Stakes Preview – Saturday’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf

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Note: This is an excerpt from the TimeformUS analysis of ALL 13 Breeders’ Cup races. Each race is evaluated horse-by-horse, and we designate the most likely winner and a possible wagering strategy to pursue. To get the full analysis e-mailed to you tonight, buy the TimeformUS Breeders’ Cup Package:

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>Santa Anita/ November 1 / Race 9 / 3:22 PDT

Most Likely Winner: Flintshire

Euro-power seems likely to rule the day in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, with a pair of well-connected and talented colts in Telescope and Flintshire arriving to challenge an average-looking group of stateside runners. With the late defection of defending champ Magician, the pair of Imagining and Hardest Core could have the early advantage, but the strong duo of Telescope and Flintshire, while not included in our Pace Projector (due to a lack of data) are handy types who don’t figure to be terribly compromised.

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Here’s the field, in post position order and with the ML odds in parentheses.

#1 is Telescope (4/1). Capable of huge performances (if you haven’t already, check out his comprehensive dismantling of the Hardwicke Stakes back in June), he is not yet successful at the Group 1 level. He has given his very best in tough spots in his last two efforts, but was left wanting at the end. Sporting a Timeform Master Rating of 129, he is the more fancied of the two top European contenders by Timeform Chief Correspondent Jamie Lynch, who has made him a top play for the weekend–an endorsement to take very seriously. With his tactical speed and stalking style, he does figure to adapt to American racing, and his world-class trainer knows something about which horses can do well here, having already won this race four times. Projects for the right trip from this post under Ryan Moore. and that may make all the difference. Also note: He adds Lasix.

#2 is Twilight Eclipse (12/1). Tactically inclined gelding has been so very close to taking down three straight Grade 1 races this year. As it stands, he has come up just short each time, and done so without excuse. Capable of pulling the right trip from a good draw, but he is a slight cut below the ones he’s been facing over here, and a decided cut below the Europeans.

#3 is Imagining (12/1). Typical runner from the Phipps/Shug mold, he has improved with age and experience to become a Grade 1 winner at the age of six. He has the speed to be a forward factor throughout, and the more modest the early fractions, the more dangerous he becomes. He has been bested by Main Sequence in each of his last two starts, but he was forced to do all the heavy lifting going fast early in those races. That may not be the case today, but Main Sequence isn’t the horse to beat today, either.

#4 is Brown Panther (8/1). Forced to scratch from the Canadian International after running off pre-race, he has been re-routed to this much tougher spot. Has been better than ever (Timeform Master Rating of 123) over marathon distances this season, while putting his stamina to good use. Jamie Lynch believes he may be ridden aggressively  in this “shorter” race, which makes sense to us and could give him his best chance.

#5 is Hangover Kid (30/1). Likable NY-bred has made the most of what he has, but he is not close to more than a few of these on ability.

#6 is Finnegans Wake (30/1). Got in a spin over this turf course when second most recently in a Grade 2 event, which is all well and good, but he is in over his head vs. this kind of competition.

#7 is Flintshire (7/2). Slight ML choice over Telescope, based mostly on his runner-up effort to the amazing Treve four weeks ago. Not much to choose from between him and Telescope, though Flintshire has tasted Group 1 success in the past. He clearly does not run to his best over soft ground, so his overall record of 3 wins in 10 tries is a bit misleading. All three runner-up efforts this year, to Treve, to Ruler of the World, and to Cirrus des Aigles, were excellent efforts, and if he runs back to that Arc placing here, he will likely be too much for this group. We’ll give him slight preference over his main rival, and will be unsurprised if he goes off a bit longer than his morning line odds.

#8 is Magician (SCR). Defending champ was withdrawn after coming up lame on Wednesday.

#9 is Hardest Core (10/1). No better story going on in North American racing than the one surrounding this horse, who is now 3-3 on the year after posting a surprising upset of, among others, Magician in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. He projects to be part of the pace in this race, but even a repeat of his greatest success in Chicago is unlikely to be enough.

#10 is Starspangled Heat (30/1). All are welcome at the Breeders’ Cup, but this Cal-bred has been entered into the wrong race.

#11 is Chicquita (8/1). If you haven’t purchased the TimeformUS Breeders’ Cup package, then you don’t have Jamie Lynch’s evaluation of the European shippers, and you are missing out, never more so than with the look at this filly. Master Rating of 117, with the “rogue’s badge” denoting a temperamental horse. Lasix goes on, but her antics are clearly exhibited in her running lines, and she can afford no such mistakes in this race.

#12 is Main Sequence (6/1). Has made some serious hay since arriving stateside, taking down a trio of Grade 1s, while taking the number of Twilight Eclipse repeatedly. A chronic slow starter, he has displayed an electrifying late kick in posting those wins, though he has had the right pace set-up each time, and he comes up a little slow in the face of the classier Euros. Up against it from a pace perspective, he is unlikely to be kicking down runners like Telescope and Flintshire through the stretch on Saturday.

#13 is Big John B (20/1). Added a nice Grade 2 win to his resume after arriving in California, but could subsequently do no better than 3rd as the favorite in his prep for this. Doesn’t figure to struggle with the distance, but he will with the competition.

The Play: It going to be interesting to see how things play out between Telescope and Flintshire, a pair of supremely talented colts. We’re siding with Flintshire but will cover both in multi-race wagers.

 

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