There will be a record 46 international runners in the 14 Breeders’ Cup races at Del Mar.
In total, 169 runners have been declared for the 14 races which make up the 38th running of the meeting, where prize-money of $31 million is on offer. Many of the races are oversubscribed and that means some entries face an anxious few days among the reserves.
“We are very proud of the magnificent array of talent of Group and Graded Stakes winners from around the world who have been pre-entered for this year’s World Championships,” said Drew Fleming, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “International competition at its highest level is the hallmark of the Breeders’ Cup, and we thank the horsemen and women who prepare these outstanding equine athletes for the biggest races in their careers for their participation.”
How strong is the raiding party from Britain and Ireland, and will they be able to improve on the three winners they enjoyed when the Breeders’ Cup was last staged at Del Mar four years ago? Here’s a guide to the challengers and where they wer drawn on Monday night.
9.50pm: JUVENILE TURF SPRINT (5f; $1 MILLION)
Trainer: Richard Hannon. BHA Rating: 111. Draw 7
The son of No Nay Never, who was runner-up in the Turf Sprint in 2014, has progressed well since winning on firm ground on his debut at Doncaster in April, even if his only other win came in the Molecomb at Goodwood. He ran as well as he has ever done on his latest start, when a close third behind the smart Perfect Power in the Group One Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket. Has a bit about him, physically, but the drop back to the minimum trip is not sure to suit.
Hannon says: I always felt if we knew he handled fast ground it would be worth taking him to the Breeders' Cup for the Juvenile Sprint. He is improving and developing more physically than I expected, so I would love to try for another Group 1 option.
GO BEARS GO
Trainer: David Loughnane. BHA Rating: 110. Draw 3
Loughnane hailed him as the “best I’ve trained” after his victory in the Group Two Railway Stakes over 6f at The Curragh in June, a win that came just nine days after his head defeat at the hands of Perfect Power in the 5f Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot when he was first home on his part of the track. He then ran well n Group 1 company on his next two starts (beaten under a length each time) but he ran a dull race upped to 7f in the Dewhurst last time. Needs to bounce back over a trip which may now be on the sharp side for him.
Trainer: Hugo Palmer. BHA Rating: 108. Draw 5
He’s speedily bred and created a good impression in winning his first two races at Wolverhampton and Salisbury. The chestnut colt has since come up a bit short in pattern races at Kempton and Newbury, but his latest head defeat at the hands of Wings Of War in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury hinted he may have more to offer. He’s raced exclusively over 6f but looks to have more than enough pace to be comfortable over the minimum trip, and he may even improve for it.
Trainer: Michael O’Callaghan. BHA Rating: 110. Draw 1
If experience counts for anything, then this speedy Irish colt should make his presence felt because he was having his tenth outing of the campaign (five of them in England) when a decisive winner of the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket last time. That victory came after he finished a close fifth (beaten about a length) in the Group One Middle Park Stakes, and placed efforts in pattern contests at York and Doncaster. His merit seems pretty well established, but he’s clearly got a great constitution and is likely to give it another good shot.
O’Callaghan says: “After he won the other day I was saying ‘I’ll give this lad a break’ – but he arrived home the next morning and he told me different. He absolutely loves racing, he has a great constitution. He loves his job and he’s a dream to train. He’s danced every dance this year so whatever he does at the Breeders’ Cup will be a bonus.”
Trainer: Brian Meehan. BHA Rating: 101. Draw 4
Beaten in her first five races and with an official rating that suggests she’s up against it, plenty will not give her a second look. However, it could be folly to underestimate her because she looked transformed when dropped to 5f and allowed to bowl along at the head of affairs in a Listed contest often won by a good horse at Ayr last month. She seems certain to attack from the gates and the manner in which she hung left when beaten at Kempton this summer suggests the track will suit.
VERDICT: The home team have won the first three renewals and the Wesley Ward pair, Averly Jane and Twilight Gleaming, head the ante-post betting, but One Timer migt be underestimated. Ward’s Golden Pal was a short-priced winner last year after being beaten at Royal Ascot, while Nigel Tinkler’s Ubettabelieveit was third having never previously run in a Group One. That augurs well for a strong squad this time. The official ratings point to Armor, but this speedy 5f may be on the sharp side for him. Twilight Jet and Vertiginous are both well drawn and, all speed, may be the pick of the raiders.
