Breeders’ Cup Race Previews and Picks
by Jason Perry
All week long on Danonymous Racing, we’ll have picks & analysis for all 13 Breeders’ Cup races from the Danonymous cast. We’ll keep things going with the Juvenile Turf, handicapped by New York analyst Jason Perry!
2016- Oscar Performance
2015- Hit it a Bomb
2012- George Vancouver
Mendelssohn (1) is one of six European imports. He improved dramatically at huge odds when ambitiously placed in the Group I Darley Dewhurst at New Market. I say ambitious because his race prior was a thirty-three length defeat in the Group II Howcraft Champagne. It’s encouraging that Aiden O’Brien was willing to take a shot against better after getting soundly beaten by lesser. It’s further encouraging that O’Brien now comes to the States on this Championship Day he’s had great success on through the years. Don’t worry about O’Brien’s 0-11 mark this year in North America. He’s had plenty of success in North America in the past. He has three times won the Breeder’s Cup Turf Juvenile, and six times won the Breeder’s Cup Turf. The biggest concern is the disadvantageous rail draw. This regally bred son of Scat Daddy was a three million dollar purchase at the Keeneland yearling sale in 2016 for the powerful ownership group of Smith, Magnier, and Tabor. That is primarily because he is a half brother to champion Beholder (6.1 million) as well as the precocious Into Mischief ($592,000) a three time winner with three seconds in six career starts.
This colt will race on Lasix as will Sands of Mali (3), who may be up against it a bit, but thirty to one on the morning line seems steep. Two back he was an upset winner in a Group II event, but then disappointed in a Group I race three of today’s rivals competed in. His post is a good one, and he ran fine over a good turf course that was firmer than the soft course he navigated last out. I don’t think he’s good enough, but the enormous odds seem enticing.
Beckford (5) has had a nice two year old season with a Group II victory and a pair of Group I second places finishes at Curragh. He went the favorite last out in the GI Juddmonte Middle Parks at New Market finishing a little over three lengths back of the the red hot U S Navy Flag. That was his third straight defeat as the post time favorite. Trainer Gordon Elliott, best known for his steeple chase prowess, is a top trainer in Ireland. He was victorious the only other time he shipped to North America successfully winning in the same sprint-to-route fashion he will attempt on Friday. The five hole is a great draw at this track and distance. He’s probably live.
Rajasinghe (14) exits the same race finishing eleventh, but beaten only six lengths. Rookie trainer Richard Spencer has a small barn led by this talented winner at Royal Ascot. Spencert stated this son of Choisir will like the kind of footing he will race over at Del Mar, and that he didn’t care for the soft ground and undulations he was compromised by in the Juddmonte Middle Parks. That may indeed be the case since his first win came over a synthetic surface, and his next two solid races came over a good/firm and good course respectively. The fourteen post is obviously not going to help, but at least it is a pretty long run into the first turn, so he may have a chance to get a decent spot. Once again 30-1 is reasonable. That said, he’s probably the most unlikely of the Europeans here.
James Garfield (7) is saddled by another young trainer, George Scott. This son of Exceed and Excel comes in off a win in the Group II Mill Reef Stakes going six furlongs at Newbury. He’s a one-run closer that will need to avoid the tardy beginnings he’s had in the past, but he gets an ideal seven post draw, and will benefit with first Lasix as well. My biggest concern would be the one mile distance. His sire is a strong sprint influential stallion, but his mother was out of Breeder’s Cup Turf winner Daylami, who could run all day. All things considered, he is a serious contender.
The last of the Europeans is Masar (6). He seems the most likely European to run well, but that’s not exactly a bold statement given he is the tepid morning line favorite. This son of New Approach hails from top European connections. The Godolphin Stable has been a world class operation for a long time, and trainer Charlie Appleby has been their appointed trainer since July of 2013. He took his first Grade I win in this very same race back in 2013 at Santa Anita with Outstrip. Appleby has indicated this horse should improve with time, and he has absolutely improved a bit in each start culminating with a good third place finish at this distance in the GI Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly. Like his European counterparts he will race with first Lasix on Friday. So it should be no surprise if Appleby can pull it off again in this event with a colt that seems to like a good to firm turf. There’s plenty of pedigree appeal as well. Godolphin raced this colt’s mother, and she tallied nearly a million dollars with three wins and two seconds in ten starts. She was notably the only female horse to defeat males in the Group II UAE Derby in 2011.
