The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), which was run on Super Saturday at Belmont Park, was the last race in the Challenge Series for the Turf. Twelve races were run with each awarding a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Turf on November 1st. Of those 12 races eight were overseas with only four contested in the United States.
Here is a look at some of the most likely runners in this
year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf
, as the prep races are almost complete.
The international runners have to decide if they want to
make the long trip to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup or stay closer to home
and vie for races like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which will be run on Oct.
5 at Longchamp, or the Champion Stakes at Ascot on Oct. 19th.
Between the lure of those big race days in France and
England and typical injuries and ailments none of the eight “Win and You’re In”
qualifiers plan to run in the Breeders’ Cup.
Retirement and laminitis eliminated two of the possible horses. Gold
Ship from Japan, the German runner Ivanhowe, and the filly Taghrooda are all
headed to the Arc. British superstars Australia and The Grey Gatsby are
headed to a rematch at Ascot.
However, three of Europe’s most experienced and successful
Breeders’ Cup trainers have runners headed to Santa Anita. Between the three
horsemen they have won the Turf 10 times.
ran in the Prix Foy (G1) in France for trainer Andre Fabre on Sept. 14. Fabre is a two-time Turf winner.
BC Turf defending champion. This Aidan O’ Brien star finished second in the
Arlington Million on Aug. 16. Magician would join the elite company of High
Chaparral and Conduit as repeat winners of the Turf. O’Brien has four victories
in the Turf, including the back-to-back victories with High Chaparral.
finished third in the Juddmonte International (G1) on August 20th
is trained by four-time BC Turf winner Michael Stoute.
One of the most successful prep races for the BC Turf has
been the Arc. European horses that finished in the top five at Longchamp have
won the Turf five times since 2000. With the Arc being run on Oct. 5, pay attention if any
of this year’s contestants decide to make the trip to California.
Only three American horses earned WAYI spots in this year’s
BC Challenge races because Main Sequence
won both the United Nations at Monmouth Park on July 6 and the Turf Classic at
Belmont Park on Sept. 27. This import from England has been a perfect three for
three in grade one races since moving into the American barn of Graham Motion.
After the Turf Classic, Motion talked about his turf star, "I think what
helps him over here is
they tend to go perhaps a little quicker than they do at home, so he has a
little bit of a pace to run at. Even
when the fractions are slow, they still go a little quicker than they do at
home. I think when he breaks a step slow he's still got a pace to run at and
that really helps him. He's also a little quirky if he makes the lead too
early, like you saw [in the Turf Classic]. He's definitely a quirky horse, but
he's definitely got a ton of ability."
defeated last year’s Turf winner, Magician, in the Arlington Million. Hardest Core is preparing for the Turf in the
same way that he got ready for the Million. Trainer Eddie Graham is
conditioning his horse at his home base, Runnymeade Farm in Pennsylvania. No
other races are planned for him prior to Nov. 1.
Big John B
his way into the Turf when he won the Del Mar Handicap (G2) on Aug. 23rd
Big John B was claimed for $50,000 by his current owner Michael House at
Keeneland in April. Most recently he finished third in the John Henry Turf
Championship (G2) at Santa Anita as the (4-5) betting favorite.
Trainer Phil D’Amato thought the race was a
good prep for Big John B, “This will set him up for that mile and a half
(Breeders’ Cup Turf) as well. Mike Smith jumped off and said, ‘mile and a
half.’ The horse came with a run and he ran well. I always thought a mile and
quarter was probably as short as I’d go with Big John. A mile and a half, a
mile and three-eighth is right in his wheel house.”
Even though trainer D’Amato did not win the John Henry
with Big John B, his other runner Bright Thought
did get the victory and is now being aimed for the BC Turf. “We’re probably looking for the same (Turf) for Bright
Thought. We’ll see how he comes out of it, but he loves this turf course. It
was a great time (1:58.27), so we’ll see.”
After the Turf Classic trainer Chad Brown said that Big Blue Kitten
would head to
California, "I'd like to go [to
the Breeders' Cup Turf with Big Blue Kitten]. I would have liked to have seen a
stronger pace, and he had a little trouble turning for home, but not terrible.
I was a little disappointed he didn't kick that last eighth and catch up to the
top three, but all in all he wasn't beaten too far. If he's sound and well, I
would like to take a shot with him out at Santa Anita and hope for a stronger
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