The post positions have been drawn and the field is set. Now
that we officially know who is in, barring any unforeseen scratches, we can
take a look at the field. Who’s a toss? Who’s a live long shot? Who drew poorly
and who drew well? Without further ado, here is the field for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
1. Vagabond Shoes 15-1
If it weren’t for his late running style, the rail would
have been a killer place to be. As it stands, Vagabond Shoes makes one run, so
the crush of speed vying for the lead and the shortest route around the track
should not bother him in the early stages of the game. He retains jockey Victor
Espinoza, who has been aboard for his last three outings. Together the duo ran
second in both the G1 Eddie Read and the G2 John Henry Turf Cup and won the G2
Del Mar Handicap. Though the rail has been winning at an 18% clip, Vagabond
Shoes has not been particularly effective at Santa Anita. The added distance
may benefit him as he won at 1 3/8 and ran a game second at 1 ¼, but given the
competition, I feel he is a toss in this spot.
2. Teaks North 30-1
Stakes winner Teaks North has the advantage of being the
closest to the inside of all the speed types, all of who drew consecutive
posts. Trained by the controversial Eric Guillot, the gelded son of Northern
Afleet does not seem to have a whole going for him. He is 0-for-3 at the 12
furlong distance and 0-for-1 at Santa Anita. His best effort of the year
arguably came in the G1 United Nations when he ran second to Big Blue Kitten,
but he has not duplicated that effort since then. Another toss.
I have been high on Twilight Eclipse since he set a new
world record for 1 ½ when winning the G2 Pan American at Gulfstream back in
March. He has had some good efforts since then, but he has also thrown in a
couple of clunkers, too. When he is on his “A game,” he is very good, but I
sense that he is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type. Though he has never raced at
Santa Anita, I believe he’ll find the course to his liking, and we already know
he likes the distance. With Julien Leparoux in the irons, I give him a
legitimate shot. Live long shot alert.
It may seem odd that the defending champion is not the
morning line favorite, but until recently, the popular Little Mike has not
shown last year’s form. After dropping four straight since last year’s shocking
BC Turf win, the Spanish Steps gelding finally found the winner’s circle when
trying a new strategy in the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational. Of the 4
speed types, he is the most likely to take the lead, and if none of the other
three decide to contest things on the front end, he may just take them all the
way on the lead. I liked what I saw in the Joe Hirsch, so I’m finally back on
board with Little Mike. Definitely has a shot.
5. Skyring 30-1
One hit wonder alert! This son of English Channel won the G2
Dixie back in May, and that’s about all that he has done that is worth
discussing. He has done absolutely nothing since, and I do not see anything
that leads me to believe that will change on racing’s biggest stage. Toss.
6. Tale of a Champion 30-1
Locally based Tale of a Champion has a Grade 2 win to his
credit, but the field he faced in the Charles Whittingham was less than
impressive. Last year he ran 8th in the BC Turf Sprint, and I doubt
that he can do better than that in this spot. Toss.
Strictly speaking, the lone filly in the field is the one to
beat. She qualified for both the Turf and the Filly & Mare Turf, but her
connections felt that she would be better suited to the mile and a half Turf
against the boys. She has always finished first or second going 12 furlongs,
but she has never done it against her male counterparts. She beat some of Europe’s
finest last out, and if not for a horrendous trip, she would already have a
Breeders’ Cup win on her résumé by virtue of last year’s Filly & Mare Turf. Regular
jockey William Buick will join her stateside, and every indication points to
The Fugue being ready to show the boys her rump as the field crosses the wire.
It would be a crime to leave her out of any wagers.
America’s darling turf router returns to the starting gate
for the first time since June. Point of Entry is undefeated this year, and
though he has been training well, I have to question his fitness. Animal
Kingdom ran a bang up 2nd in last year’s BC Mile under similar
circumstances, but there is a pretty significant difference in a mile and a
mile and a half. Questions and doubts aside, I have complete confidence in both
trainer Shug McGaughey and jockey John Velazquez, so I imagine Point of Entry
is ready to strut his stuff. A must include in any wager.
Spoiler alert! Who is chestnut, Argentinean bred, a multiple
Group 1 winner, and has taken a liking to California? If you guessed Indy
Point, then you know who I think has an excellent shot to play spoiler to The
Fugue. He inexplicably threw in a clunker in the Arlington Million, but he
bounced right back to win the John Henry Turf Cup in nearly track record time
over the Santa Anita turf course. He’ll enter the Breeders’ Cup off a nearly 5
week freshening and will likely take up a good stalking position. The 9 hole
should serve him well, and with his running style, he will be near the pace if
the pace is comfortable or nicely settled off a quick pace. Definite contender.
The first of the Ramsey duo is also the most likely to bring
home the win for America’s top owners. While Point of Entry was away during the
second half of the year, the 5-year old son of Kitten’s Joy rose to the top of
America’s turf route division with wins in the G1 United Nations and G1 Sword
Dancer and runner-up efforts in the G2 Monmouth and the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf
Classic Invitational. He enters the biggest race of his career in top form and
will be running late. Contender.
11. Magician 8-1
The lone 3-year old in the field may not be on the same
level as The Fugue, but he has made a good showing this year. The lightly raced
Aidan O’Brien trainee has two wins from 3 starts this year, comfortably winning
both the Group 1 Irish Two Thousand Guineas and the Group 3 Dee Stakes. He
finished 9th and last in the Group 1 St. James’s Palace last out but
a line can be drawn through that effort as he was badly impeded two different times
during the stretch drive. He likes to stalk the pace, and his outside post
should help him get a good position. This will be the furthest he has ever been
asked to race, though, and I believe he is up against it class wise. He is not
a complete toss, but I do not think he is a top contender either.
12. Real Solution 8-1
I have liked Real Solution since he returned to the States
from Italy. He has consistently put in good efforts for the Ramseys since his
return, but the only win, and biggest of his career, he has in the U.S. came in
the Arlington Million. Of course, if you’re going to win just one, that’s a
good one to win. I firmly believe that he would have won that race had it been cleanly
run instead of getting the win via The Apache’s disqualification, but you can’t
re-run the race once it’s in the books. Like Magician, he is not a complete
toss, but he is not a top contender either. Like stablemate Big Blue Kitten, he
will find his best stride in the later stages of the race.
Summary: The post position draw actually looks pretty good. There are not any glaringly obvious bad or good draws, and it looks as though everyone should be pretty happy with the post they drew. Under
normal circumstances, I would say that Little Mike would be the contender most
likely to set the pace, but now it is hard to say for sure. The defending
champion unveiled a new dimension in his last start, and if he does not contest
the early lead, then long shot Skyring will likely go to the front. Teaks North
and Twilight Eclipse should be part of the early pace, too, and Indy Point,
Tale of a Champion, and Magician will settle in right behind them. Vagabond
Shoes, The Fugue, Point of Entry, Big Blue Kitten, and Real Solution will all
be charging home late.
Top Picks: The Fugue, Indy Point,
Little Mike, and Big Blue Kitten
Contenders: Point of Entry, Magician,
and Real Solution
Live Long Shot: Twilight Eclipse
Pretenders: Vagabond Shoes, Teaks
North, Skyring, and Tale of a Champion