Here we go again! Yes, the Breeders' Cup, the meeting that truly crowns champions, gets underway on Friday before the climax that is the Breeders' Cup Classic Saturday. And remember, the only place you will see every single race live on TV in the UK is on Sky Sports Racing.
Although back home we chat most about the Mile and Turf, Stateside, the Classic is without doubt the big deal. Like, it's the biggest deal! That said, this year’s Classic is a wide-open affair with no obvious US star.
As always there is a strong European challenge, although one lessened by the defection of leading hope Magical. Still, we have Circus Maximus to go to war with and many others, so let’s have a look at the raiding party.
Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November.
BAND PRACTICE (Archie Watson)
Won her last three starts, including a Listed event at Chantilly last time. Has a good front-running style for this track but it would be surprised if she was good enough.
DREAM SHOT (James Tate)
Exposed after eight runs, but fine effort behind re-opposing Dr Simpson when second at Dundalk last time. Prior to that beaten by A’Ali in the Group 2 Flying Childers at Doncaster. Form suggests one or two will be superior.
ALLIGATOR ALLEY (Joseph O’Brien)
Well beaten in the Flying Childers when a hot favourite, but prior to that had landed a Listed race at York in good style. Better than the Doncaster runs suggests and if that is forgiven not without a squeak.
O’Brien said: “He goes for the Juvenile Sprint and he's done nothing but improve all year. We're happy with him and hopefully he can run well.”
DR SIMPSON (Richard Kingscote)
Looked exposed at this type of level until scoring well at Dundalk last time when beating Dream Shot. Just about made all that day and will have to break well from stall 8 to repeat the dose. Having a ninth run.
A’ALI (Simon Crisford)
Looks the classiest of the European challengers and banged in the Flying Childers at Doncaster last time after being beaten in a decent Morny in France over 6f. Prior to that had scored well at Deauville and the ground will be a big plus here. Strong claims although poor draw.
KING NEPTUNE (Aidan O’Brien)
Scored at Dundalk first time but then beaten in eight next races. Obviously comes from a strong stable but a major surprise to me if he is good enough. That said, being by War Front will enjoy some fast ground.
LIVING IN THE PAST (Karl Burke)
Fifth in the Group 1 Cheveley Park at Newmarket last time having landed the Group 2 Lowther at York. That’s classy European turf form and from an inside box has every chance if getting out well.
SHADN (Andrew Balding)
Won a Group 2 in France last time having been third in the Group 2 Mill Reef at Newbury the time before. That recent form suggests she is still improving and as a tough sort can’t be totally ignored.
DAAHYEH (Roger Varian)
Very consistent. Big win in the Group 2 Rockfel at Newmarket when last seen having chased home Love in the Group 1 Moyglare at the Curragh the time before. Should stay and has strong claims.
UNFORGETABLE (Joseph O’Brien)
Well beaten since winning over 6f at Fairyhouse in July and on what we know she needs to improve massively for the step up to 1m.
TANGO (Aidan O’Brien)
Managed to win a Listed race at the Curragh last time but she had been beaten in five previous starts after her Navan success in June. Lots to do here.
ALBIGNA (Jessica Harrington)
No doubt the form choice, after her strong staying win in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp last time. She certain to relish this distance at this track and looks to have lots of quality for an owner in the Niarchos Family that loves this fixture. Only the draw dents confidence. Related to a Breeders’ Cup winner in Domedriver.
Harrington said: “Albigna has come out of ParisLongchamp in great form and put on plenty of weight, so we’re going to strike while the iron is hot. The Niarchos family [owners] are huge fans of the Breeders’ Cup and it will be my first runner at the meeting, so it is very exciting.
“I’m not quite sure of the form of the American fillies, but Albigna showed she is one of the best over here and she was brilliant in the Marcel Boussac. She stayed on really well in that race, but showed earlier in the year that she has a turn of foot and can handle quicker ground when she won the G2 Airlie Stud Stakes.”
ETOILE (Aidan O’Brien)
Only raced twice, and made a wining debut at Naas. However, flopped badly when an 8/1 chance at Newmarket when last seen and hard to know what to expect here.
ARIZONA (Aidan O’Brien)
Poor draw, but classy form. Landed the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in fine style before a fourth in the Morny, a third behind Pinatubo in the National Stakes in Ireland and then second when chasing home the same horse in the Dewhurst. That might well be good enough to win.
FORT MYERS (Aidan O’Brien)
Like his stable companion poorly drawn. Picked up a Listed event at Dundalk last time, having been well beaten in the Champagne at Doncaster. Likes to front run, and might be in a good position to drag the pace forward out wide for Arizona. That said, European horses often start slowly here.
AMBASSADORIAL (Jane Chapple-Hyam)
Takes on Omaha Beach which will be hard, especially after finishing last of three at Chelmsford on latest outing. Needs a miracle.
