I’ll say this to start off – I love Breeders’ Cup pre-entry reveal day. It’s the beginning of joyous chaos. It’s our first structured look at the fields for the richest two days in American racing. I remember feverishly writing Myspace blog posts about the Breeders’ Cup pre-entries when I was 11 or 12. Now I’m nearly 20 years old, and still I find myself as overjoyed and overwhelmed as a small child the night before Christmas. I tell ya, this sport…
Today I asked this question:
Twitter question: After seeing all the pre-entry fields this morning, which Breeders’ Cup race are you most excited for and why?
— Emily White (@racehorsewriter) October 22, 2014
…and the responses began to pour in. By organizing the following tweets by race, let’s take a look at some of the buzz events for this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
— nicolle (@rogueclown) October 22, 2014
This race features Angela Renee, an East Coast gal who came West to conquer the Chandelier Stakes, as well as Frizette winner By the Moon and Pocahontas winner Cristina’s Journey. Also a part of the field are stakes winners Wonder Gal and Cavorting, each coming in from the East Coast as well. And as stated above, a daughter of Curlin named Danette will be competing in this year’s Juvenile Fillies after finishing third in the Chandelier. My dear friend Nicolle loves her (hashtag) Curlin babies!
FILLY & MARE SPRINT
Midnight Lucky ran her eyeballs out in May in the Humana Distaff, pulling away to win with ease in the end. It won’t be as easy for her here. She faces a duo of strong young contenders vying for the top spot in this division occupied by the formidable Groupie Doll for so long: Artemis Agrotera and Sweet Reason. Don’t count out the hard-knocking Judy the Beauty, who ran second in this race last year. Also, Leigh Court, Southern Honey, and Stonetastic came home 1-2-3 in the TCA Stakes at Keeneland – and the last five winners of the Filly & Mare Sprint finished in the TCA trifecta before scoring at the Breeders’ Cup. But if Baffert can have the talented Midnight Lucky ready for the challenge off a layoff, as he has already done with horses like Midnight Lute and Secret Circle, she’ll be a top contender for sure.
FILLY & MARE TURF
Here’s a race that features its defending champion, Dank. Though winless this year, Dank was superb in winning the 2013 edition and, should she repeat that performance, she would be very hard to beat. She’ll face our American female turf division, a group of fillies constantly bonking heads – Stephanie’s Kitten, Emollient, Dayatthespa, and so on and so forth. Foreign invaders include Just The Judge, winner of last weekend’s E.P. Taylor, Fiesolana, Tarfasha, etc. It’s a talented group of fillies and mares that Dank has the talent to rule over. Can she repeat?
Before a shocking defeat in the Spinster, Close Hatches was the clear-cut leader of the female division in America. With that off-the-board effort, and defending champion Beholder’s defection from the race, that leaves this year’s Distaff a little bit more wide-open. If Close Hatches is back to her best – she finished second in this race last year – it’s hers for the taking. But she’ll have to get past the compelling Untapable, who sits firmly atop the sophomore filly division, and the speedy Belle Gallantey, who’s bagged two G1 races this year. Iotapa represents the West Coast here, and Don’t Tell Sophia was the winner of the Spinster that Close Hatches lost. Newcomers L’Amour De Ma Vie and Valiant Emilia add some spice to the race. Unlike what was thought a few months ago, this is clearly more than a one-horse affair.
Here’s a race featuring another defending champ in Magician. The Ballydoyle invader ran down several highly-regarded horses to take last year’s event. Other European horses to tackle the Turf this year are Brown Panther, scratched from the Canadian International last weekend after bolting and dumping his jockey, Flintshire, Telescope, and the filly Chiquita. Heading the American candidates is Main Sequence, who’s bagged three Grade 1 races in a row now. Turf mainstays Twilight Eclipse and Big Blue Kitten are pre-entered, as is California closer Big John B and the Arlington Million upset victor Hardest Core. The Euros look to have the upper hand here, but can Main Sequence get his fourth Grade 1?
Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan “the Man” will not be taking part in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. Across-the-pond Grade 1 winner Toronado looms large here. Anodin is a full-brother to three-time Mile winner Goldikova. California speedball Obviously will attempt to finally bag a Mile victory for himself. Woodbine Mile winner Trade Storm looks for a Grade 1 double. Kaigun, Grand Arch, and Seek Again look for Grade 1 glory after all finishing behind the chestnut power of Wise Dan. Tom’s Tribute, a winning machine this year, will tackle the big guns. It’s a compelling race that plays a perfect pre-cursor to the Classic – even without Wise Dan.
Though a Juvenile winner hasn’t gone on to Kentucky Derby glory since Street Sense in 2007 – and he’s the only one in history to do so – many consider this race to be an early look at Triple Crown contenders. If they stay in training long enough to get there, that is! This year’s edition seems a little more compelling than most. It has a distinct East vs. West feel to it – American Pharoah is the titan of the West, while Daredevil and Carpe Diem impressed in the East. Apart from the big three, other big names in the race include stakes winners Lucky Player, Souper Colossal, and Mr. Z. Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien sends The Great War from across the pond to tackle the big guns on dirt. This group of classy colts and geldings will certainly put on a show on Breeders’ Cup Saturday.
The $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Money, prestige, awards, titles all on the line here. In a race usually ruled by the older horses – no 3-year-old has won since 2008 – the sophomores dominate here. A powerful quartet of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, undefeated Shared Belief, speedy Bayern, and dual Grade 1 winner Tonalist headline this field. Older horses Moreno, Zivo, Majestic Harbor, Prayer for Relief, and company will need to take a step up to challenge these talented 3-year-olds. Other sophomores include Travers winner V.E. Day, Toast of New York, and Candy Boy. How excited am I for the Breeders’ Cup Classic? Words cannot explain.
More than one race?
If I’m honest, I’m more like the above…I simply cannot choose one race to favor over the others! But I think this tweet from Andrew Barker sums up Breeders’ Cup excitement best: