Vorda can silence stamina doubts
Man On The Spot previews the five Breeders' Cup races that kick the meeting off on Friday night.
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Punters are plunged straight into the deep-end with a real puzzle to kick-start proceedings. London Bridge is the sole European raider and Jo Hughes' charge will certainly stay the trip, but whether the winning handicapper is good enough on this surface is another matter. Cease was nowhere good enough in this in 2011 and Commander was well beaten in last year's renewal won by a South American import. Argentina is represented this year by Ever Rider, but the merit of his winning form is hard to assess. Blueskiesnrainbows won over 1m2f last month while Worldly and Indian Jones have also been running well over shorter trips. The latter finished ahead of Suns Out Guns Out and POOL PLAY over a mile last time, but Mark Casse's veteran has winning form over 1m5f in Canada and may well reverse running today asked to draw on his proven stamina once again.
European raiders have won four of the six renewals with Aidan O'Brien training the last two winners. Giovanni Boldini may have only won a Listed contest at Dundalk last time but did so in good style, while stablemate Wilshire Boulevard finished a creditable fourth in a Group One at Longchamp and is not out of this. Outstrip and Shamshon have a bit of improving to do to match the Ballydoyle duo with the latter unlucky to be drawn out wide. Naming his horse in tribute to the late, great trainer Bobby Frankel, didn't turn out too badly for Khalid Abdullah and leading American owner Ken Ramsey has followed suit. BOBBY'S KITTEN landed a Grade 3 on the Turf at Belmont in convincing fashion and Chad Brown's colt will take some pegging back in this if allowed to set his own pace at the head of affairs, He's preferred to the fast-finishing Poker Player, who beat Bashart and Bon Accord at Keeneland recently, while Aotearoa had Got Shades back in third when scoring over track and trip earlier this month.
Goldencents won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby back in April over an extended mile. He was returning from a short break when runner-up over 6f last time and is a leading contender. Pants On Fire recorded his highest speed figure so far when beating Taptowne at Churchill Downs last month. But he'll have to do even better in this company, especially if VERRAZANO is back to his best. A disappointment in the Kentucky Derby, the latter was also below par at Saratoga in August. But he routed the field in a Grade 1 at Monmouth in between and Todd Pletcher's colt may just be good enough to overcome a wide draw if in the same mood today. Golden Ticket is better drawn and should give a good account. He makes more appeal than both Centralinteligence and Fed Biz on the Dirt, while Alpha's best run of the year came on a wet track at Saratoga, but the Godolphin colt is unlikely to get any rain here. The progressive Broadway Empire makes most appeal of the outsiders.
The European fillies looks to have a strong hand in this. Chriselliam exploited a slow early pace when returning a shock winner of the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket, but it's hard not to have doubts about the form. Al Thakhira makes more appeal as she won the Rockfel over 7f in fine style and should figure if lasting home. The French filly VORDA has bags of speed and was an impressive winner of the Group 1 Cheveley Park over 6f at Newmarket last month. It's interesting to note dual Breeders' Cup Mile hero, Lure, appears in her pedigree and a chance is taken that Philippe Sogorb's filly has the requisite stamina to make her class tell. Former Tommy Stack inmate Clenor and French import Testa Rossi, one of four entries for Chad Brown, could have been better drawn though My Conquestadory has fared even worse. The latter is held in high regard after an impressive win in one of the leading trials at Keeneland but will need luck in-running exiting the outside post.
Only a small field, but a high-class renewal nonetheless with only Street Girl dismissed as the likely winner. She found Close Hatches too good last time and the latter is the only horse to beat Princess Of Sylmar this year, although Todd Pletcher's filly has since taken revenge. No doubt some of the prize money for landing a Grade 1 at Belmont last time went towards Princess Of Sylmar's 100,000 dollar supplementary fee, but she may struggle confirming recent running with reigning champion Royal Delta. Bill Mott's mare bids for a famous hat-trick of victories in this though BEHOLDER will have something to say about that. The Juvenile Fillies winner at last year's Breeders' Cup, Richard Mandella's three-year-old beat the re-opposing Authenticity to win the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes here on only her second start since May and she may not have finished improving yet.