Voting Control (8) will likely be the most well supported domestic based runner. That is rightfully so since she races for the best trainer in North America with turf runners. He was a bargain buy costing less than his champion stallion’s stud fee. There is also good pedigree on his female side as his grand dam, Summer Wind Dancer, was multiple stakes placed while earning $900,000. This colt has run well in both starts taking a maiden special weight first out, than running a real good second in the GIII Pilgrim after getting squeezed at the start. Look, there is nothing wrong with this horse, and he may be the best of the American horses, but I suspect you won’t get true win odds given he’s Chad’s lone entrant in here, and players that don’t know what to do with the Europeans will land here. I’m interested a bit more at a likely considerably better price.
Catholic Boy (4) is a perfect two-for-two after winning the Grade III With Anticipation against a solid group of rivals. That was the first stakes win for trainer Jonathan Thomas. If you aren’t familiar with Thomas, you will be. He’s the former assistant of Todd Pletcher, and recently became the listed trainer of a number of Florida based horses. I’m assuming his seventeen wins from fifty-six starters (30%) is no fluke, because “apples don’t far fall from the tree.” It’s also interesting fifty of his fifty-six horses to start have raced on grass, so it’s clear turf racing will be his forte. This colt is out of More Than Ready, one of the youngest stallions to tally 100 stakes winners, and he’s sired grade one stakes winners in seven different countries. The female side of his pedigree is less prolific. There appears to be ample speed in this field to give him a big shot here.
He was flattered when the third place finisher of his last start, Untamed Domain (2) returned to take the GII Summer at Woodbine. That colt has a way of getting himself in trouble, and a sluggish start like he has had in his last two races could prove costly. A son of Animal Kingdom, he has improved a bit with each start for Graham Motion. I think he will be taken relatively far back early, and will be left with too much to do.
Encumbered (9) is two-for-two at this distance, on grass, and over this course. As a two year old in training he brought fifteen times his young sire’s stud fee. I recall his debut when trainer Simon Callaghan hinted he had talent, but that he would need more ground. He was certainly right. I’m torn on this colt, I think he would have to take another step forward, but I’m not against the idea that he will not.
My Boy Jack (13) finally got away from Encumbered, and was able to get to the wire first. That was a maiden victory in a non-graded event after finishing second on three straight occasions. He’s really had the advantage of some fast fractions to run at though, and with a tough post against a large field he would need a lot of racing luck to earn more than a small share. Trainer Keith Desormeaux has done a magnificent job buying talented runners without spending a lot of money. This son of the promising stallion Creative Cause fetched only twenty thousand dollars at auction. He will probably be taken under a firm hold early by Kent Desormeaux and look to secure some kind of ground saving position in the back of the pack.
Flameaway (10) is a colt I want at what should be an enormous price. Yes, I know he’s never raced on grass, but I have full confidence he will be fine. The open length score on a synthetic course in his debut suggests he should appreciate the footing. There has been opposition about this colt being in this group, but it’s not his fault he’s been washed off the turf twice. Additionally, let’s consider the fact he’s won three of four starts, he is a two-time stakes winner, and he is a Grade III stakes winner. He’s got a little speed in a race without much of it, so I hope Julian Leparoux opts to have him forwardly placed. Owner John Oxley has had great success in the past, and he forked up $400,000 for this son of Scat Daddy, so I really believe there is talent here. He overcame a tough post last out, and will have to do so again on Friday. I think he is up for the challenge. With only a couple other speedy rivals he could work out a nice trip if Julian uses him a little early. I don’t know if he will have enough to win, but I think he’s going to like the grass, and I truly believe he outruns his 20-1 ML.
Snapper Sinclair (11) is going to find the waters considerably deeper here. I don’t think he wants to run this far, and I don’t care for the competition he’s faced. He’s a rank outsider with little hope from a poor post. The 350K race he just won was versus a trumped up group of allowance level foes at Kentucky Downs. Proceed with caution if you take any of those races seriously.
Hemp Hemp Hurray (12) will likely try to wire this group, but I’m not a believer. He ran a pretty nice second last out to a legitimate contender today, but an outside draw coupled with deeper competition is concerning. I’ll let him beat me. That said, if he’s left alone weirder things have happened.