The 2012 Breeders Cup Turf is set to run on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 3:18pm PST. A field of 12 will face each other for the 1 1/2 miles event on the turf. This is good mix of European and American talent. Included in the field is last year’s winner of this race, a colt who has won three straight Grade 1 races, the Arlington Million winner, a two-time Group 1 winner this year in Europe and a two-time Grade 1 winner this year here in the US. That’s only five of the horses!
St. Nicholas Abbey is coming off his worst career result when finishing 11th in the Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on October 7 at Longchamps. This coming after three consecutive 3rd place finishes. The reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf Champion lost to Danedream in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, to Frankel in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and Snow Fairy (IRE) in the Irish Champion Stakes. Those are three incredible horses to lose to however I’m sure trainer Aidan O’Brien would like to see his five year old hit the winner’s cirlce more often. He has just one win in seven races since capturing the BC Turf last November at Churchill Downs. That was the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom in June. Despite just two wins in 11 starts, he has been in the top three 10 of those 12 races. In 18 career starts, he’s only been worse than 3rd three times. So he may not get the win often, but he still looms dangerous and a contender in this race.
Point of Entry is currently one of the hottest horses in the country and quite possibly the World with three straight Grade 1 wins. Quite remarkable considering the Claude (Shug) McGaughey trained Dynaformer colt could barely win an Allowance race in 2011. He ended his three year old campaign with a Allowance non winners of two lifetime win at Gulfstream Park on December 26. He started 2012 with a 4th place finish in an Allowance Optional Claiming $62,500 at Gulfstream on February 26. That was his last loss. His impressive winning streak of five races started with an Allowance score at Keeneland on April 12. McGaughey brought him back just 15 days later and he won the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in his first graded stakes attempt. His next race was at Belmont Park on July 1 when he easily defeated a field of 6 others including Treasure Beach (GB) in the Man o’ War Stakes (G1). A month later at Saratoga, he won the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (G1) and on September 29 back at Belmont, he won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (G1). That field included three of the participants in this race. He is the horse to beat at this time.
Shareta (IRE) also comes off a disappointing effort in the Arc where the four year old filly finished 9th. It was her worst career performance too. She went into the Arc winning back to back races in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1) at York in August and Qatar Prix Vermeille (Group 1) at Longchamps in September. In 2012, she hadn’t finished worse than 3rd in five races before the Arc. In defeat this year, she has run against very good horses and placed ahead of them or barely lost such as her 2nd place result in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Group 1) where she finished ahead of Danedream and losing by a nose to Arc winner Solemia in the Prix Corrida (Group 2) at Saint-Cloud. Good to see trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre make the trip with filly. She will give the boys a run for their money.
Dullahan is the only horse this year on US soil to defeat Horse of the Year candidate and Breeders Cup Classic favorite Game on Dude. The Dale Romans trained three year old son of Even the Score won the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 26 with a late charge down the middle of the stretch. An impressive win, but question marks surround this colt as he’s only claimed three wins in 13 starts with all three on the synthetic surface. Last year, he won the Dixiana Breeders Futurity at Keeneland to break his maiden (5th start). This year, in addition to the Pacific Classic, he won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He has yet to win on dirt or turf. The closest he has come to winning on the grass was earlier this year at Gulfstream Park when he finished 2nd to Howe Great in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) on March 11. His last race was a disappointing 5th as the favorite in the Jamaica Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. He never was a factor and didn’t make any type of move. It’s hard to imagine him challenging this field.
Little Mike is the other Dale Romans trained horse in this race and he has won on the turf. He went gate to wire to win the prestigious Arlington Million (G1) at Arlington Park. The five year old gelding has won 11 of 20 career races with five of them in graded company. His latest was a disappointing 5th place finish in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes. He held the early lead and fell back as the race wore on. Not exactly the follow up the connections would have hoped for after taking the Arlington Million. Other wins in 2012 include the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs and Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The only knock against him despite winning 55% of his lifetime races is that he has never won going 1 1/2 miles.
Trailblazer (JPN) was cross entered in the BC Mile and the Turf, but trainer Yasutoshi Ikee chose the long distance route. He made his American debut in the Arroyo Seco Mile Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on October 6 and finished a strong 2nd behind Obviously (IRE). The five year old grandson of Forty Niner won his first graded race last year in the Copa Republica Argentina (G2) in Tokyo last November. He finished 2011 with a strong 4th in the Japan Cup (G1). One of the most prestigious races in Japan and richest races in the World. The purse is approximately 5.8 million US. He kicked off 2012 with a win in the Kyoto Kinen (G2) at Kyoto on February 12. His last race in Japan was 9th in the Meguro Kinen (G2) in May. He missed five months before coming over to Southern California. He has shown the calibre of performances to make us believe he belongs in this race. He has a realistic shot at giving Japan their first ever Breeders Cup victory.
