With Santa Anita now looking like the soon-to-be permanent home of the Breeders Cup, international punters should start to study its characteristics. Santa Anita is very much a speed track with tight turns.  The oval dirt track is one mile round with a run-in of only 330 yards (1 1/2f; 300m); the inner turf course is about seven furlongs around, though races over six and a half furlongs, a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half start on a chute which runs downhill; turns sharply right to run parallel to the dirt track on its outside from 4 1/f furlongs out; and crosses the dirt track about 2f from home.

The weather is expected to be perfect; the dirt track should ride fast and the turf track firm.

BREEDERS CUP JUVENILE TURF [G1; 2yo(c&g); 1m(turf); 4.25pmJaTime]

The starting point in BC turf races is always the European entries of which Aidan O’Brien has 2 and Simon Crisford one. Crisford’s Rodaini won 4 on the trot before flopping in the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket (stepped up to a mile) but he had plenty go against him that day and it’s a run to totally ignore. Still, he has something to prove in Grade 1 and has a very bad draw. Of the O’Brien duo, Lancaster Bomber secured the plum draw but his Dewhurst Stakes 2nd may be best ignored as, at 66/1, he had the run of the race on seemingly the best part of the track. Before this his sole success saw him scrambling home by a head from True Valour in a Leopardstown maiden. If this race is to go to Europe, likeliest candidate is #8 INTELLIGENCE CROSS, bred to be suited by a mile although raced exclusively at 6f; reunited with Ryan Moore; and a creditable staying on 4th (by 3 1/2l) to The Last Lion in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

He’s sure to stay at least 7f and this sharp mile will be right up his street. Very smart and improving Americans #11 Good Samaritan [unbeaten in 2 career starts; visually impressive at Woodbine latest (Grade 2 Summer Stakes) but ships from the East Coast and seems more of a long term Kentucky Derby prospect] and #5 Made You Look [very impressive stepping up to 8.5f on last and producing an under 23.0 final qtr to win] should give the selection most to do.



BREEDERS CUP DIRT MILE [Grade 1; 3yo+; 1m (dirt); 5.05pm Ja Time]

It’s difficult to look beyond #3 DORTMUND (BANKER BET) who gets away from California Chrome for the first time this year and who proved better than ever on October 1 when 2l 2nd to that one in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes over 9f at Santa Anita.

He was 6 for 6 life time before running in last year’s Kentucky Derby since which time he has been beaten twice by American Pharoah and last three times out by Chrome. He won his other two races so he is undefeated by any horse but Pharoah and Chrome.

#7 Run Happy could ensure a fast early pace which would suit closers #6 Texas Chrome; #8 Tamarkuz: and #9 Gun Runner but only for 2nd money.



JUVENILE FILLIES TURF [Grade 1; 2yof; 1 mile(Turf); 5.50pm Ja Time]

Once again the Europeans send a formidable contingent headed by the O’Brien family. Pop Aidan sends #1 Hydrangea [2 1/4l 2nd in the Group 1 Fillies Mile; desperately unlucky to be headed on the line when sh 2nd to #7 Intricately (re-opposes here; 1st Breeders Cup entry from Joseph O’Brien as a trainer and ridden by his baby brother Donnacha) and #13 Roly Poly [the mount of Ryan Moore; another progeny of War Front who has raced exclusively in sprints but shaped like being suited by a mile].

Hydrangea and Intricately are quality fillies but may prove uncomfortable on firm ground so the Europeans will have to depend on the great Ryan Moore to negotiate a win from the #13 hole on Roly Poly.  That could prove difficult as, in French import #4 SPAIN BURG (NAP) the Americans have a classy filly who punched her ticket to this race with an impressive win over Fair Eva in the Rockfel showing off a strong turn of foot.  That didn’t look flukish at all and she could hand tough-as-nails trainer Kathy Ritvo, who survived a heart transplant and doesn’t usually get juveniles as good as this one, a real fairy tale ending.  Frankie Dettori rides and tries for his 12th Breeders Cup win.



BREEDERS CUP DISTAFF [Group 1; fillies/mares; 9f; dirt; 6.35pm Ja Time)

#1 Songbird is a super 3yo filly undefeated in 11 lifetime starts whose plum draw will help her get the drop on a tactically sharp field. To make it worse, she has won 5 times around Santa Anita and gets Mike Smith who has won this race 5 times.  But this is her first run against older horses and she faces the best of the best. She will NOT be given any easy lead and will have to run every inch of this 1800m trip.

She’s sure to be at skinny odds so it could pay to take a shot in the dark at opposing her in what is truly a terrific field with the likes of #3 Curalina; #5 Stellar Wind and #8 BEHOLDER.

Curalina (John Velasquez for Todd Pletcher) is sorely tempting at double digit odds due to her marked improvement in 2016 but her career best effort came in sloppy conditions at Saratoga on her penultimate run and this is her Santa Anita DEBUT so she is reluctantly passed over except for the trifecta.

Stellar Wind and BEHOLDER have had some recent scorchers with the latter winning by 1 1/2l over a mile here (gave 2 lbs as well) before Stellar Wind improved again stepping up to 8.5f to win twice by 1/2l (rec’d 2 lbs again) and a nk (level weights).  In between those races BEHOLDER (rec’d 5lbs) was 5l 2nd to California Chrome in the 10f Grade 1 Pacific Classic (Dortmund 2 1/4l further back in 3rd).

Both will be well suited by 9f (BEHOLDER, by Henny Hughes out of a Tricky Creek mare, won this race when it was last run at Santa Anita while Stellar Wind, by Curlin out of a Malibu Moon mare, was staying on neck 2nd in the Distaff at Keeneland last year after being bumped). I expect a humdinger of a stretch run between these great ladies but the experience and superior stamina of BEHOLDER  and the skill of living legend Gary Stevens should make the difference.


Good Luck!



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