The Mile will once again draw three-peat champion Goldikova, Gio Ponti and several other Graded and Group winners from North America and Europe. It’s too bad that arguably the best horse in the World in Frankel is not going to make the trip. It brings up the conversation again, should the Breeders Cup, especially turf races, go back and forth each year between the US and Europe, so many of the top horses in Europe and around the World will participate?
Churchill Downs – TVG Breeders Cup Mile (G1) – 1 mile – Turf – $2,000,000
Date: November 5, 2011
Estimated Post Time: 6:07pm EST
1. Goldikova (Ire) – Olivier Peslier – 7/5
2. Zoffany (Ire) – Ryan Moore – 20/1
3. Courageous Cat – Patrick Valenzuela – 8/1
4. Mr. Commons – Mike Smith – 20/1
5. Gio Ponti – Ramon Dominguez – 4/1
6. Get Stormy – Garrett Gomez – 15/1
7. Jeranimo – Martin Garcia – 20/1
8. Byword (GB) – Maxime Guyon – 12/1
9. Court Vision – Robby Albarado – 30/1
10. Sidney’s Candy – John Velazquez – 15/1
11. Strong Suit – Richard Hughes 10/1
12. Compliance Officer – Alex Solis – 30/1
13. Turallure – Julien Leparoux – 8/1
Goldikova (IRE)- Trainer Frederic Head
There is not much to say other than the fact that this six year old mare will go down as one of the best (male or female) horses of all time. She has won 17 of 26 career races, with 12 of them coming in Group 1 or Grade 1 stakes races. She is a 3 time winner (in a row) of the Breeders Cup Mile, and is going for an unprecedented fourth this year. She has had winning streaks of 4, 3, 4 and 3 in her career. She has consistently run against the best milers each and every time. This year, it looks like age is catching up to her slightly. She has been defeated three times already, first time in her career. In 2010, she only lost once, in 2009 just twice and 2008 twice. If anyone is going to beat her in the BC Mile it is going to be this year. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. She is the champ until someones dethrones her. Even in her losses, she still finished 2nd each time and only by a head, neck and neck respectively. To beat her, you have to run the best race of your career. Just ask Dream Ahead, Immortal Verse and Canford Cliffs.
2011 Record: 5 Starts 2-3-0 (She won the Group 1 Qatar Prix De La Foret and Group 1 Prix D’Ispahan at Longchamps).
Gio Ponti (KY) – Trainer Christophe Clement
Very similar situations between this Goldikova and Gio Ponti. They are both multiple Grade 1 stake winners and champions in their own right. However, 2011 has been somewhat of a step down for both. More so for Gio Ponti. He has won 12 of 28 career starts and been no worse than second in 22 of those 28 starts. Of the 12 wins, 10 have been graded (seven Grade 1). He even had a string of four Grade 1 wins in 2009 that included three different tracks from one side of the country to the other (Belmont Park, Santa Anita and Arlington). He has been one of the best older male horses in the US for a few years now. However, in 2011, age seems to be playing a factor. He went an entire year without winning a race. He won the Shadwell Turf Mile last year and then again this year. It’s not like he ran poorly in the five races in between, but we are used to seeing this horse win more often than not. After last year’s Shadwell, he lost to Goldikova in the BC Mile. He took four months off before shipping to Dubai and finishing 5th in the G1 Dubai World Cup. He took another three months off then ran 3rd in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap, and a pair of runner up performances to Cape Blanco (IRE) in the G1 Man O’War Stakes and Arlington Million. Is he still capable of winning the Mile? Yes. However, if there was ever a year for someone to capture this race, this would be the year as he and Goldikova have lost a step.