Drew Fleming tells us more about the Breeders' Cup and his background
Trainer: George Boughey. BHA Rating: 107. Draw 3
She’s been unable to add to her debut win at Newmarket in May but has run some solid races in defeat, including on her past two starts at Newmarket when ridden from the front. On her latest start, she outrun odds of 22/1 when sticking on to be third to Inspiral in the Fillies’ Mile, having previously chased home Hello You, who she is set to meet again, in the Rockfel Stakes. She had also finished behind Hello You in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot. The mile should not be an issue but others are more persuasive.
Trainer: David Loughnane. BHA Rating: 108. Draw 6
Her first three runs this year, which included a second place in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, were for Ralph Beckett, before being moved to Loughnane’s Shropshire yard. Her new trainer, who excels with juveniles, wasted no time equipping her with a hood, although no improvement was forthcoming until she landed the 7f Rockfel Stakes in fluent fashion at Newmarket last time. A mile should be within her compass and she impressed when whizzing home at left-handed Wolverhampton on her debut. The preliminaries will be important as she has got worked up on occasions.
MISE EN SCENE
Trainer: James Ferguson. BHA Rating: 107. Draw 13
Her rookie trainer only sent out his first runner two years ago but tasted Group One glory with El Bodegon in France this month. Mise En Scene impressed when winning her first two races, over 7f at Haydock and Goodwood, and stuck to her task willingly when fourth to Inspiral on softer going in the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket this month. There’s been an element of her learning on the job and she’s open to more improvement, with the trip clearly no issue.
Ferguson says: “It’s been half-planned since she won at Goodwood. She’s still very lightly raced, so she’ll be a fresh horse, whereas a lot of horses in the race will have had a heavy season. To have a runner at the Breeders’ Cup in only my second year training is huge.”
VERDICT: There’s not an outstanding candidate among the raiders, although Hello You impressed last time and, if she relaxes beforehand, then she could run a massive race. Double-figure odds underestimate her prospects.
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Trainer: Charlie Appleby. BHA Rating: 108. Draw 1
The son of Dubawi, out of a Street Cry mare, was gelded after losing his maiden tag at Haydock on his second start and has been steadily progressive – extending his winning sequence to four with victory in the Grade One Summer Mile at Woodbine on his latest start. He’s got plenty of experience, has won from the front and is likely to have the assistance of Frankie Dettori, plus is proven on firm ground. His inclination to hang left should not be an issue here, but other European challengers, including his stablemate, Modern Games, have stronger form credentials.
Appleby says: “He won a ‘win and you’re in’ at Woodbine. He reminds me of Line Of Duty [the 2018 winner]. He might not be the best horse in the race – but he’s got an abundance of experience going into it, and I think he’ll love the hustle and bustle of it round there. You want those with a bit more experience and that have been beaten."
Trainer: Hugo Palmer. BHA Rating: 116. Draw 14
He’s always had a big reputation and was having only his third start when beating all bar Native Trail, Europe’s leading two-year-old, in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last time. There’s no reason to doubt the form with Group Two winners Bayside Boy (since placed again at the highest level) and Berkshire Shadow the next pair home. Dubawi Legend had previously been a commanding winner on his Doncaster debut before running below-par in the Acomb at York, when he was found to be off-colour. A mile should suit, while the ground was on the quick side when he won first time out. The handicapper has him on 116, making him the best of the European raiders.
Palmer says: “He ran an absolute blinder [ in the Dewhurst]. He showed the world what we have always thought of him, that he is a two-year-old out of the very top drawer. We’ve been excited about him for a long time and it was great he came and did that. It sucks being second, you’re the first loser, and on some ratings he’s the third best two-year-old in Europe. He actually put on two kilogrammes for the run. He’s a lightly-raced horse and he’s had plenty of breaks through the season. I think the trip to Del Mar will really make him grow up.”
Watch a full replay of the Darley Dewhurst Stakes
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. BHA Rating: 104. Draw 8
He carries colours of 96-year-old Evie Stockwell, who also has a twin and is the mother of Coolmore supremo John Magnier. I cannot believe there has been an older winning owner at the Breeders’ Cup, although he looks up against it to judge by his sixth place in the Dewhurst (beaten seven lengths) when well adrift of Dubawi Legend. It could be he needed that run, his first for six months, although he did not have much to spare when landing a Group Three prize at Leopardstown a week later.
