Breeders' Cup: Everything you need to know for the 2018 edition at Churchill Downs
With just over a week until this year's renewal of the prestigious Breeders' Cup in the US, we caught up with Sean O'Sullivan from the Betfair trading team for the full lowdown on the meeting...
"I cant look past Chad Brown's Newspaperofrecord as the bet of the meeting in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. I'm hoping some of the European raiders will inflate her price but regardless there are very little holes you can pick in her form."
What can we expect from the Churchill Downs track?
The Breeders Cup returns to Churchill Downs for the first time since 2011, but racing fans should be familiar enough with the track from the annual Kentucky Derby and viewers of this year should have one overwhelming memory. It didn't just rain but it lashed down for the entirety of the weekend. This is common in Louisville and already the forecast has put up rain for the Friday and Saturday of this year's meeting. Expect those sunny clear Californian skies and car park turf tracks we have had for the last few years to be replaced by overcast, rain-softened turf and possibly sloppy dirt tracks.
And are there any jockeys to keep onside?
As usual the big hitters' agents have been hard at work to secure the best set of rides for the likes of Mike Smith, Javier Castallano, Joel Rosario and John Velazquez AKA 'Johnny V' and as usual they'll have plenty of good stock to go to war with. One that I'm keen to see though is Drayden van Dyke from California. This year he seems to have blossomed to become to become to Mike Smith what Paul Townend is to Ruby Walsh. He's had limited opportunities to showcase himself at the top level but will pick up some very nice spares that Mike isn't riding, as well as a few very competitive horses from other trainers. And most importantly he'll have a chip on his shoulder to prove that he's up to riding at the highest level
Who are the home equine stars we should look forward to seeing?
Of the Juveniles Game Winner hasn't put a foot wrong for Baffert/Smith and will be a very warm order on the Dirt. Being honest I don't think there's anything Europe can send that will get near Newspaperofrecord in the Juvenile Fillies Turf - she looks an absolute superstar in the making and is one of the horses I'm looking forward to seeing most at the meeting.
The Classic looks wide open for the first time in a good while but if there is to be a superstar in the ranks I think it could be Mckinzie. He was the forgotten Baffert three-year-old as Justify romped to the Triple Crown but this fella looked top class in his own right and seems to have returned from injury better than ever.
Will Roaring Lion show his best form on Dirt?
In my opinion: NO. While he's American-bred his sire is predominantly a turf performer and its mostly turf form on the Dam side, too. Add in the fact that this will be his ninth run of the season and only two weeks since a tough run at Ascot on ground he hated and the case against him really starts to build up. It would be a sensational achievement from horse, trainer and jockey but I was put off with trainer John Gosden's immediate comments post QEII where he stated he'd probably go straight to stud; suggesting it is the owner who made the call to run here. You can only admire them for running but this looks one throw of the dice too many and if his price continues to shorten with UK market momentum I'll be looking to place lay him and oppose in match bets
What do you make of the European raiding party this year?
Has to rank as one of the strongest ever with the likes of Enable, Polydream, Wild Illusion and the usual strong turf Juveniles meaning they should be more than able to hold their own. The possibility of rain-softened turf should also inconvenience the Europeans less than the Americans. Enable will bid to become the first Arc winner to follow up in the turf but should have few problems given that this will only be her third start of the year. The Mile is also stacked but given no UK/Irish trained horse has won the race since 1995 it may be best to rely on the French here and Filly and Mare Division looks weak enough from home side with the exception of ex-French trained Sistercharlie.
The best bet of the meeting?
I cant look past Chad Brown's Newspaperofrecord as the bet of the meeting in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. I'm hoping some of the European raiders will inflate her price but regardless there are very little holes you can pick in her form.
A facile winner of two races in America (both on softened turf which means any rain will be of no insignificance whatsoever) she comes her via the same route of superstar filly Lady Eli who Brown has already drawn comparisons to. The trainer has won this race in three of the last four years and pencilled this filly in for the contest straight after her debut win.
A decent draw and clear run and its hard to see much in this field being able to live with her. European horses are only two from 10 in this and most surprisingly Aidan O'Brien is yet to register his first success.
And what about one to lay?
I mentioned the Roaring Lion place lay already so for the other lay of the meeting for me will be Catalina Cruiser in the Dirt Mile. There's every chance this horse can end up odds-on and while it has looked as absolute Superstar in the making (four from four thus far) it has won its two stakes races in four and five runner fields against absolute trees.
No horse he beat has been considered good enough to even enter a Breeders' Cup race and it looks like he's never been taken out of his comfort zone. He not only meets far better horses than he's been thrashing but meets a double-figure field size for the first time - he'll need to prove that he is not just a flat track bully.
Add in that his trainer is 0-41 at the Breeders' Cup and he'll face a proper top class miler in City of Light and there's enough doubt to be clicking the lay button at the likely prices.
The Breeders' Cup on Betfair
- Live streaming will be available on all races across both Sportsbook and the Exchange
- In-play betting on the Exchange for all races
- Back a winner at 3/1 or bigger on all Breeders’ Cup races and get a free bet up to £/€25 (T&Cs apply)
- Minimum bet guarantee of £/€500 will apply to all Breeders’ Cup races over the weekend.