2011 Record: 5 Starts 1-2-1 (Won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland).
Turallure (KY) – Trainer Charles Lopresti
You’ve heard the saying, this is maturing into a great horse. You can say that about this gray four year old colt. As a three year old, it took him months to start showing his potential. He didn’t break his maiden until 6th try at Ellis Park. Not exactly the breeding grounds for a graded stakes winner. However, he ended 2010 winning three of his last four races, that also included a three race winning streak (Cliff Guilliams Handicap at Ellis Park and a winners Allowance at Keeneland). His last was a 3rd in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs. It showed he can be a graded stakes performer. After a 5 month absence, he ran in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes and finished back in 8th. A month later, he finished 2nd in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Churchill Downs. It seemed as if this colt was regressing instead of progressing. So at least we thought. 6 weeks later, he wins the Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill Downs. He can’t win an Allowance Optional Claiming, but he can win a stakes race?! Odd. Could he turn things around? Yes. He finished 5th in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap, then moves ahead and wins back to back graded stakes races; the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga and Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes at Woodbine. It’s been a roller coaster ride in 2011, but this colt seems to have turned the corner and can be a force if he runs the same was he has over the last few weeks.
2011 Record: 6 Starts 3-1-0 (He won the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga on August 26 and Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes at Woodbine on September 18).
Courageous Cat (KY) – Trainer William Mott
A late blooming four year from the Bill Mott stables has been a consistent performer for a couple of years now. Combine the late bloom with a couple of injuries and this five year old Storm Cat horse has only raced 14 times in his career. Despite this, he has performed admirably well and finds himself as one of the best milers in the US. He finished second, losing only a 1/2 length to Goldkiva in the 2009 BC Mile. He actually had a 1 1/2 lengths lead down the stretch before being caught by the great mare. He won the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park early in 2010 and was soon after shipped to Dubai where he ran 8th in the 2010 G1 Dubai Duty Free at Meydan. He did not run again until the Shadwell Turf Mile due to injury. He finished 3rd despite the layoff. Unfortunately, he would get hurt again. Another 8 months later, we saw him in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park. He won. He would win again less than a month later when Mott flew him to Hollywood Park for the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile Stakes. His last race was a narrow neck loss to Turallure in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile. He is fresh, he competes and this could be perfect timing for him to run big and take the BC Mile.
2011 Record: 3 Starts 2-1-0 (He won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile Stakes and Grade 3 Poker Stakes).
Byword (PA) – Trainer Andrew Fabre
This five year old hasn’t raced much in 2011, but is certainly making up for lost time. It was unexpected as he was not pre-entered last week. Last year, he lost to Goldikova by 1/2 length in the Group 1 Prix D’Ispahan at Longchamps. Then defeated Twice Over in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot. He missed over seven months (Sept 2010) before finishing 2nd in the Group 2 Prix Du Muguet at Saint Cloud on May 1. He came back and finished 5th to Goldikova and company in the Group 1 Prix D’Ispahan on May 22. He did win the one mile Group 3 Prix Du Chemin De Fer Du Nord at Chantilly on June 12, then came back to defeat eventual Group 1 Champions Stakes winner Cirrus des Aigles in the Group 2 Qatar Prix Dollar at Longchamps on October 1. This is a solid horse, but hasn’t been able to beat Goldikova in his career (not many have). Still expect a big run out of him.
2011 Record: 4 Starts 2-1-0 (Won the Group 2 Qatar Prix Dollar at Longchamps and Group 3 Prix Du Chemin De Fer Du Nord at Chantilly).
Get Stormy (KY) – Trainer Thomas Bush
Last year, Get Stormy hhad a good year after winning both the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap and Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga. He didn’t finish the season strong as he ended up 11th in the Breeders Cup Mile. This year, has been a very good year. A step up from last year. It didn’t get off to a good start with an 8th place finish in the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He rebounded quite well with a 3rd next out in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. That seemed to give him confidence as he toook the next two Grade 1 races he ran in, the Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes at Keeneland and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs. He was challenged quite well on the front end during the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes but still hung on for 3rd. His last two were very solid 2nd place efforts and shows he belongs in the BC Mile. First it was the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga and most recent was the Shadwell Turf Mile where he lost by 1/2 length to Gio Ponti. He has proven he can last even despite fast fractions. We will have a better idea of what speed should be expected when final entries are tallied.