Trainer: Michael Bell. BHA Rating: 106. Draw 7
There was plenty to like about the way he won on his debut at Newbury and his third to Point Lonsdale in the Chesham at Royal Ascot was achieved just nine days later. Great Max has not gone to the next level, though, and faded to finish fifth behind Native Trail in the National Stakes last time, albeit he was up against Europe’s top two-year-old that day.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. BHA Rating: 111. Draw 1
Charlie Appleby on the merits of Albahr and Modern Games
Appleby scooped this prize with Outstrip (2013) and Line Of Duty (2018) and so knows better than most what is required. Modern Games is peaking at just the right time and is unbeaten in three starts when the word “firm” has been in the going description. There was plenty to like about the way he won the Group Three Tattersalls Stakes over 7f at Newmarket last time, having previously won a handicap over the same trip in emphatic fashion at Doncaster. He is open to more improvement stepping up to a mile, but he’s officially rated 5lb inferior to Dubawi Legend and clock watchers will have a niggle as he’s yet to record a decent time.
Appleby says: “We think he’d be suited round there. He’s got natural pace – quick ground will suit him, and he’s got enough experience as well. He’s earned his stripes and ticks a few boxes.”
VERDICT: There have been eight British or Irish-trained winners since the first running in 2007 and the odds looked stacked in their favour. Dubawi Legend has the best form but is drawn widest, while Charlie Appleby’s challengers have plenty of 1s against their name and the right attributes, plus are berthed in gates 1 and 2.
A CASE OF YOU
Trainer: Ado McGuinness. BHA Rating: 113. Draw 6
Dropping back to 5f on his past two starts has been the making of him, with a near-miss in the Flying Five at The Curragh being followed by a tenacious victory on testing ground in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp. He had Glass Slippers, the winner of this last year, behind on each occasion. The question mark is whether he will handle the firm ground because he’s yet to race on slower than good, and all his turf wins have been achieved on soft or heavy going.
McGuinness says: “It’s a great thrill for us to have a horse to go there, it’s brilliant for us to get out there and see what it’s all about. They tell me it’s [the ground] not flint hard. It’s quick but there is lovely sponge in the surface out there. I think he’ll handle it. If he produces what he is capable of doing, it will take a good horse to beat him. The draw is key, we’d love a low draw which would be massive help to him, I’d be confident that he’s going to run a huge race out there.”
Trainer: Kevin Ryan. BHA Rating: 117. Draw 2
It’s taken a while to unlock all of the five-year-old’s ability, but he travels to America on the back of successive career-best runs. He showed bundles of speed when edging out Starman, the July Cup winner, in the 6f Sprint Cup at Haydock last time – form franked at Ascot on Champions Day – having previously beaten all bar Winter Power in the Nunthorpe, with such as Golden Pal (seventh) behind. At home on firm ground and not short of gate speed, he should make a bold bid to emulate his stablemate, Glass Slippers, who took the spoils 12 months ago.
Trainer: Kevin Ryan. BHA Rating: 112. Draw 1
She made history when becoming the first European-trained winner last year, having previously won the Flying Five and been unfortunate not to land a second successive Prix de l’Abbaye. A bold defence looks on the cards, as she was not seen to best advantage when five lengths third behind A Case Of You in the latest running of the Prix de l’Abbaye, having previously finished only a neck behind that rival in the Flying Five. Glass Slippers seems well served by pouncing from off the pace, so an overly strong gallop would help her.
VERDICT: Golden Pal is no bigger than 2/1 but he fluffed his lines in the Nunthorpe, when well adrift of Emaraaty Ana, who then raised his game even higher at Haydock. All three British and Irish challengers are chalked up at about 8/1, making them a collective 2/1 to win. Would you rather be with Golden Pal at 2/1, or with the three raiders at the same price?
Trainer: James Fanshawe. BHA Rating: 115. Draw 12
She was a revelation in the second half of last season, when she signed off with a memorable success in this race – beating a strong home team and better-fancied raiders. Audarya has been unable to get her head in front in four starts at the highest level this term but not been far off her best, including last time when fourth in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp when fading late on after cruising to the front a furlong and a half out. Twelve months ago, she finished third in that race (behind Tarnawa) before winning at the Breeders’ Cup and she could well become the first back-to-back winner. Ouija Board, also trained in Newmarket, won in 2004 and 2006.
