2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf: Possible Runners

2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf: Possible Runners
Photo: Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse Sportswire


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.

Flintshire last ran in the Prix Foy (G1) in France for trainer Andre Fabre on Sept. 14. Fabre is a two-time Turf winner.

Magician is the 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.

Telescope, who 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."

Hardest Core 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 earned 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 pace.”
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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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