Timeform's guide to Friday's Breeders' Cup action at Santa Anita

American Pharoah at the Breeders' Cup
Timeform provide a guide to Friday's action at the Breeders' Cup

Timeform provide a race-by-race guide to the action on the opening day of the 2019 Breeders' Cup, with European runners fancied to strike in a couple of the night's turf races.

"...got back on the up in no uncertain terms when winning the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp last time..."

Timeform on Albigna

The Breeders' Cup action on Friday gets under way with the Juvenile Turf Sprint (20:12 GMT), a race that was included as part of the main programme for the first time only 12 months ago. European raiders made up half of the 12-strong field, including the favourite Soldier's Call, but it was ultimately the home team who came out on top with a 1-2 led by the Todd Pletcher-trained Bulletin.

This year's renewal, which has also been promoted to Grade 2 status, features another even split between European and North American runners, with the latter group responsible for the market leaders in the shape of two horses trained by Wesley Ward, namely Kimari and Four Wheel Drive.

Four Wheel Drive is unbeaten in two starts, including a six-furlong Grade 3 at Belmont last time, while Kimari is more familiar to punters on these shores, having been beaten just a head by Raffle Prize in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. She has created a deep impression in winning both her subsequent starts in the US, and that form sets the standard here in receipt of 3 lb from the colts.

The pick of the raiding party looks to be A'Ali, who has established himself as a smart and speedy juvenile in five starts for Simon Crisford this term, with his wins including the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster.

That form is right up there with what Kimari and Four Wheel Drive have achieved - the three of them are clear of the remainder on weight-adjusted ratings - but the experience of running round a bend will be all new to him, and his wide draw could see him on the backfoot in the early stages if failing to make a fast exit from the gates.

The suggestion is to focus on Wesley Ward's two market leaders, with preference for the rapid Kimari following an eye-catching last-to-first success over an extended five furlongs at Keeneland last time.

The European runners are outnumbered by their domestic opposition in the Juvenile Turf (20:52 GMT), but the two who do feature include the clear one to beat on form in the shape of Dewhurst runner-up Arizona, who produced an effort good enough to win every renewal of this race since its inception in 2007 when finding only Pinatubo too strong at Newmarket.

His trainer Aidan O'Brien knows what sort of horse is required to win this race, too, having done so on four occasions in its 12-year history, and Arizona has already shown that he can handle an occasion such as this, having announced himself on the big stage when overcoming his inexperience to win the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The son of No Nay Never took his form to another level when second on the Rowley Mile, a performance that leaves him 11 lb clear of the field on weight-adjusted ratings here, and he looks sure to take plenty of beating with a bit of luck from his wide draw (12 of 14), especially as the return to a sounder surface is expected to see him in an even better light.

He is joined in the line-up by stablemate Fort Myers, who looks up against it on the form of his recent listed win at Dundalk, while the unexposed duo of Decorated Invader and Structor appeal as the best of the home team.

The former was a Grade 1 winner at Woodbine recently, while Structor showed a terrific attitude to land a Grade 3 at Belmont (by a head from Andesite) last time, the same race that Oscar Performance won before following up in this race in 2016.

The last of the European representation on the night comes in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (22:12 GMT), with Albigna and Daahyeh currently challenging for favouritism as they bid to provide their trainers - Jessica Harrington and Roger Varian, respectively - with a first Breeders' Cup success.

A ready winner of the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, Daahyeh had Albigna four places behind her when second in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in September, and she didn't need to improve much (if at all) to get back to winning ways in the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last time, always doing enough to get the verdict by half a length.

The extra furlong here is a slight question mark now stepping back up to the highest level, especially with so much speed in her pedigree (by Bated Breath and out of a five-furlong winner), but the tight nature of this track provides her with her best chance of staying a mile, while her tactical speed could prove crucial in getting a good position in the early stages.

Albigna was found to be in season after her disappointing effort in the Moyglare, and she got back on the up in no uncertain terms when winning the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp last time, looking well suited by the step up to this trip as she forged clear in the closing stages to win by two and a half lengths.

That was one of the most impressive performances produced by any two-year-old filly in Europe this year, and quotes of around 4/1 make plenty of appeal here, especially as the home team doesn't look quite so strong as in recent years, a spell that has seen them win every renewal since 2014, with the last three going the way of Chad Brown.

Brown is represented by recent Grade 2 winner Selflessly this time, but the horse to take out of that race - and possibly the pick of the US contingent here - looks to be the runner-up Crystalle, who was beaten just three quarters of a length despite conceding 4 lb to the winner.

She is taken to reverse the placings here and can emerge as the chief threat to Albigna, leaving Daahyeh and Sweet Melania, who looked a bright prospect in her own right when winning a Grade 2 at Keeneland earlier in the month, to complete the shortlist.

The Juvenile Fillies (21:32 GMT) on the dirt looks wide open, with very little to separate the first four in the betting, but the cream is fancied to rise to the top in the Juvenile (23:03 GMT) that concludes the Breeders' Cup action on Friday, with the form book suggesting that Dennis' Moment and Eight Rings are head and shoulders above their rivals in the absence of Maxfield.

Dennis' Moment was an even shorter price than 6/4 earlier in the week, but he has been on the drift slightly since the draw was announced on Monday and it was revealed Dale Romans' charge would break from the inside stall. He will need to display plenty of tactical speed from there to ensure that he can take up a prominent position in the early stages, which can so often be a big advantage in races on dirt, and there is no doubt this represents a stiff test for one so inexperienced, especially with a rival of Eight Rings' calibre in opposition.

Indeed, Eight Rings looked a very smart juvenile in the making when winning a Grade 1 over C&D last time, forging clear late on to win by six lengths, and the potential make-up of this race, not to mention his scope for further improvement, identifies him as the one to be with for the Bob Baffert barn that has already won this race four times.

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