Horse Racing Tips

Breeders' Cup Tips: Mark Milligan's selections on an excellent weekend of racing

Mark Milligan has taken aim at the Breeders' Cup

US expert Mark Milligan has taken an in-depth look at the Breeders' Cup and has four selections for us...

  • Wesley Ward holds strong hand in turf sprints
  • Tuesday to strike for Ireland
  • Nest hard to beat in Distaff

The Breeders' Cup is almost upon a us and what a great weekend of racing we have to look forward to at Keeneland.

As well as just about all the best US horses on show, headed of course by the exceptional Flightline in the Classic, there is a typically strong European challenge for the turf races, where Team Europe will be hoping to better their tally of four winners the last time this meeting was staged here.

Flightline is the one horse garnering all the headlines in the run up to the meeting and it's easy to see why when you look at what he's achieved in his short career to date.

Unbeaten in five starts, he produced an amazing performance when winning the Pacific Classic at Del Mar by the best part of 20 lengths in August, an effort that saw him rewarded with a 143 Timeform rating - the highest rating that organisation has given a North American-trained horse since they started collating ratings from that jurisdiction.

If Flightline can produce that sort of performance in this year's Classic, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that he could challenge Frankel's imperious 147 rating - the highest in Timeform's history.

Of course, Flightline is odds-on and wouldn't be a betting proposition for me despite what he's achieved, although there are plenty of punting opportunities elsewhere on a stellar card.

Wesley Ward to take first juvenile contest

We'll start by taking a look at 'Future Stars Friday', which sees the juveniles take centre stage, and I'm hopeful Wesley Ward can triumph in the Juvenile Turf Sprint with his filly Love Reigns.

A wide-margin winner on debut over this C&D in April, she headed over to Royal Ascot as one of her trainer's leading hopes when running in the Queen Mary, and she wasn't disgraced in finishing 3 lengths behind Dramatised in fourth place.

She was right back on track when winning a listed race at Saratoga last time, where she rationed her speed little, sitting in second before blasting home in the straight to win convincingly.

That form was franked when runner-up Danse Macabre took a stakes race on her next start and with home advantage I'm confident that Love Reigns can turn around that Royal Ascot form with Dramatised.

It's also interesting that she showed a different dimension last time rather than just setting off in front as so many Wesley Ward juveniles do, and that could serve her to good effect with speedsters The Platinum Queen and Tyler's Tribe likely to line up against her.

Golden Pal to rocket home

I'm going to pass on the rest of Friday's races and switch my attention to Saturday, where I rate Golden Pal a strong selection in the Turf Sprint.

It would be somewhat unfair to judge this son of Uncle Mo on his three defeats in the UK, especially the last pair at York and Royal Ascot, as he's been nigh on unbeatable on home turf and will surely take plenty of stopping once again.

He was sensational in this race at Del Mar last year, essentially having the race won in the first 100 yards or so with his blinding gate speed, and I'm expecting a similarly sharp start this time around.

He broke quite sluggishly when winning at Saratoga in August, but team Ward had clearly worked on that prior to his run at Keeneland last time, where he was back to his best at the gate and looked every bit as good as ever in winning that Grade 2 event.

There is a fascinating dynamic to this race with high-class UK raider Highfield Princess coming over and she's had rly short of speed herself.

However, as fast he is early, I'm doubtful as to whether she can break as quickly as Golden Pal under US conditions and she may have to use up a bit of valuable gas if she's playing catch up out of the stalls.

I'm very keen on Golden Pal, who appears to have everything in his favour and he'd be one of my strongest fancies at the meeting.

Oaks winner to bounce back to form

Nashwa is a warm favourite for the Filly & Mare Turf but I'm not sure there should be quite as big a discrepancy in her price compared to Tuesday's for the Aidan O'Brien camp.

Tuesday was ahead of Nashwa when winning the Oaks in slightly fortuitous fashion from Emily Upjohn, but she backed up that form when runner-up to subsequent Arc winner Alpinista in the Yorkshire Oaks in August, rebounding form a rather flat run in the Curragh version in between.

I'm willing to give her a pass for her last two runs, where she was too keen in the Vermeille and then didn't look entirely at home in the really soft ground in the Prix de l'Opera.

It could be argued that this test will be sharp enough for Tuesday, but given her exuberant way of travelling of late, it may be that drop back in trip will enable her to settle better and see things out more convincingly as a result.

Pletcher's Nest to prove best

Todd Pletcher holds a strong hand in the Distaff as he's represented by both Nest and her year-older stable companion Malathaat.

Malathaat is a really likeable filly who always gives her all but she doesn't quite have the star potential of Nest, who I'm confident will have too many guns for her.

There's a strong case that Nest is the best 3-y-o of either sex in North America this year and I don't think she'd have looked out of place in the Classic itself.

Runner-up in both the Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes, the daughter Curling has taken her form to a new level on her last three starts, winning a pair of Grade 1s and a Grade 2 by an aggregate of over 26 lengths.

The scary thing for those lining up against her is that Nest may not be done improving just yet and could well have even more in her already considerably large locker.

With plenty of tactical speed in her armoury, Nest should be positioned relatively close to the pace before pouncing in the home straight to provide her trainer with a third Distaff winner.

Recommended bets

Mark's 2022 US Racing P&L

Staked: 57.5 Returns: 87.54 P/L: +30.04

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