honest filly, but one who poses tons of talent. She usually travelles well thanks to her ability of an outstanding cruising speed and once in front doesn’t let go.

She won the Grade 1 Cotillion when last seen after finishing second twice as well as third in her last three starts the top level – though if not for a crazy demotion in the American Oaks, she would have two Grade 1’s victories to her name now.

I’m A Chatterbox has been on the go for a while now, and that is a concern. So is the draw. From box one it’s never easy but she showed plenty of early pace in the past so I’m hopeful she can get out of this easily. If she has still something in the tank then it’s hard to see her not being involved when it really matters here, given that she has won at Keeneland before.

I’m A Chatterbox @ 8/1 Paddy Power

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