The 2012 Breeders Cup Mile is set to run on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 4:40pm PST. A field of nine will face each other for the one mile event on the turf. This is arguably the toughest race of the 15 as each competitor has a legitimate chance of winning. Many feel it is a two horse race between the American Wise Dan and Irish Excelebration. For good reason considering their impressive career resume, but the other seven will certainly give them a run for their money.
Wise Dan qualified for the Breeders Cup Mile with his wins in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) at Woodbine on September 16 and Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland on October 6. The five year old son of Wiseman’s Ferry has won graded stakes on all three racing surfaces (all weather, dirt and turf). Not many horses can say that. After winning the Fayette Stakes (G2) and Clark Handicap (G1) to end 2011, Wise Dan continued his winning ways by posting a win in the Ben Ali Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. This off a five month layoff. After finishing 2nd in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs, trainer Charles Lopresti made the switch back to turf at the one mile distance. The move has paid serious dividends. He won the Fourstardave Handicap (G2) at Saratoga in August before winning the Woodbine Mile and Shadwell Mile. He’s now won 6 of his last 7 races and 8 of his last 10 overall. At this point, he is on the short list for horse of the year. A win in the BC Mile will solidify his place as one of the best in the country, if not the World.
Excelebration (IRE) makes the bold move of coming to the United States after running all 14 career races in Europe. The four year old colt has won 8 of 14 career starts for trainer Aidan O’Brien with six in Group company, and quite possibly could be close to unbeaten had he not been born in the same era as International superstar Frankel. Five times, he’s lost to Frankel with four of those five as the runner-up. I like the move to run him in the Breeders Cup Mile. We knew we wouldn’t get Frankel, so why not let World witness the 2nd best turf miler from Europe on one of the biggest stages? If he runs away with the race, we truly get a gauge on how good this colt is and how great Frankel was. Nonetheless, it will be exciting to see the top Americans versus one of the best from Europe. Isn’t that what this weekend is all about?
Obviously (IRE) has been a late bloomer and a solid pickup for trainer Mike Mitchell. He raced for trainer Pete Fahey in Ireland as a three year old and won two of three starts including a stakes race at Dundalk last October. Over the Winter, the Irish bred was sold to Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino who use Mike Mitchell as their trainer. His first start in the US came in March where he ran 2nd in an Allowance Optional Claiming $62,500 at Santa Anita. He came back three weeks later to win a similar race. In May, he ran 3rd in the Cool Frenchy Stakes and June finished 2nd in an Allowance at BetFair Hollywood Park. He finished 2nd yet again in the Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap. All five races have been at six furlongs or shorter. He would win his next three races after a switch to one mile. He won an Allowance Optional Claiming $100,000 at Del Mar, set a new Del Mar track record in winning the Del Mar Handicap (G2) in a final time of 1:32.10 and most recently won the Arroyo Seco Mile Stakes at Santa Anita. Nearly breaking the track record with a final time of 1:31.95. The track record is 1:31.89. He will want the front end. He’s proven he can go gate to wire on fast fractions. Will anyone go with him? Will anyone want to go with him? If he gets any freedom on the front end without a challenge, he might not get caught.
Moonlight Cloud (GB) is the lone filly in this field and looks to bring female power back to this race. The super mare Goldikova won this race for an unprecedented three straight times from 2008-2010. The Freddie Head filly has won 7 of 13 career starts including six Group races over in Europe. In 2012, the four year old by Invincible Spirit (IRE) has won the Prix Maurice de Gheest (Group 1) at Deauville on August 4 and Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamps (Group 1) at Longchamps on September 16. She defeated Farhh by a head in the one mile turf race. She’s also won the Prix du Palais-Royal (Group 3) on June 2 at Longchamps. She was defeated by Excelebration and two others in her 4th place finish in the Prix Jacques Le Marois (Group 1) at Deauville on August 5. However, she did have an awkward break that palced her well behind early. This will be one of her toughest races to date, but the consistency she has possessed throughout her career should prevail and make her a threat to the boys. In 13 lifetime starts, she’s only missed the board twice. Once as a two year old and once last year at three. None this year at four.