Treasure Beach (GB) is a well-traveled son of the great sire Galileo. The four year old Aidan O’Brien trained colt hasn’t won a race since winning the Secretariat Stakes (G1) for three year olds last year at Arlington Park. Since that race and now, he has racked up quite a few air miles rewards. After the win at Arlington, he shipped to France and ran 14th in the Arc. O’Brien flew him back two weeks later and ran 3rd in the Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine. Rightfully so, he was given some time off. He returned to action in Dubai where he ran 4th in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). A 9th in Queen Elizabeth II CUP (Group 1) at Sha-Tin in Hong Kong was followed up with a 5th in the Man o’War Stakes at Belmont Park, a 4th in the Ballyroan Stakes (Group 3) at Leopardstown back in Europe and 6th in the Arlington Million. His most recent race was runner-up in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic International at Belmont Park. That is alot of traveling and wear and tear on a horse considering the talent that he has gone up against each race. The 2nd place result in the Joe Hirsch proves he still has some left in the tank, but enough to take on the deep field ion this race?
Slim Shadey (GB) ran a big race on September 30 to win the John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. The four year old Simon Callaghan trained gelding took a commanding 8 lengths lead on the backstretch and held on to win by 2 1/4 lengths. The son of Val Royal (FR) has had a decent year so far winning the San Marcos Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on February 11 and runner-up efforts in the San Luis Rey Stakes (G2), Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs and Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (G1) at BetFair Hollywood Park. He had a couple of 5th place performances in the United Nations Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park and Eddie Read Stakes (G1) at Del Mar before getting back to the win column in the John Henry. If Callaghan tries the same tactic as last race, he will find himself in a battle with Little Mike. Not exactly what you want considering the 1 1/2 miles distance. This horse has been able to rate before, but it has resulted in wins. He has finished in the money though.
Turbo Compressor has been hit or miss this year for trainer Todd Pletcher. He’s won three times including two stakes; Colonial Turf Cup Stakes at Colonial Downs on June 16 and the United Nations Cup (G1) at Monmouth Park. In other races though, he has finished 8th in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs and 9th in the Sword Dancer Invitational. In the Sword, he went to the lead, then abruptly stopped and finished last. It wasn’t anything serious as he shipped out West and ran 2nd in the John Henry Turf. Slim Shadey had to much ground on the field and he ran out of time to catch him. The good thing about this horse is that he can run on the lead or sit back and wait. With a possible duel on the front end, expect to see him sit off the lead and make a run as they round the far turn.
Kindergarden Kid finally notched his first win of 2012 on October 18 at Keeneland in the Sycamore Stakes (G3). His last win took place on November 19, 2011 in the Pay The Butler Stakes at Aqueduct. A span of eight races without a win. Despite not winning, the Dynaformer five year old owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Michael Maker has been in the money seven of nine races. This will be his toughest race to date and would need to bring his best career effort to try and reach the board. Between the Joe Hirsch and the Sycamore it does show he can perform at the 1 1/2 miles distance. There are some in here who are not able to say that.
Cogito is a three year old colt by Giant’s Causeway but trained by Brian Meehan and running in Europe. After winning his first two races, he finished 8th in the St. James Palace Stakes (Group 1) at Royal Ascot in June. He came back strong to finish 2nd to the French bred colt Bayrir (FR) in the Prix Eugene Adam (Group 2) at Maisons-laffitte in July. Bayrir (FR) also won the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park in August. Cogito’s last race was 4th in the Jamaica Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. There are some strong efforts that he has displayed in his first full year, but it’s not enough to make us think he can compete against this group.
Optimizer has consistently been running in turf races after unsuccessful tries on dirt in the Derby prep races and throughout the entire triple crown. He is the only horse to run in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. On July 21, trainer D. Wayne Lukas finally returned the three year old English Channel colt to turf and ran 4th in the Virginia Derby (G2) at Colonial Downs. At Saratoga in August, he ran 5th in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2). It seems he has found a groove lately taking an Allowance Optional Claiming $35,000 at Saratoga, then winning the Kent Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park. It’s good to see him running well again, but this field is far superior to those he defeated. A Grade 3 win doesn’t compute to success against multiple Grade and Group 1 winners that this field possesses.
Speed has always done well on the Santa Anita turf. It’s not as soft as east coast turf or those on the European circuits. I believe Little Mike will get the lead with Slim Shadey (GB) sitting just behind him. They will set decent fractions but not enough to “fully” tire them. I believe they will hang around long enough to stay on the board or very close to it. Point of Entry has been nothing short of phenomenal since April. He will sit a couple of lengths behind the leader and track them down as they turn for home. He will get up for his 6th consecutive win. It will be a battle for 2nd through 5th between Little Mike, Slim Shadey (GB), Shareta (IRE) and Trailblazer (JPN). I don’t believe St. Nicholas Abbey will be there this time around.
Enjoy the race and good luck!