Breeders Cup: A look at the Turf
By The Rex Factor
This shapes up to be the strangest race on the card based upon one “if”. The 3-year-old brilliant Golden Horn (1) has decimated the European competition so badly throughout the campaign that most of the connections decided it would be best to stay at home rather than to fight this monster.
This is important to know because 12 furlongs races on grass are few and far between in the US, whereas they are commonplace across the pond. Golden Horn’s effort earlier this month in France at the Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe was scintillating. He was near the front of a decent pace, then never was seriously challenged from the closers in posting a monster win at 2:27.23 at Longchamp. There will likely be many who ‘single’ the colt in multi-race exotics.
The “if” comes based on the condition of the Keeneland grass on Saturday in the late afternoon. The 3-year old likes firm footing, and trainer John Gosden was lamenting all of the rain that fell in central Kentucky in the middle of the week. That said, he didn’t come to “eat American food” or “take a walk around the paddock”, as he said about Cymric, who did miss in the Juvenile Turf on Friday.
All that said, Conduit was the last favorite to win this race, backing up his 2008 win in 2009. And gate-to-wire winners are not common here, either, with only a 3-for-31 record lifetime, with longshot Little Mike last doing it in 2012. If trends hold true, one thing is a cinch: there will be a Euro in the trifecta – it’s happened 16 straight times. Six of the last eight winners have won at least once at 12 furlongs.
So who can beat Golden Horn?
Start with the filly Found (9), who ran ninth to Golden Horn while throwing in a dud in Paris before running second in a 10-furlong prep for this. The Irish-bred is the only other 3-year old in here, but Aidan O’Brien has won this race a record four times, and she should be primed for her best after receiving Lasix for the first time. She’s been in the exacta in eight of her 10 career starts. Golden Horn only got her by a length in the Irish Champion Stakes.
The US won’t likely come with anyone who can beat those two if they take to the Keeneland surface. Big Blue Kitten (7) rates to have the best shot from the Chad Brown barn. He won the G-I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in New York last month and beat Slumber (4), Twilight Eclipse (6), and Red Rifle (11) – though The Pizza Man (10) got him in a shorter trip in the Arlington Million.
Slumber (4) is the asterisk. He’s British-bred but has been racing over here since 2011 and is a 7-year old horse. He hardly counts as a “Euro” at this point of his career. Anyone else would be a surprise, and light up the toteboard.
Please read our latest article, Breeders’ Cup Preview – Thirteen of the Best Annual Horse Races on the Planet.
What to know: Race 10 on the card; it’s the eighth of the nine Saturday Breeders’ Cup races at Keeneland
Post time: 4:50 p.m. EDT
Purse: $3 million
Distance: 1 1/2 miles
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