It's rare that an American horse is rated higher than the European shippers going into the Breeders Cup Turf, however, Point of Entry's run of four successive dominant performances hasn't gone unnoticed on British shores with the local bookmakers readily installing Claude McGaughey III's charge as the favourite for the race.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
A four length drumming of Al Khali in the Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga last time out, when giving the majority of his rivals seven pounds, is a heartening performance that showed that his arguably unexpected strong victory in the Man O' War Stakes at Belmont was not the fluke that some believed it was. Improving all the time, McGaughey III's four year old son of Dynaformer has come a long way since his fourth-placed finish in the Curlin Stakes this time last year and has readily thrust his way into the public eye as a horse they all have to beat, a new East Coast fan favourite on the turf.
Over on the West Coast, you'd find it hard to find a turf horse any more loved than Doug Warren's Acclamation. A horse that mirrored the legendary front-running tactics of Presious Passion in the 2010 Jim Murray Handicap, Acclamation hasn't stopped pulling out exceptional win after exceptional win. A trio of Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicaps have been perfectly complimented by victories in Pacific Classics, Eddie Read Stakes and Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. However, injury has played it's part to hinder the continual progression of Acclamation.
Not seen for eight months, Acclamation powered to victory under P-Val when reappearing at Hollywood Park to defend his Charles Whittingham Memorial title. A subsequent defence in the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar was also readily achieved, yet injury has prevented him from reappearing since. If the old Acclamation that we all love does, indeed, turn up to the Breeders Cup Turf, he may just be very hard to stop. Galloping well since a mild sprain of a left foot prevented him from racing since Del Mar, this exciting six year old may not have stopped winning yet.
Andre Fabre's Meandre and Sir Michael Stoute's Sea Moon could yet ship to Santa Anita to strengthen Europe's hand in the race amongst others.
Admittedly to the European contingent, the Breeders Cup Turf has regularly been more of an afterthought after a lacklustre performance in a Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, but this year the weather may just have redirected some of the best European turf horses towards the sunny climes of Santa Anita. Snow Fairy, previously touted for the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, is an exceptional filly but one who does not appreciate significantly soft going. The recent downpours in Europe have prompted forecasters to predict a soft ground Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe which has, in turn, prompted Ed Dunlop to confirm his filly will not run in Europe's premier race if that is, indeed, the case.
Dunlop adores the Breeders Cup; In an interview with us before Snow Fairy's scintillating Irish Champion Stakes victory, he confirmed that, other than winning two Classics (Epsom Oaks), the Breeders Cup victories of Ouija Board were some of the best days of his training career, and a feat that he wants to recreate with the progressive daughter of Intikhab.
The Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf is an alternative option for Snow Fairy, yet the lure of the Breeders Cup Turf may prove much greater for connections. A Group 1 winning mare against colts already, the Breeders Cup Turf would thrive from an entry from Snow Fairy in a race she would potentially have at her mercy.
St Nicholas Abbey again looks to return to the scene of his greatest victory to defend his Breeders Cup Turf title. An impressive winner of the 2011 renewal, St Nicholas Abbey has been in and out of sorts this season with a dominant Epsom Coronation Cup (G1) performance diluted by an uncharacteristically poor performance in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, to name one. To many, a two length defeat at the hands of Danedream is not one to be disheartened by, yet this son of Montjeu has shown a lesser will to win this year, flying all too late at the finish. A return to America may see him return to his very best should Joseph O'Brien put him into the position to thrive at the right time.