Mr. Commons may not have a win since taking the Arcadia Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on February 4, but he’s been in the thick of every race since. His late running style has hindered his success as he’s not been able to make up enough ground to take the win. The John Shirreffs trained four year colt by Artie Schiller has finished 2nd in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (G1), American Handicap (G2) and Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2) all by a combined 1 1/2 lengths. This year, he’s also finished 4th in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1) and 3rd last out in the Arroyo Seco Mile Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. If he can get a combination of quick fractions and Brice Blanc getting him started a little sooner than normal, he might be able to get up for the win.
Jeranimo qualified for the BC Mile with his stellar come from behind win in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at BetFair Hollywood Park on June 30. It was the first Grade 1 win for the six year old son of Congaree. He already had four Grade 2 wins to his credit. The Shoemaker Mile is his only win in 5 starts in 2012, but he’s been close on a couple of other occasions. He finished 2nd in the San Gabriel Stakes (G2) and San Francisco Mile Stakes (G3) at Golden Gate Fields as well as 3rd in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2). Not sure why he’s had the additional time off, but this horse has been consistent in 2012. As the same with Mr. Commons, he will need a combination of speed early on and not be late to make his late charge.
Willcox Inn comes off a strong 2nd to Wise Dan in the Shadwell Turf Mile at odds of 48/1. It was the 3rd start back from an 8th month layoff. The four year old colt by Harlan’s Holiday won the Arlington Classic Stakes and American Derby (G2) at Arlington Park, as well as, the Hawthorne Derby (G3) in 2011 as a three year old. His last race in 2011 was finishing 8th in the Hollywood Derby (G1). He didn’t race again until July this year where he won an Allowance Optional Claiming at Arlington Park. After finishing a disappointing 8th in the Arlington Million, he bounced back with the solid effort in the Shadwell. The Shadwell effort shows he has talent. It seems he has cleared himself from the injury he sustained in 2011. He won’t be at odds of 48/1 in this race, but will still be one of the longest shots due to the depth. He could be a horse to put underneath in exotic wagers.
Suggestive Boy (ARG) is a four-time Grade 1 winner at San Isidro in Argentina, but is struggling to find similar success in Southern California. The four year old colt finished 2nd in his American debut in the Shoemaker Mile on turf. He followed it up with a win in the Wickerr Stakes on turf at Del Mar. Trainer Ron McAnally gave him a shot in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) on the all weather and finished 5th, then ran 5th again in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on dirt. I’m glad the Summer experiment is over. The return to one mile turf should be a welcome one for this horse too. Tough spot, but should give bettors decent odds at an underneath possibly.
Animal Kingdom is the last horse I mention not because we disregard his talent, but he is a big question mark in terms of where he’s at physically and mentally. The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner has raced just once since sustaining an injury in the Belmont Stakes last June. Trainer Graham Motion has needed patience while keeping his colt on the path to regaining form and get him back to the track. His only race in the last 17 months was Allowance Optional Claiming $80,000 win on turf at Gulfstream Park on February 18. That was supposed to be a tune-up race for the Dubai World Cup on March 31, but lingering injuries derailed that opportunity. We know what the now four year old son of Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) WAS capable of doing last year. Can we expect him to return to such a high level with so much time away from racing? In my opinion, a mile is not enough for him to make his run. We will see him make a run late, but I don’t see him getting up to be in the top three. This is a tough field of horses who have been running all year at the highest level going a mile on the turf. This colt will need a race.
I don’t anticipate a ton of speed in here. Obviously (IRE) is the only true speed and he’s proven more than capable to wire the field, even with quick early fractions. He is my pick to win. With the moderate fractions we predict by Obviously early on, expect both Wise Dan and Excelebration (IRE) to sit just behind. I believe it will be a bunched photo finish with these three. Obviously will have enough to hang on for the win, with the other two right there to complete the top three. I don’t see anyone coming from well off to challenge. If your looking for a horse with odds who could sneak on the board and complete an exotic wager, look to Willcox Inn.
Enjoy the race and good luck!