In-Depth Look at the Breeders’ Cup Turf

Flintshire is one of the favorites to win the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf.

Flintshire is one of the favorites to win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The following horses comprise the field for the $4 Million Grade I Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf to be run at Santa Anita on Saturday, Nov. 5 (race 9) on the turf at 1 ½ miles.

Horses are listed by running style:

Early Speedsters

Ectot (GB)
He’s the most probable speed in a race that doesn’t set up to have a very brisk early pace. Although he only faced three other foes in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont last out, he did get out front and stay out in front of the others who are all expected to run in the B.C. Turf.

That tactic may be the same blueprint trainer Todd Pletcher uses here. His odds may be close to or slightly higher than the 9-1 that winning bettors got for him last out, although that race didn’t rate well for horses of this caliber.

Two back, he was a beaten odds-on favorite in a $62,000 optional claimer at Saratoga. Three back, he finished fourth in a non-graded stakes. You don’t win this race by being first at the half-mile or one-mile mark and I don’t think this one has the class to beat the others again here. Toss.

Ashleyluvssugar
This five year old gelding is by a sire (Game Plan) that commanded a $2,500 stud fee. Any payday on Breeders’ Cup Saturday will make Ashleyluvssugar an over-achieving millionaire — the dream of many a horse owner.

He can get to (or at least near to) the front and has won four times in seven tries on the Santa Anita lawn. He’s also registered two wins in as many tries at 12 furlongs on the turf — so, we have a “horse for the course” who can get on the engine, has the requisite class, (winning back-to-back Grade II races for the second time in his career) and can stay on until the end. He’s a major contender that may be overlooked at the betting windows. Play on top and in multi-race bets.

Early Runners/Pressers

Chad Brown

Chad Brown

Money Multiplier
One of Chad Brown’s two entries in this race, Money Multiplier has fared well, money-wise, in Grade I races, but has also won a $72k allowance race at Aqueduct, and a $62k optional claiming race at Saratoga this year.

His performance in the Grade I Sword Dancer, where the four year old ridgling finished a game second to “the other Brown,” Flintshire, was impressive, but, like the race-winner, it seemed to take a lot out of him. He came back to finish fourth of the four who ran the Hirsch Turf Classic.

Having zero wins in graded stakes, don’t rely on him to break that streak in the Breeders’ Cup. Maybe a horse to fill out exotics; no need to use in multi-race bets.

Pretty Perfect (IRE)
One of the quartet that trainer Aiden O’Brien will send to the gate, Pretty Perfect does like to get to the lead, but doesn’t have to. The three year old Galileo filly has a Group 3 win on her resume, has finished in the exacta five out of ten tries on the turf, and has won once at this distance in four attempts.

She may be sent out front early as a “rabbit” for O’Brien’s other charges, in which case she’ll be burned out before the final turn. She can’t get to the front and wire this field. Even if she were to stalk another pacesetter, it’s a tall order. Toss.

Stalkers

Highland Reel (IRE)
Possibly O’Brien’s best chance to win here, especially if he opts to run Found in the Classic. This four-year-old by Galileo has been the bridesmaid to two of Europe’s best racehorses in two of Europe’s biggest races.

He finished 1 ¾  lengths behind stablemate Found in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last out at 24-to-1, and  1 ¼ lengths behind world-class superstar Postponed in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York — both Group 1 events.

Although his odds won’t be as juicy here as in his last attempt, this is a serious horse who is a major contender to take this race by rating just off the pace and using a late kick that has helped him hit the exacta in five out of seven races at this distance. Use on top of exotics and in multi-race bets.

Erupt (IRE)
This will be the tenth time in thirteen career starts that Erupt will be trying the mile-and-a-half distance.

In his first North American start, we saw Erupt win the Grade I Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine, where he was overlooked at the betting windows, paying $26.30 to win.

The four-year-old excels when rating just off the pace and there’s no reason to believe he won’t do just that here. Erupt is sort of a wildcard in this race, but he’s probably used best at the back-end of exotic bets, and sparingly if at all in multi-race plays.

Versatile runners

Mondialiste (IRE)
Only Flintshire will probably go off at lower odds than Mondialiste. This year’s Arlington Million winner finished a disappointing fourth at Keeneland in the Shadwell Turf Mile as a prep for this race.

Although he finished a close second to Time Test in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes in July, he hasn’t competed well in his last three Group 1 outings, finishing 11th, seventh, and 12th.

He did finish second to Tepin is last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, but having never raced at Santa Anita, nor at this distance, Mondialiste is a “play against” for me. Taking a stand, and leaving him off of multi-race bets. If he beats me, he beats me.

Ulysses (IRE)
Another Galileo-sired runner in this race, this three-year-old colt has run six career races — and was held back to the rear of the field three times, started out mid-pack once and went to the lead twice. He was a beaten favorite being held to the rear of the field last out, and won a Group 3 race at this distance while being piloted in the same fashion two back.

He doesn’t have the class or resume to compete here. Toss.

Seventh Heaven (IRE)
A Galileo three-year-old filly that won not one, but two, Group 1 Oaks races (at the Curragh and York in July and August respectively) and who has won two of four tries at this distance has to be a factor here, right?

Most likely not. Although her wins against Europe’s best female turfers is impressive, she doesn’t have the foundation to spring the upset in her first start in North America (even though O’Brien’s ROI in that regard is very rewarding).

