Day one of the serious Breeders’ Cup handicapping is complete, and have I got a winner for you.
Now is the time of year for the really good three-year-olds to step up and prove just how good they are. I love to see a sophomore at this point who is getting better with each race, and that you have absolutely no question that they can stay the 1 ½ mile distance of the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Danedream’s domination of this month’s Arc is a great example of this type of coming out party. Or if you want specific examples for the BC Turf, how about Lashkari, Manila, Prized, Tikkanen, High Chaparral, Red Rocks, and Conduit, who all chose the biggest American turf race to run their finest race to date. I believe in eight days, we will be adding Sea Moon to this impressive list.
Sea Moon has only run five races in his life to date, but they are all good. After just missing in his career debut last year, the late-developing son of Beat Hallow came back nicely to win finishing up his juvenile season 1 for 2. This year he returned in June to easily win a handicap at York. Next up came a big step up in class for the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes in August. Running off by an eye-popping eight lengths, the Juddmonte owned and Sir Michael Stoute trained youngster displayed both class and liking for the 12 furlong trip that day in a big way.
No longer a secret, Sea Moon was made a 2-1 favorite for the final leg of the English Triple Crown in his latest start. Unfortunately, his chances for victory that day were seriously compromised by an unlucky trip, and he checked in third in the 1 ¾ mile Group 1 St. Leger Stakes on September 10. Since then, his trainer, Michael Stoute, has been preparing him an appearance at Churchill. And in case you have forgotten, Stoute is already a four-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Sea Moon’s main competition is likely to come from fellow Europeans. A total of eleven horses were pre-entered in the Turf, but that number will probably drop to ten with the expected choice of Meeznah to run in the Marathon. Of the ten, it appears that the Europeans should occupy the five top choices in the field. Besides my pick, Sea Moon, the overseas contingent includes two topnotch females in Sarafina, who is held in such high regard in her native France that she has been bet down to 3-1 in the last two runnings of the Arc, and Midday, who is only one neck shy of winning back-to-back editions of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & mare Turf.
The other two Euro entrants come from the powerful Aidan O’Brien barn, and both demand respect on their form overseas. Await the Dawn is a winner of five of his seven starts lifetime and was one of the most highly regarded horses in the world a few short months ago after his huge performance in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. Meanwhile, St Nicholas Abbey is a former juvenile champion and his victories include a strong, group 1 win over Midday earlier this year.
The rest of the field will be made up of a home team that looks less than imposing. Teaks North and Brilliant Speed boast solid form this year, but the former has never beaten this kind, and the latter has run exclusively against three-year-olds. Winchester is the most accomplished runner of the bunch, but failed in a weaker edition of this race last year, and most recently is coming off a race in which he looked completely disinterested in running. Finally Michael Maker has two horses in the race, and while Stately Victor appears to be a rank outsider, Dean’s Kitten is in the best form of his life, and is likely America’s best hope to make some noise.
Considering the proven abilities of the other four Europeans, it is quite possible that Sea Moon goes off as the fifth betting choice in the Turf. Tasty odds indeed for a horse I expect to win.
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