Check out Man On The Spot's verdicts and selections for tonight's Breeders' Cup action at Churchill Downs.
This Listed sprint represents a drop in class for SOLDIER’S CALL. Archie Watson’s progressive colt has won another twice since landing the Windsor Castle at Ascot in June and finished a terrific third against older sprinters in the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbeye at Longchamp last month. He can confirm earlier running with Queen Of Bermuda and Well Done Fox and looks a cut above the other UK raider Pocket Dynamo. The latter pair were also beaten by Sergei Prokofiev in the Group 3 Cornwallis at Newmarket and the Ballydoyle colt is preferred to stablemate So Perfect while the unbeaten Norfolk Stakes winner Shang Shang Shang has the best form of Wesely Ward’s four runners with Chelsea Cloisters beaten by Strike Silver at Keeneland last month. The latter and winning debutant Bulletin are preferred of the home team.
The first Grade 1 contest on the card can go to Chad Brown’s NEWSPAPEROFRECORD. The trainer has won this four times in the last 10 years including the last two renewals and his unbeaten filly looked a potential star when romping home by over six lengths in a Grade 2 at Belmont in September. Concrete Rose beat Pakhet and Belle Laura to win a Grade 2 at Keeneland in good style while La Pelosa makes most appeal of the European fillies. The Godolphin charge made a successful trip over to Woodbine in September when landing the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes while Ballydoyle’s Just Wonderful picked-up the Rockfel Stakes over 7f at Newmarket having won over a mile earlier. The Mackem Bullet was narrowly beaten over 6f in the Cheveley Park and attempts this longer trip for the first time along with Kevin Ryan’s East, a winner of a Group 3 race in France last time, but Lily's Candle won the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac last month and looks a bigger threat on that form.
The action moves to the Dirt track for this and four of these fillies have already won at the highest level. Unbeaten on the West Coast, Bellafina has won twice in this company now after dotting-up at Santa Anita though a high draw is not ideal. Restless Rider handled the step up in trip to score at Keeneland last month and is preferred to Saratoga winner Sippican Harbor. But the latter’s winning rider, Joel Rosario, has abandoned her after partnering JAYWALK when the grey filly won the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont with an impressive display. That race has produced 11 previous winners of this contest and John Servis’s charge gets the vote on that form. Serengeti Empress beat little to win a Grade 2 here last time but couldn’t have done so more easily and should cope with this step up in class but all of the remainder have plenty to find with the leading contenders.
Four of the last seven winners have hailed from Ballydoyle and last year’s winner Mendelssohn was also placed in the Dewhurst before landing this. Anthony Van Dyck was third in the latter contest when last in action but a wide draw has done him no favours and he’ll need some luck in-running. That also applies to Todd Pletcher’s Current, who won a Grade 3 at Keeneland last time but only by a nose from Henley's Joy with War Of Will a close-up third while Forty Under beat Somelikeithotbrown to also win a Grade 3 at Belmont and could go well. But LINE OF DUTY (NAP) impressed when showing a good turn of foot to win a Group 3 contest in France for Charlie Appleby, who won this 2013, and the Godolphin colt is fancied to take another step forward to land this prize. UK representatives Arthur Kitt and Marie's Diamond look up against it but The Black Album is interesting for France having finished in front of a subsequent Group 1 winner when scoring at Longchamp in September.
We return to the main Dirt track for the last of the Grade 1 contests with a couple standing out from the rest. Complexity made every yard in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont last time and is fancied to confirm running with Code Of Honor but may also set the race up nicely for GAME WINNER. Bob Baffert’s dual Grade 1 winner has won all three starts in California and finished over four lengths clear of Gunmetal Gray at Santa Anita last time. He’s reportedly travelled well and could prove the one to beat. Mind Control is a Grade 1 winner over 7f but missed a prep-race with a fever subsequently while Knicks Go was allowed his own way in front to win the Futurity at Keeneland but that’s unlikely to happen here and third-placed Standard Deviation may well reverse running. Well Defined showed a big improvement to win at Gulfstream but it remains to be seen how he copes at this level.