By Anthony Stabile
$3 million; 1 ½ miles (T); 3up
This event has provided us with some watershed moments in both Breeders’ Cup history in the sport itself, starting with Theatrical’s win in 1987 which helped forge the Bill Mott/Allen Paulson partnership that would rule racing for a decade. Kotashaan capped an amazing Horse of the Year season with a win in 1993. High Chaparral won it in 2002, then dead-heated with Johar in 2003, the only dead heat for win in Breeders’ Cup history.
Favorites haven’t fared well, historically, winning just nine of the previous 30 runnings while foreign based horses hold a 19 to 12 edge which includes the two winners from that 2003 dead heat.
In 2011, Aidan O’Brien trained St. Nicholas Abbey to win with his son Joe in the saddle. The pair were ready to do so again before O’Brien declared Magician, last years’ Turf winner, from the race just three days before the race on Wednesday, October 29th.
Ryan Moore rode Magician to victory last year but will pilot Telescope for Sir Michael Stoute in this renewal, a race Stoute has targeted for this colt for most of the year. Third last out in the G1 Juddmonte International behind the accomplished Australia, Telescope was second in the G1 King George & Queen Elizabeth and galloped home in the G2 Hardwicke in his two prior starts.
Flintshire is winless in his last six starts after winning three of his first four races but has kept solid company in defeat this season. He started the year for the great Andre Fabre with a second place effort in the G1 Coronation Cup behind Cirrus des Aigles and was a strong second when beaten just a couple of lengths by Treve in the G1 Arc de Triomphe in his latest.
Former Euro Main Sequence is a perfect three for three in his U.S. starts and in giving his backers near heart attacks since arriving stateside for a Graham Motion. First, he came from dead last to win the G1 United Nations at Monmouth by a neck. A head victory in the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga with another big rally from far back followed. Then, last out in the G1 Turf Classic at Belmont, main Sequence laid a bit closer to a much slower early pace and eventually grinded out a neck victory. He gets a new rider in John Velazquez as regular rider Rajiv Maragh is out with a broken arm.
Former claimer Big John B has really made himself at home since arriving in California from the east coast this past summer. He won three straight for Phil D’Amato, including the G2 Del Mar Handicap before finishing third in the 1 ¼ miles G2 John Henry when he ran out of ground. He’s won his lone start at this distance.
Arlington Million winner Hardest Core is a perfect three for three since being purchased by trainer Ed Graham. An allowance win and minor stakes score at Parx and Delaware preceded his stretch running upset of Magician last out in the Million. It’s worth noting that the minor stakes score came at this distance.
Imagining won the G1 Man O’ War for Shug McGaughey in gate-to-wire fashion back in May but tired in both the G1 Sword dancer when second by a head and last out when he settled for third after setting slow fractions in the Turf Classic.
Twilight Eclipse broke the world record for this distance on turf in the 2013 Pan American at Gulfstream Park and won the G2 Mac Diarmada earlier this season. He’s finished second, third and second behind Main Sequence in his last three starts and had a brutal trip in this for Tom Albertrani last season when he finished sixth beaten just over two lengths.
Chicquita will look to join the likes of Pebbles and Miss Alleged, the only two fillies to win the Turf, in 1985 and 1991, respectively, for O’Brien. Third in the British Champions against her own sex, run just two weeks prior to this event, Chicquita was far back in the Arc and is just one for seven in her career having taken the G1 Irish Oaks at this trip in July 2013. Fellow Euro Brown Panther cuts back in distance for Tom Dascombe having won the G1 Irish St Leger going 1 ¾ miles by over six lengths last out.
New York bred Hangover Kid won an open company stakes for the first time two starts back when he got up late in the G2 Bowling Green for Jason Servis. He was a non-threatening fifth in the Turf Classic last out. Finnegans Wake closed from far back to get the place money in the John henry in his first start for Peter Miller. He won the G3 Arlington Handicap earlier this year but has just three wins from 23 starts in his career. Starspangled Heat was third in a restricted stakes this past Saturday, hasn’t won in seven starts since an optional claimer win in October 2013 and will be making his first start at this level for trainer Barry Abrams.