Will she make some noise? I’m in the “no” camp, and toss her from contention. Good horse; doesn’t fit.

Closers

metaboss

Metaboss

Da Big Hoss
He’s never tried the Santa Anita turf, but Da Big Hoss is comfortable with the distance, winning four times and finishing third once in six tries at 12 furlongs.

Da Big Hoss has won a dozen times in his career, but lucky number thirteen will take a forward move from his last three races, speed-figure-wise. Yes, he’s won four consecutive races, but none higher than a Grade III.

He’s a good hoss. He’s a big hoss. But he’s probably not going to win the B.C. Turf. Use in exotics.

Flintshire (GB)
The most-likely morning line and post-time favorite is Chad Brown’s Flintshire. If you know little about horse racing, you may at least know that Chad Brown is a very good trainer who excels with turf horses.

If Flintshire runs like he did in the Grade I Sword Dancer, playing with the field before exploding up the rail to blow by the competition in near-course record time, he’ll deserve every bit of the favoritism.

If that race took something out of him (and the poor speed figures next out in the Hirsch suggests that), then maybe there’s cause for concern. There are some “ifs”, but you cannot leave this horse off your tickets. He’s world-class and Brown should have him ready. Most likely winner.

Bet accordingly — on top in exotics and in multi-race bets. Not a “single,” but, if you’re being frugal in the pick-6, he’s your play.

Deep Closers

Found (IRE)
The reigning champ of the Longines B.C. Turf may opt for the Classic, but if she races here, she must be respected. All she’s done is hit the board in 19 of her 20 starts, won a Breeders’ Cup Championship and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

She’s coming off a second-place finish in the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes on Oct. 15 where she just couldn’t catch the winner Almanzor. No shame there.

Should she run here, the only question is her fitness — she’ll be taking on Grade I contenders going 1 ½ miles running her third race in 35 days — after shipping overseas.

I’m hoping she runs in the Classic, so she doesn’t muddle this race. Use her on top if she in fact runs here (and, obviously, boxed in exotics).

Twilight Eclipse
If one can take any single point from this overview of the Longines B.C. Turf field analysis, let it be this: trainer Tom Albertrani has a return of investment of $0.48 in 43 career graded stakes races. That is beyond low.

As for the horse, pun intended, it may be the twilight of his career. Thirty six races, eight wins, his last win being in allowance company at Belmont in July, no graded stakes wins in his last nine tries… the list goes on.

I’m giving Twilight Eclipse no shot here. He’s going to be shuffled to the back of the pack and be asked to catch and pass horses that are on the better side of their career arcs. Toss.

No disrespect to a $2 Million-plus earner, but the seven-year-old gelding has seen better days.

Metaboss
Full disclosure: I almost bought a piece of this horse as a three-year-old. Good thing I didn’t, because that “piece” wasn’t actually for sale… but that’s a story for another time.

Metaboss is owned by a conglomerate of various people — some of whom I know and love in the industry.

So it pains me to also disclose that it would take a miracle of miracles for Metaboss to win.

He doesn’t have the class to best these foes.

He does, however, have another gear late in races, one that he displayed very well in the Del Mar Handicap, where he nearly gunned-down Ashleyluvssugar at the wire, after seeing all of the field for most of the race. The problem is that he doesn’t always have it.

This tactic would work well if the early pace is hot, which is doubtful here. He would have to chase, catch and overtake some serious horseflesh to be crowned a Breeders’ Cup champion.

His best case scenario is for Pretty Perfect to get out to an early lead, while the frontrunners press a hot pace, causing a late pace meltdown, where horses like Flintshire, Highland Reel, Ashleyluvssugar and Da Big Hoss all tire, so Metaboss can pass them all in the final stretch.

Stranger things have not happened.

Play in the bottom of exotics, if at all.

Also-Eligibles

Texas Ryno
He’s won three, placed in two, and finished third once in eight starts on the Santa Anita turf. He’s also a back-of-the-pack runner. Not a contender.

Ralis
Although Ralis did win a Grade I race as a two-year-old, it was on dirt, as he was on the Kentucky Derby trail as a three-year-old. Now a turf horse, his speed figures don’t look to make him a contender here either. Also a “back of the pack” runner. Toss if entered.

Win the Space
This horse has two claims to fame:

1) He finished third behind California Chrome and Dortmund in the Awesome Again stakes.
2) He’s trained by the American trainer with the coolest name — George Papaprodomou.

Another back-of-the-pack also-eligible that is of no use to bettors.

My Top 3 Contenders

Flintshire

Ashleyluvssugar

Highland Reel

Ryan Dickey
Ryan Dickey is a full-time firefighter in Dearborn, MI, and a life-long horse racing fan. He is a handicapper and contributor to prominent horse racing Websites as well as a freelance sportswriter/photojournalist. He covers local high school sports and community events for multiple outlets, including bi-weekly newspapers and has over 200 works published to date.

Once again the owner of a race horse, Ryan is president (and currently sole member!) of Firehouse Racing Stables, LLC. This year @FirehouseRacing plans to send its first thoroughbred, That Is So Right (a 4 year old chestnut gelding), to run at tracks in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and, possibly, Indiana.

Having lived in Las Vegas for six years and working in the sports gaming industry, Ryan knows sports handicapping from “both sides of the counter.” Feel free to contact him on Twitter (@rdickey249) for questions, comments, criticisms, or critiques.