Having made cases for a couple of North American runners in the turf races on the Saturday card so far, it’s a case of normal service will be resumed here.
HIGHLAND REEL (3) has had another solid year of achievement and is a credit to his connections. He was presented with this race last year. All the other jocks appeared to think he was there to make the race for his apparently more illustrious stablemate Found. Seamie Heffernan galloped his mount through even 12 second furlongs and, having let this talented runner get over six lengths ahead after a mile, the closers couldn’t get to him in the lane. Will the riders this year allow him the same luxury this time around? I doubt it. He could still be classy enough to take it, will appreciate a return to firm ground and, although it won’t be as easy in 2017, he has more going for him than agin’ him.
Ulysees (5) will have his supporters on the back of a season where he showed definite improvement and he could still be capable of further. Last time out, in the Arc, he was a respectful distance behind Enabled – but that applies to a number of other top-ranking performers. His three wins this year have come over 10 furlongs and in his two defeats over this trip, he gave the impression that he didn’t get home.
Roger Charlton made an interesting decision to make this race the target for Decorated Knight (4) rather than the Mile. He’s had another accomplished year winning half his eight starts in three countries and they have included three at the top level. He closed well last time after sitting off a strong pace in The Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes going ten furlongs. Even if he stays, he is not guaranteed to get by Highland Reel at that lad’s trip.
The other Euros, Talismanic (1), Cliffs of Moher (6) and Seventh Heaven (9) look to be up against it.
The locals trying to keep another turf prize at home are headed by Grade 1 Arlington Million and Grade 1 Turf Classic winner Beach Patrol. He looks clearly the best of the North American contingent and his last run was the best of his career to date.
More of the puzzle is Bullards Alley (2) who showed an almost unbelievable improvement in form when winning The Group 1 Canadian International at Woodbine by over ten lengths at odds of 43-1! The local speed figure compilers make him the best of the locals on that one run and if he can replicate that effort, he’ll be very competitive.
The other North American worth a mention is Oscar Performance (14). He won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and won a couple of Grade 1 turf races in summer against his own age group. Last time out he took on his elders for the first time and came up short behind Beach Patrol in The Grade 1 Turf Classic. This is an even more difficult assignment.
Selection: HIGHLAND REEL (3)
Exotic Play: (No Exotics)