Give us an idea of what the Santa Anita track is like
The dirt track at Santa Anita has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this year, so safety has become paramount. With that in mind, the track is deeper and somewhat slower than people may remember from previous Breeders' Cups, although as with all dirt tracks, early speed can be a big tactical advantage. The turf track is tight and the ground usually firm, though that being said, it's generally fair to most running styles.
From a home team perspective, are there any interesting angles?
The trainer/jockey angle that intrigues me most is the potential coming together of Jorge Navarro and Jose Ortiz with Shancelot in the Sprint. Navarro has reached for Ortiz in an effort to get Shancelot to relax up front, and if that works, we could see something very exciting.
How do the raiding European party shape up this year?
As always, the Europeans have a strong hand in the turf races - even without Magical travelling - with Arizona (Juvenile Turf), Circus Maximus (Mile) and Anthony Van Dyck (pictured) and Old Persian (Turf) all having chances. If I had to pick the strongest of those, I'd probably just side with Circus Maximus in a weak-looking Mile.
The Classic looks wide open with no real standout star. Is that fair?
Absolutely, particularly with likely favourite McKinzie having doubts over both his attitude and his ability to run to his best over the trip. In an open year, I'll be siding with the mare Elate, who's unbeaten over ten furlongs (three from three) and gets a handy 3lb from the other older horses.
Best bet of the meeting?
The aforementioned Shancelot for me. His Amsterdam Stakes demolition job in July is still fresh in the memory and I think he's had excuses for both his narrow defeats since then. The booking of Jose Ortiz on this keen-going sort is a big plus and Jorge Navarro is on record as saying this is the most talented horse he's ever trained - and he's had a few good ones!
Best lay of the meeting?
I'll be laying Covfefe in the Filly & Mare Sprint. She's very speedy and extremely talented, but this will be like no other test she's faced in her short career to date, and there are grounds for thinking she's too short at around 2/1. She'll get plenty of pace pressure and two or three of the fillies who'll be running her down late are at least as good in ratings terms.
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