Trainer: Ger Lyons. BHA Rating: 106. Draw 3
I wouldn’t judge her too harshly on her no-show in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last time as she was held up in a tactical affair where it paid to race handily. She had previously put up a career-best to land a competitive Group Three contest at The Curragh, which came after several runs when she was not seen to best advantage. There’s a suspicion we’ve not seen the best of the Juddmonte-owned filly, although she needs to show considerably more to trouble the judge.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. BHA Rating: 118. Draw 6
Aidan O'Brien discusses Love and his other Breeders' Cup entries
Her first preference is listed as the Longines Turf but Aidan O’Brien has since said this will be her destination. She’s a Group One winner at two, three and four with her reappearance victory in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot being achieved at the main expense of Audarya. She’s versatile regards trip and is at her best on fast ground but, on the minus side, she’s lost some of her swagger and travels to America on the back of three successive defeats plus setbacks (a high temperature) leading to her missing the Arc and Champions Day. She looks Aidan O’Brien’s best chance of adding to his 13 Breeders’ Cup wins but there are chinks in her armour.
Trainer: Hugo Palmer. BHA Rating: 100. Draw 10
Her solitary win from five outings was achieved on the all-weather at Lingfield at the end of 2020. A distant sixth in the Oaks on her second start this term, she was then absent four months before finishing third in a Group Three contest over 1m 2f at Newmarket last time. She’s yet to race on anything but a soft surface on turf and has bundles to find on form.
Trainer: Andrew Balding. BHA Rating: 109. Draw 5
Her first preference is the Mile but she seems unlikely to make the cut, so this seems a more likely assignment. Queen Supreme was a prolific performer in South Africa for Mike de Kock, winning twice at Group One level, but she ran poorly on her final start there and then, eight months later, trailed home last on her British debut at Newmarket in September. It’s difficult to see her making any impact on that evidence.
VERDICT: The rematch between Love and Audarya is likely to hold the key. The latter arguably comes into this having had the better preparation but the draw has not been kind.
MASTER OF THE SEAS
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. BHA Rating: 117. Draw 1
The Dubawi colt was a smart two-year-old who lost out on the bob to Poetic Flare in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May. However, we didn’t see him during the summer and he’s been a bit underwhelming in two starts this autumn – fluffing his lines in the Joel Stakes back at Newmarket before failing to make much impact in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot this month. He’s not an obvious candidate to bounce back, especially as he can still be keen.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. BHA Rating: 114. Draw 9
This will be her ninth Group One/Grade One run of the year but she’s thrived on her busy schedule and been a model of consistency. Her reappearance win in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May was gained at the expense of three subsequent Group One winners and the fact she’s won only once more this term, at Deauville in early August, does not do her justice. On her latest start, she took on the boys for the first time and was a creditable fifth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. A strong stayer over a mile who is at home on fast ground and versatile regards tactics, she should again give a good account.
Trainer: Paddy Twomey. BHA Rating: 109. Draw 12
She’s a likeable filly who has continued to improve with racing this term, finishing runner-up in Group1 races on her past two starts. She might have won the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown last month had the winner, No Speak Alexander, not got first run on her in a messy affair, and she put up a bold effort in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp last time, only for Space Blues to cut her down late on. Turning the tables won’t be easy, but the fast ground may bring them closer together and her prominent style of running is also a plus.
Paddy Twomey says: “She wouldn’t have liked the ground last time, she wants fast ground. If she gets a low draw in Del Mar I’d be very hopeful of her running a good race. I spent a summer out in Del Mar when I was a kid and I’d love to have a winner there.”
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. BHA Rating: 117. Draw 3
It’s easy to forget he began his career running over a mile and further, given that his past 15 runs have been up to 7f. He’s been hard to fault in the past 16 months, with his only defeats in nine outings coming when dropped to a bare 6f at Meydan in March, and then when short of his peak after five months at Goodwood in July. Space Blues has been on his A Game in his past two starts, winning at York’s Ebor meeting before swooping from off the pace in the Prix de la Foret last time. Habitually held up, he will need the gaps to appear at the right time stepping back up in trip.
VERDICT: Space Blues arrives on a roll and his acceleration will be a potent weapon provided the longer trip does not blunt his powers. Mother Earth and Pearls Galore also warrant close consideration.
Her first preference is this race but Aidan O’Brien has since intimated she will run in the Filly & Mare Turf. See above.
