For two days every year, European eyes are cast across the Atlantic as the US of A put on two fantastic cards of racing.
Ok, ok, Friday’s action may well be an amuse bouche for Saturday’s super-size main course, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it just as much.
Despite a rather underwhelming European challenge to this year’s Breeders’ Cup party, Friday sees a couple of major chances, including Lancaster Bomber in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Aidan O’Brien’s number one participant in the race appears to be Intelligence Cross, who has twice finished credibly behind the impressive Mehmas, before being rather tentatively handled when running on well in the Middle Park Stakes last time out.
He has the added bonus of Ryan Moore in the plate and it is obvious to see why he will undoubtedly prove popular. However the performance of his stablemate, Lancaster Bomber, last time out, mean it is hard to ignore his glaring chances from stall one.
After underperforming on softer surfaces he was given what looked to be a ‘pacemaking’ role on his last two starts. On a quick surface, he has battled on well after coming under pressure finishing nine-lengths behind Classic favourite, Churchill, before closing the gap to just one-and-a-quarter lengths at Newmarket.
He was sent off at 66/1 in the Dewhurst, after being expected to ensure a fair pace before falling back through the field. As expected, he came under pressure a fair way out as the strong-travelling Churchill moved past him. However, as he looked set to trickle back tamely, he changed gears and stayed on well to retake second and close on the eventual impressive winner, finishing eye-catchingly well.
Rivet, who was back in fifth, has since come out and franked the form by winning the Racing Post Trophy and it may well turn out to be a very strong race.
Lancaster Bomber steps up to a mile at Santa Anita and this should be perfect. Stall one could be a blessing as it now gives Seamie Heffernan added emphasis to pop him out and make the running. He will be a hard horse to pass if he can kick off the bend and at 7/1, he looks fair value to even make the frame.
Elsewhere on the opening evening, La Coronel could be worth a second look in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf. The European raiders are to the fore in the market but the manner in with the American filly picked up to win on her last two starts was very impressive.
If she hadn’t have underwhelmed during her first two starts (still not terrible runs) she could be shorter. A draw of 14 is far from ideal however, but it’s not impossible to overcome as Hit It A Bomb showed last year. Expect her to strike late and at 9/1, she could go well.
1.5pt win – Lancaster Bomber (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf) @ 7/1 (Various)
0.5pt win – La Coronel (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf) @ 9/1 (Various)