2011 Record: 7 Starts 2-2-2 (Won the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes at Keeneland on April 15 and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 7).
Sidney’s Candy (KY) – Trainer Todd Pletcher
This chestnut colt has won graded stakes races on the dirt as well as the turf. Last year, he won three straight stakes races that made him a favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. He won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes, Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Everything looked great heading to Churchill Downs, but a sloppy track and serious fast fractions did him in. He finished 17th. He would race one more time on thee dirt last year and that ended up being a 2nd in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park. His first turf encounter would be the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap. Let’s just say he liked the green stuff he was running on that day. He went gate to wire and won by 5 1/2 lengths. He then entered in the BC Mile, of course went to the lead, didn’t post fast fractions, but still fell back to 6th. He only lost to Goldikova and Gio Ponti by 2 1/4 lengths. He ended the year back in Southern California with a 7 1/2 length win in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita. This year, he has only raced five times and in the middle of the season switched from the John Sadler barn to Todd Pletcher’s. He’s had two 2nd’s, an 8th and his lone win came in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap. His last race, he once again went to the lead, posted decent fractions and held on longer than expected. He finished 3rd behind Gio and Get Stormy. For Sidney to win this race, he will need to get on a comfortable lead. I just don’t see it happening, plus this year’s field looks to be even stronger than it was last year.
2011 Record: 3 Starts 2-0-0 (He won the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on July 31).
Jeranimo (FL) – Trainer Michael Pender
Was 0 for 5 in stakes races this year in graded stakes races until last time out when he won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile Stakes at Santa Anita. He hasn’t run poor though, being in the top 4 in five other races.
2011 Record: 7 Starts 1-1-2 (He won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile Stakes at Santa Anita on October 8).
Mr. Commons (KY) – Trainer John Shirreffs
A shown the ability to run in graded stakes company all year, despite the fact that he hasn’t won one yet. He finished 3rd in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, 8th in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes before converting to turf winning the one mile non-graded Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar. His last two were back to back 2nd place efforts in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Handicap (lost a nose to Caracortado) and Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile Stakes (lost 3/4 length to Jeranimo).
2011 Record: 7 Starts 3-2-1 (He won the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on July 20).
Zoffany (IRE) – Trainer Aidan O’Brien
This colt got off to a fantastic start in his career as a two year old, winning five of his first six races including the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at Curragh. He hasn’t been able to repeat that winning success of 2010, but has some great results against stiff competition as a three year old. He finished as the runner-up to horses such as Bewitched in the Group 3 Ballycorus Stakes, Mutual Trust in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat and most notably Frankel in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes (British Champions’ Series). He only lost 3/4 length to arguably the best miler and horse in the World. The problem is, he hasn’t been able to perform to that level since. He finished 12th in the Group 1 Prix Maurice De Gheest – Goldikova at Deauville, and 8th and last in his only appearance in the US in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile (Gio Ponti). These last two races certainly don’t give anyone confidence that he is ready to challenge in the BC Mile, but if he can somehow get back to the performances from earlier in the Summer, he could be a factor.
2011 Record: 5 Starts 0-3-0
Strong Suit (AR) – Trainer Richard Hannon
This three year old chestnut colt could make the trip across the pond. He is coming off back to back Group Stakes wins. In his brief career, he has faced Frankel (6th), Dream Ahead (2nd) and Zoffany (3rd). It would not be unfamiliar territory to race against great horses like Goldikova and Gio Ponti.
Compliance Officer (NY) – Trainer Bruce Brown
Spent all of last year in the Allowance ranks, winning just one of seven starts. 2011 has been a much better year, as he has won 5 of 6 starts (five in a row) while winning two stakes in the process. Even with the recent success asking this horse to step up and face the best mile horses in the country and World is a huge task. Pass.
2011 Record: 6 Starts 5-0-0 (Won the Ashley T. Cole Stakes and Bluegrass Cat Mohawk Stakes both at Belmont Park).