Anyone with a runner or lucky enough to be involved with a horse in anyway at the Breeders’ Cup this weekend is in for a treat.
Del Mar is a wonderful racecourse. It’s in an unbelievable part of the world and, combined with some fantastic horses from Europe and the USA, is going to host some terrific racing.
I’d love to be there myself but have been promoting my new autobiography Form. I’ll be watching the racing closely though and enjoying every minute of it.
I think the locals have the upper hand at the Breeders’ Cup this year as any horse and jockey who knows Del Mar is going to have an advantage due to its configuration.
It’s tight. In fact, it’s a really tight. You couldn’t really compare it to somewhere like Chester, which is more like a 50p piece. Instead, it’s two-turn course where they race close in and the grass track isn’t very wide at all. But ultimately if you have the speed and a good horse that will help no end.
The local California jockeys and trainers are going to be very strong. Jockey Mike Smith is the best in the business and I’d be following whatever he rides very closely.
The best chances for the Europeans to do well are in the turf races. Our turf horses are always so much better than the North Americans, especially if they have had a little bit of Lasix.
Those horses will really have an edge on the competition.
Having said that, I expect Lady Aurelia to have too much speed for Marsha and the others in the Turf Sprint (7.37). Johnny Velazquez is back on board, which I like. That’s not to be negative about Frankie Dettori, but I was very impressed with how Johnny rode her at Ascot. He chose exactly the right time to hit ‘go’ and she couldn’t have put the race to bed any better. Plus Lady Aurelia doesn’t have to travel this time.
Marsha can flop out of the gates and if she does that here she’s got no chance. On the plus side, the gates are bigger in America but she’ll have to be used to the alarm that rings as they open. Nine times out of ten it will frighten horses who are not used to it, so I hope they’ve done some work with her on that.
I’m a big fan of Ribchester and Roly Poly in the Mile (10.19) but there are a couple others who interest me in the race. One is Om, who’s well drawn and ridden by a talented jockey in Drayden Van Dyke.
The other to catch my eye is World Approval. His trainer Mark Casse, who won the Queen Anne with Tepin, has worked his way down from Canada and is now very, very successful all over America. He’s a great guy and a great trainer, plus he’s got Johnny Velazquez to ride and his horse is well drawn.
A good ride can make all the different around the tight turf courses in the USA, such as the one Seamie Heffernan gave Highland Reel in the Turf last year. It was unbelievable! I can’t imagine what the other jockeys were thinking. You wouldn’t let a rabbit go off like that and they let a Group 1 horse go off like that!
I think Seamie rides the horse best, so I would be against him in the race this year (11.37). I love Decorated Knight and Ulysses, and it’s the latter I like in this race. He’s got a good draw and Stoutey’s a master with his horses at the Breeders’ Cup.
Talking of master trainers, they don’t come much better than Bob Baffert. He is simply a genius and on the same level as someone like Bobby Frankel.
If Arrogate comes back to his best he wins the Classic (12.35am). Favourite Gun Runner done nothing wrong but Arrogate’s jockey Smith rides the track better than anyone else.