LAST YEAR'S WINNER - HIGHLAND REEL
- Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
- Jockey: Seamie Heffernan
- Owner: Derrick Smith & Mrs John Magnier & Michael Tabor
- Odds: 7/2
- Betting Stats
- Favourites: 2/8 (25.0%) | Level stake loss -40.0%
- Odds on Favs: 1/1 (100.0%) | Level stake profit +90.0%
- Median winning price: 5.8/1
As could be expected, this is one of the main targets for European trainers and the record of runners from this side of the Atlantic has been a pretty good.
How has the favourite fared?
Five of eight winners in the last twenty years in California have gone off in first three in the betting but just two of them have taken the winner’s share. All bar one of the jollies has finished in the first four.
Run record and class clues
Aiden O’Brien has claimed three winners of this to Sir Michael Stoute’s two with US-based trainers (including ex-pat Graham Motion) taking the balance. Interestingly Motion’s winner, Main Sequence, had previously been trained over here by David Lanigan.
This is another division where every single winner came into the race with at least one Grade or Group 1 winner on their record. Three of them had won their immediate prep and four others had finished in the first four. This division remains the only one to have a dead heat on its honour roll when High Chaparral and Johar couldn’t be split in 2003 and it is the only one with a repeat winner, Conduit in 2008 and 2009.
Highland Reel bucked the trend last year when making every post a winning one under a masterful ride front-running ride from Seamie Heffernan. However, six of the other winners have been nearer last that first early on which is a more usual run pattern for the Turf. The winning distance last year of 1¾ lengths was the biggest in the last 20 years in the Golden State and on six occasions the margin at the wire have been ¾ length or less.
Five of the nine names on the honours’ board (seven outright winners and two dead heaters) were four-year-olds in their year of success and the other four were made up of a pair of threes and a couple of fives.
The last three winners all broke from the outside of the starting gate on the Santa Anita turf course which features a downhill run and a sweeping turn onto the main circuit. However, post position per se hasn’t had a major impact on the outcome of the Turf, although some contestants have managed to find trouble in running.
- The European challenge is usually strong but it’s not always the ‘obvious’ one who prevails, particularly if arriving off a tough race.
- Class matters, discount runners with no G1 success on their record.
- Due to the tight track, late charging closers usually thrive.
- Despite the tight track the draw has minimal impact.