IT'S Breeders' Cup day 2020 people. Yeeehaaa with bells on!
I'm usually Stateside for the huge extravaganza, slavishly penning this column while feverishly chasing Breeders' Cup news for Sky Sports Racing.
Of course the world is now a different place – travelling across the Atlantic was not an option – and while frustrated there's not a bit of me feeling sorry for myself with many suffering devastating and life-taking Covid-19 blows.
So tonight's Breeders' Cup at Keeneland will just have to try and struggle along without me!
To be honest for a European broadcaster Lexington in Kentucky is nothing like the joy of Santa Anita or Del Mar, essentially due to the often miserable climate which is more Bognor-like than California.
That said, I can't tell you how much i miss the razzmatazz involved with the whole shabang and the chance to mix with some of the world's great racing stars.
I know it's hard for Euro watchers to grasp, because most of us crave to see the Breeders' Cup Mile and Turf, but the Classic really is the be all and end all, with the other races merely horse d'oeuvres to the main dish.
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Indeed, some sniff at dirt racing, but I’m telling you when you are next to a Classic field the speed and sound is something super sexy and a massive adrenaline rush.
This evening’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic is the classic of all classics, gifting strength in depth, wide open betting and quality. Arguably it's the best Flat horse race of the year.
Tiz The Law is a monster for me, and he looked huge when slamming Dr Post in the Belmont Stakes back in June. After that, Tiz The Law took the prestigious Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga before being denied by Authentic in the Kentucky Derby when getting hooked up with early speed. Barclay Tagg’s star is a proper horse.
The opposition, though, is severe and headed by the Bob Baffert pair of not only Authentic but also Improbable, who is on a four-timer and stuffed the re-opposing star Maximum Security in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita in September.
Throw in Tom's D’Etat, not far behind Improbable in the Grade 1 Whitney, and Be My Standards who was second in that event and you have a field of 10 that just oozes excitement. Enjoy a great race.
European interest is strong in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and many will cheer Magical home for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. Magical is just a superb mare, and of course in 2018 chased home Enable in the Turf at Churchill Downs. O’Brien has had a torrid few weeks and the Irish Champion Stakes heroine has every chance.
That said, Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa keeps getting better and better and was fabulous in the l’Opera at Longchamp, while Magical’s stable companion Mogul is bang in form but must overcome a poor draw. It will be disappointing if one of those does not score.
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Many eyes will be on the 2000 Guineas hero Kameko who has the advantage of a fine draw in stall two for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Champion jockey Oisin Murphy remains on board and the son of Kitten’s Joy was bang back to his best at Newmarket last time.
Of Kameko’s rivals, Irish 2000 Guineas victor Siskin tries to re-find a finishing kick for Ger Lyons. That said, I'm not sure his Classic form is that strong and there are some decent locals in here like Uni, who is handled by the brilliant Chad Brown and is the defending champion.
I also think Raging Bull will be staying on well at the death, and he’s another for Brown, although he must overcome a nasty draw.
Rather strangely – mainly because Magical and Tarnawa are in the Turf – the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf might be hard for the raiders.
The name here to look out for is Rushing Fall, on a four-timer for Brown and a battling winner of the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga over nine furlongs when staying on powerfully.
I must just also give a shout for the Breeders' Cup Distaff, in which Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver go head-to-head. The former could have a movie made about her, and it is quite extraordinary that Florent Geroux's mount missed all of 2019 but has come back this term for three wins. She is a superstar win, lose or draw.
The Breeders’ Cup is in my heart. I love it. I hope by the close of play Saturday night you all do as well.
PS: Well done on being champion jockey again Oisin Murphy! A class act.
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