What Simon Clare has learned in the build-up to Breeders’ Cup 2016
California Chrome “the biggest star in town”
The Breeders’ Cup was heating up both literally and metaphorically today, as temperatures soared at Santa Anita into the 80s and the final preparations took place for the two-day horse racing extravaganza.
A big crowd attended the track this morning to watch some of the best horses in the world work gently ahead of Friday and Saturday’s thirteen races, and there was whooping and hollering aplenty when California Chrome trotted past the stands on his way back to the stables.
There is a strong cast list at Santa Anita this weekend; Songbird, Found, Tepin, Beholder, Limato and Dortmund are big name racehorses on show; but there is absolutely no question who is the biggest star in town, and it’s California Chrome.
But, whilst everything has gone well for the World’s top-rated horse as he prepares for his Classic test, there was disappointment for the connections of David O’Meara trained Suedois, as he pulled up with an injury during his final piece of work this morning.
Whilst it was relief to hear that the injury is not serious and the horse will be back next season, it is a long way to come for a last-minute withdrawal. Just ask Hugo Palmer, who experienced something similar with Aktabantay two years’ ago.
Will Santa Anita be Home Of The Brave for Palmer?
Still, Palmer is back for more this year with Home Of The Brave, who is a live outsider for the Turf Sprint on Saturday.
Hugo has cut a nervous figure over the last few days as he oversees the last pieces of work for his Godolphin owned colt.
He looked in great order as he flew down the hill and into the straight today when the track allowed him a trial run on the downhill turf sprint course. James Doyle was all smiles afterwards, so don’t be surprised to see this horse run a big race.
No other horse racing event I’ve ever been to gives you the access and insight that you get at the Breeders’ Cup, with all the horses and connections required to be on-site in the days leading up to the race meeting.
It’s a real privilege to be able to get so close to these equine stars, not to mention their riders and trainers, and clearly it is also hugely beneficial to the promotion of the event.
So that’s all well and good, but what have we actually learned over the last four mornings watching work and wandering the barn complex? Well, here are a few nuggets…
Masochistic and American Gal the best Breeders’ Cup bets?
Channel 4 Racing’s Graham Cunningham grabbed a few minutes one to one with Mike Smith for SportingLife.com and, after chatting Songbird and Arrogate, Smith revealed his two next best rides of the meeting.
He thinks Masochistic has a great chance in the Sprint, but also said he was excited by the ride he’s picked up on Bob Baffert’s American Gal in the Juvenile Fillies.
Local media like the chances of Lady Eli for Filly & Mare Turf
Steve Anderson is the Daily Racing Form’s South California reporter, so this is his home turf and he’s always worth paying attention to.
He too likes American Gal, but the filly he is sweetest on at the meeting is Lady Eli, who is bidding to be the comeback Queen in the Filly & Mare Turf . Steve revealed that Chad Brown has been quietly telling anyone that will listen that Lady Eli will win.
Nuevo Record looking to go under the radar
The Japanese connections of Nuevo Record have been quietly going about their business all week, with minimal attention being paid to them despite them sporting pretty garish pink outfits.
Yet she has looked absolutely fantastic each morning and has the form in the book to run a big race in the Filly and Mare Turf.
All-conquering O’Brien keeps faith in Washington Dc
Aidan O’Brien is double loaded with leading chances in nearly all the Turf races at the meeting, yet when we interviewed him earlier in the week the horse he said he was most looking forward to was Washington Dc, his sole entry in the Turf Sprint.
Washington Dc takes on a deep field, over a crazy, twisting downhill sprint track, but he brings top class Group One form from England and France to the race and O’Brien couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for this horse’s chance.
Limato looks a worthy market principal in Breeders’ Cup Mile
Limato has looked and acted like a horse on really good terms with himself and sitting on a big effort.
— Simon Clare (@SiClare) November 3, 2016
As he cantered down the straight yesterday, he gave some almighty kicks and bucks that Amy Scott miraculously managed to deal with, and is clearly feeling absolutely full of himself.
Harry Bentley rode him this morning and when I spoke to him afterwards he seemed quietly but indisputably confident about his horse.
Baffert seeks to size his Hoppertunity in Breeders’ Cup Classic
Local work-watchers passed on the invaluable insight that Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity has been working better than he’s worked all year as the Baffert second string preps for Saturday’s Classic.
He could be the best long shot in the field based on his Jockey Club Gold Cup win and placed form behind California Chrome in Dubai.
So that’s it. A few backstretch nuggets passed on as the hours count down to the first Breeders’ Cup race, the Juvenile Turf at 9.25pm UK time on Friday night.
I will be giving my thoughts on each and every race over the next few days, as well as sourcing the video tips of fellow Breeders’ Cup veteran, Graham Cunningham. After all, we have to try and prove that we’re not just over here for the sunshine and the beer.
Don’t forget, you can place all of your 2016 Breeders’ Cup bets with us at Coral!