IRIDESSA (Joseph O’Brien)
Smart filly, and finished third behind Billesdon Brook when last seen in the Sun Chariot at Newmarket. Prior to that had landed the Group 1 Matron at Leopardstown. Super tough so each-way chance.
O’Brien said: “She has gone over there in great shape. She's done very well this year and has run consistently well in top company. She'll love the quick ground out there but I'm not sure about the tight track – she won't have experienced anything like that before. It looks like it’s going to be a competitive race but we're quite hopeful about her chances. Wayne Lordan knows her well and he takes the ride.”
FLEETING (Aidan O’Brien)
Deserves to land a big one. Looked very unlucky at Ascot the other day when fourth behind Star Catcher when not getting a clear run. Hasn’t actually won a race since September 2018, but runs since then include a third behind Anapurna in the Oaks. Every chance with luck.
BILLESDON BROOK (Richard Hannon)
Landed the 1000 Guineas in 2018 at huge odds and showed that was no fluke by scoring in the Group 1 Sun Chariot last time. Will have to be ridden chilly by the excellent Sean Levey, but if they go hard and the gaps come, she has every chance of finishing off strongly.
Hannon said: "Owner Jeanette McCreery loves having a go at these big races and there is nothing to lose but everything to gain by running her. When she is in form she is an extremely good filly – she was always going to win the Sun Chariot last time when Sean Levey was brilliant on her yet again. When you think of her you think of him. They're an item.
"I think because they are going around two bends, they can only go so fast, which will give her more of a chance of getting the mile and a quarter, although I thought she stayed the trip as a three-year-old anyway.”
CASTLE LADY (H-A Pantall)
Started off career with three straight wins, but then was beaten at Ascot and Keeneland, although the latter second was in Group 1 company behind useful Cambier Park. Will probably find a few too good but not impossible.
VILLA MARINA (Carlos Laffon-Parias)
Landed the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera last time at Longchamp by a short neck from Fleeting, who goes again. Looked lucky to hold off the runner-up then, but unlike Fleeting has a winning habit having taken three of her last four starts. Improving and a good chance although drawn a little wide.
JUST WONDERFUL (Aidan O’Brien)
Run lots of times this season without winning and while she has talent would be a shock scorer for me.
FANNY LOGAN (John Gosden)
Improving fast and rattled up a four-timer at Yarmouth last time when defeating Queen by a length in a Group 3 at Newmarket. Draw has been very harsh so has work cut out now up to Group 1 level.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS (Aidan O’Brien)
Remarkable Group 1 winner, who looked like a stayer at Chester in May, but who has since landed the Group 1 Prix du Moulin and St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot having finished sixth in the Derby! Draw on the inside is a huge worry if he is slowly away.
O’Brien said: "Circus Maximus is an intended runner in the Mile. We've been happy with him since his win at Longchamp."
SPACE TRAVELLER (Richard Fahey)
Unlikely to be good enough, but did well to score in a Group 2 at Leopardstown last time. Also landed the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, although disappointed in two starts afterwards. Cleary talented but might find one or two too strong.
SUEDOIS (David O’Meara)
A consistent performer for many years and defied long odds when third at Keeneland last time behind Bowies Hero. Fourth in this race behind World Approval at Del Mar two years ago. Hard to believe he can win at the age of eight.
LORD GLITTERS (David O’Meara)
Queen Anne winner at Royal Ascot, but poor at that course on British Champions Day when never in the hunt behind King Of Change. Ground likely to be faster than ideal and hard to think he is good enough despite that big success in June.
TRAIS FLUORS (Ken Condon)
Big outsider here having been beaten in France recently in average events. If he can’t win Group 3s in Europe how can he score here?
HEY GAMAN (James Tate)
Got some good form in the book including a second in the French 2000 Guineas. Was also a fine second in the Lennox at Glorious Goodwood. Might run better than odds suggest but should not be able to win.
ANTHONY VAN DYCK (Aidan O’Brien)
Won what was probably a poor Derby at Epsom and then was beaten in the Irish equivalent. Flopped at Ascot after that, but was not disgraced over 10f in the Irish Champion Stakes when third behind Magical. Obviously, he has a chance, and he has a perfect draw, but whether he’s quick enough we will have to wait and see. Will like the ground.
OLD PERSIAN (Charlie Appleby)
Better than ever, and won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine last time. Seventh in the Coronation Cup was a poor effort, but stays well and is talented. Hard to keep out the first three.
MOUNT EVEREST (Aidan O’Brien)
Dam Six Perfections won the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Mile here. Decent enough winner at Leopardstown last time, but this is far harder and would be a surprise scorer.
ALOUNAK (Waldemar Hickst)
Finished second in the Grade 1 Canadian International last time which gives him an each-way chance. However, the winner of that race Desert Encounter would not be good enough to trouble the best of these.