Trainer: Dermot Weld. BHA Rating: 122.. Draw 13
She’s the headline act among the European challengers and must have bright prospects of becoming only the third two-time winner of this race – and the first filly/mare to achieve the feat. Her defeat of Magical last year deserves marking up as she was held up in a steadily-run race and had to challenge wide. And if anything has enhanced her reputation this season with narrow defeats in the Irish Champion Stakes (at the hands of St Mark’s Basilica) and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (on ground deeper than ideal). Her hold-up style of running can invite trouble but she has a superb turn of foot.
Trainer: Roger Varian. BHA Rating: 113. . Draw 12
Too keen for her own good when third to Snowfall in the Musidora at York in May and finished well-held behind that same rival on soft ground in the Oaks at Epsom, when tried in a hood. It’s all clicked on her past two starts, though, with a comfortable win in Listed company at Windsor being followed with a defeat of Snowfall in the Group One Prix Vermeille at Longchamp. This trip and fast ground suits – she missed the Arc because of the soft going - and the daughter of the outstanding Sea The Stars, who is out of a Group One-winning mare, will be a player if she settles early on.
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. BHA Rating: 117. Draw 10
It has required a gelding operation, plus the fitting of a hood, to help Yibir realise his potential, although ground conditions are also clearly important to him. When the word “soft” has featured in the going, his form reads 35426, while on good or quicker it is 113111 – and when third he was just a neck behind Adayar, the subsequent Derby and King George hero. He has looked a little ungainly at times, but he followed up his Great Voltigeur success with a convincing win in last month’s Jockey Club Derby Invitational. He’s a strong stayer at the trip with a potent turn of foot.
Appleby says: “He’s a young pretender going out there. Gelding was the making of him. We’ve always liked him, but he’s had his own mind-set towards the game. I think we’ll keep the hood on. On his last start I was a bit concerned the hood might have knocked him to sleep a bit too much but he knows where the finishing line is and so he did it the right way round.”
Trainer: Charlie Appleby. BHA Rating: 115. . Draw 7
There’s never been a winner of the Turf aged older than 5, so the globetrotting seven-year-old is seeking to break new ground. Don’t discount a big run at likely chunky odds because his form on foreign shores this year is solid. This will admittedly be a lot tougher than last month’s Canadian International at Woodbine, which he won by a wide margin, but his previous effort behind Alpinista and Torquator Tasso in Germany now looks a lot better than it did at the time, and he’d been a good fourth to Mishriff in Dubai before that. Del Mar should suit his usual prominent style of racing.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. BHA Rating: 115. Draw 14
He’s first reserve but will be guaranteed a run if his stablemate Love defects, which is now on the cards. He was established as among the best middle-distance horses in training in 2019 – won the Juddmonte International and was fourth in Arc – but he’s since been underwhelming and been beaten in each of the eight Group One races he has contested. He didn’t get the rub of the green when beaten a neck in the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga in August but his latest effort, at Belmont, was disappointing.
Joseph O'Brien has trained and ridden a Breeders' Cup winner. He tells Kevin O'Ryan more about the magic of the meeting
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. BHA Rating: 117. Draw 8
He was a close fourth in the 2019 Derby and has mainly run well since, although it took him another two years before finally winning at the top level at Saint-Cloud in July. The fact that he’s been used as a pacemaker for other stablemates on occasions tells you something, and he cut little ice in the Arc last time. Can also be slow away from the stalls.
Also entered but reserves:
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. BHA Rating: 115
It seems a long while ago that he went off at just 11/8 to win the Derby after successive wins at Leopardstown. He finished a well-beaten seventh at Epsom (returned with a cut) and has since been campaigned exclusively in America, with mixed results. Victory in the Belmont Derby has been followed by two lesser efforts, including behind Yibir back at Belmont last time.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. BHA Rating: 114
His creditable fifth in last year’s renewal was sandwiched in between Group One wins in France and Hong Kong, which suggested he could be a force on the international stage this year. However, he has not reproduced his best in four starts and spurned a good opportunity at Deauville last time. His connections will probably lament running him on soft ground, as his best form has been on quick terrain.
Verdict: European-trained runners have dominated this event and another “away win” is on the cards with Tarnawa having outstanding claims. The way she is ridden can make her a hostage to fortune but, granted luck in running from a wiude draw, she will again be hard to beat. Yibir and Walton Street also tick several boxes.
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