2012 Breeders' Cup Turf: America's greatest chance

September 25, 2012 03:20am
Point of Entry and jockey John Velazquez winning the Grade 1, $600,00 Sword Dancer at Saratoga Race Course.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
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.

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. 

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. 

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.  


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Older Comments about 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf: America's greatest chance...

What a race is starting to developefor the Turf, my choice will have to be Point of Entry, we still have not seen his best and once again he will Wow us again in the Joe Hirsh
I like Acclamation and Point of Entry's chances, too, but there's no doubt that the European contingent will be tough.
edgar, dear, I think that enlightenment may take longer than the remaining weeks until the BC races :)
Oh, I guess Jasen and Turf Lover witnessed my secret wedding to Acclamation, so that's why they directed their comments about him to me, so let's see. First, Turf Lover, I think Acclamation and Get Serious banged at the start of that U.N. race, then both battled for the lead, and tired, but still that wasn't so horrid, time-wise for either, even 5th and 9th and last, but behind 2:11.77 for 1&3/8m, plus that was way back in 2010. I didn't think anyone beside me goes back more than a year to check form. Also, Turfy, that was Acclamation"s one and only turf race outside of Ca., so the conclusions that can be drawn about his ability to face Eastern horses may not have a big enough how do you say test market when conducting polls? Jasen, whose blogs I often enjoy, as manutim said(and I only found your comment to me after I went to the article and viewed all comments) Acclamation has shown that he does not need to immediately take the lead. He can be as much as 5 lengths off the lead, for instance as he ran in the 2011 Murray, or in the '11 Western Hirsch, 2L back at the 3/4. Little Mike was able to last the 10f of the Million by setting a slow pace, so I will have to think more about what you said, after I watch Little Mike's Eastern Hirsch effort, and he was my Million pick due to the rider change to Dominguez as I knew he could budget Little Mike's speed. You have seen the pace which Acclamation has been able to keep through 12f.
"[...] America's Greatest Chance" ... to place. Sorry, I am sticking to euros. Point of entry looks good on paper, but the shipping part and east coast to west coast form is skeptical, unless someone with superior knowledge of the horse itself (i.e. groomer) can enlighten me.
little mike being in race would not affect acclamation a great deal, as he has shown he is not a must have the lead type. he wouldclose on little mike around 3/8 pole and then finish in 46 and change.of course we still have to get there.
If Acclamation gets his chance to run in the BC Turf, he's my win pick. There should be word tonight on how his workout went. Hopefully both Little Mike and Point Of Entry also make the field for a strong U.S. contingent.
  • ILuvTurfRacing · @Mary Z, I know you've been an avid supporter of Acclamation over the years and I certainly understand your appeal to him because he's got a large heart. For racing in California on turf he's cream of the crop. How he'd fare against the better east coast turf horses if he were to ship east to face them is anyone's guess really? The one time he did ship east for the United Nations he ran a poor race that was dominated by a European horse, Chinchon. I think it will be a huge bonus for Acclamation that the BC Turf will be run on a California racetrack this year, and maybe if he runs a huge race he could hit the board. But I can't see him being good enough to beat the European contingent or even Point of Entry at his best. And I'll gladly come back on here and eat a big piece of humble pie if Acclamation proves me wrong in the BC Turf. But I honestly admire your loyalty to Acclamation. You've cheered him on for a long time now. · 2486 days ago
  • jasen.mangrum · Mary, if you want Acclamation to win you should want Little Mike to stay as far away as possible, because if he shows up Acclamation has no shot. Little Mike will burn him up through the early part of the race. · 2485 days ago
I doubt Shug McGaughey would do it? But I think it would great to see Point Of Entry sent to Woodbine in mid-October for the G1 Canadian International Stakes. There figures to be several quality European middle distance horses in the field this year, chief among likely to be Aidan O'Brien's G1 Grand Prix De Paris winner Imperial Monarch and Sir Michael Stoute's G2 Hardwicke Stakes and G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes winner, Sea Moon. James Fanshawe is talking about sending Brown Panther and/or Dandino, and John Gosden may be sending Gatewood, who was recently very narrowly touched off by Masterstroke in the G2 Grand Prix De Deauville in France. A run in the Canadian International would certainly give the connections of Point of Entry a pretty good sense of how they could possibly fare a few weeks later in the G1 BC Turf, IMO.
short stretch there
As someone who's a huge lover of turf racing that follows the European turf scene very closely on a daily basis I can say without a seconds hesitation that Point Of Entry is not only America's best chance of winning the race, but he stacks up with the European horses, IMO. It's been awhile since I've been able to say that about an American middle distance turf horse. I keep up pretty closely jumping around on different web-sites with what connections are sending which horses to which races, etc.....I'm not entirely sure with it being over a month still until the Breeders Cup which horses are basically certain to run in the BC Turf this year? But I think at his best, Point of Entry absolutely has a real chance of winning the BC Turf or at the very least running into a place in the race. No matter who the Euro's send over.
Even though Point of Entry is on a huge roll right now, Snow Fairy and St. Nicholas Abbey are such top notch performers that its tough to look anywhere else.
I have a lot of respect for Acclamation. If he can be 100% on his home West Coast he could be dangerous. Little Mike could influence the pace of the race.
If Acclamation can come back as good as ever, the duo of him and Point of Entry give the U.S. a great chance to reclaim the BC Turf.

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