A Guide To All Nine Grade 1 Contests At The Breeders’ Cup

This is a race that can throw up a big price winner and this year’s renewal looks wide open, writes Gavin Beech.

A Guide To All Nine Grade 1 Contests At The Breeders’ Cup

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (5.02pm)

This seven-furlong contest has so far eluded US Hall Of Fame trainer Bob Baffert but Gamine might just rectify that particular stat. Gamine’s stamina didn’t last out in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs but her seven-length romp in the Test Stakes at Saratoga marks her down as an ideal candidate for this race, especially as that form has been boosted by the subsequent Grade 2 victory of runner-up Venetian Harbor.

Gamine has twice failed drug tests this year but her trainer will be hoping that she can hit the headlines for the right reasons on Saturday. Stall 2 looks ideal for a front-runner and three-year-olds have won the last two editions of this contest, so everything looks in place for a bold show from the Baffert runner.

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (5.39pm)

Of the British raiders, Glass Slippers has fared a good deal better than Equilateral on the draw front but there has to be a major doubt about whether Kevin Ryan’s star sprinter has the pace to be able to lay up with the US speedsters in the early stages of the race.

Grade 1-winning form is thin on the ground but Oleksandra is an exception to that having flown home from the back of the field in the Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park in June. She was off the track for a while after that but multiple recent workouts suggest she is back on track and primed to extend the strong recent record of fillies and mares in the race, including last year’s winner Belvoir Bay.

Having plundered the last three editions, it would be an oversight not to mention Peter Miller’s runners, Bulletproof One and Texas Wedge, although double-figure stalls won’t help their chances.

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (6.18pm)

Barring a couple of odds-on winners in 2014 and 2015, this is a race that can throw up a big price winner and this year’s renewal looks wide open.

Recent Keeneland winner Knicks Go has the speed figures to go close but at bigger odds it could pay to side with Art Collector who may well find the return to a mile in his favour after failing to see out the longer trip in the Preakness Stakes last month. He thrashed Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver at this track in the summer and stall 1 should enable him to lay up handy early on.

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (6.57pm)

Three of the last four editions of this race have gone to a British-trained runner and there is once again a strong representation of British challengers, including a first Breeders’ Cup runner for James Fanshawe, although Audarya needs to prove that she can reproduce her Prix de l’Opera form on quicker ground.

Preference has to be for Peaceful who looks overpriced at around 8/1. The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly got stuck in the mud at Newmarket when last seen, trailing in last in the Sun Chariot Stakes, but she’s a Classic-winning filly on a decent surface and she’s been handed a terrific gate position in stall 3.

There is no shortage of dangerous home challengers, including Sistercharlie who was turned over as an odds-on favourite in this race 12 months ago. Her form this year isn’t as strong as it was coming into the race in 2019, but she’s been kept fresh for the race this time around so a big run could be on the cards.


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Breeders’ Cup Sprint (7.36)

This looks one of the toughest punting races of the night. Steve Asmussen, who won the race with 7/4 favourite Mitole 12 months ago, has dominated the sprint division in America this year but his unbeaten three-year-old Yaupon looks well worth taking on here at the prices given it wasn’t a strong field he beat in the Chick Lang at Pimlico and he’s into Grade 1 company for the first time. Gate 10 could also pose problems.

The value could lie with Asmussen’s other runner, Echo Town, another three-year-old, but this one is already a Grade 1 winner. He hasn’t produced his best in Grade 2’s the last twice but the blinkers go on today and his recent workouts have been extremely encouraging. Nicely drawn on the inside, he looks outstanding value at around 20/1.

Breeders’ Cup Mile (8.15pm)

It will be the shock of the night should this not go to one of the British raiders, and top of the list has to be 2,000 Guineas winner Kameko who is racing for the final time in his career.

A two-turn mile on a sound surface look tailor-made for Kameko, a strong traveller who should be able to get a good early position from gate 2, so it would be disappointing were he not able to go close at the very least. Surprisingly, his Group 2 Joel Stakes success last time was a career-best on the figures and he’s been kept for this since, so everything looks in place.

I would be worried about Circus Maximus who had a hard race on the gluepot ground at Ascot and the biggest danger could come from fellow Guineas winner Siskin who is another that could relish these conditions.

Breeders’ Cup Distaff (8.54pm)

No favourite has won this since 2014 but plenty will want to be with 6/4 market leader Monomy Girl who is bidding to become the fourth mare to win the race more than once since its inauguration in 1984.

She comes here in great shape having won a Grade 1 at Churchill Downs with something to spare in September but this looks a much contest race and she could have been drawn better than out in gate 10.

Swiss Skyediver beat the boys in the Preakness Stakes last time and looks another rock-solid contender but the one that appeals at bigger prices is Valiance who posted a monster speed figure when winning the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes over the Distaff course and distance last month and she looks a filly on a steep upward curve.

Breeders’ Cup Turf (9.33pm)

Aidan O’Brien has a good record in this race and he holds a strong hand with Magical and Mogul, who bring completely different profiles to the table. Ryan Moore has plumped for Magical who was second behind Enable in this race in 2018 and the superstar mare looks much more likely to get a good trip than her stablemate who has caught gate 10.

However, the one that can beat them both is fast-improving Aga Khan-owned filly Tarnawa who may well have won the Arc given the performance she posted in running down Alpine Star in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp. We know she’ll be fine on this better ground, she’s a strong traveller with a stunning turn of foot and Dermot Weld’s runner is a huge danger to all.

Breeders’ Cup Classic (10.18pm)

Three-time Breeders’ Cup Classic-winning trainer Bob Baffert appears to have all angles covered with Improbable, Authentic and Maximum Security who are all prominent in the market.

Improbable has been making hay at the top level this year and posted his most impressive performance so far when running away with the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita in September.

However, better values lies with stablemate Authentic who showed just how tough he is when holding off Tiz The Law in the Kentucky Derby. The three-year-old posted just as good an effort on the numbers when beaten a neck by Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness, where he pulled almost ten lengths clear of the remainder, and he might still be capable of better after just six career starts. He looks a rock-solid each-way contender.