Our racing ambassador has four rides at Santa Anita on Saturday night and he provides his exclusive verdict on each as well as thoughts on the likely winners of each race...
"There are some proven Group/Grade 1 horses up against Dank in this race - and most of them are racing on their home turf, which gives them an obvious advantage - but you have to believe that Dank is the one to beat on her Arlington win."
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There are some proven Group/Grade 1 horses up against Dank in this race - and most of them are racing on their home turf, which gives them an obvious advantage - but you have to believe that she is the one to beat on her Arlington win.
Dank didn't have the ideal preparation before finishing third at Royal Ascot in June, but she thrived physically afterwards, and won nicely in an admittedly weakish Group 2 at The Curragh on her next start. So we went to the Beverly D last time out expecting a very big run, and she delivered with a wide-margin win.
She looks to have the beating of the home team on that victory but the bare form of that win doesn't give her that much in hand on some of these, and I would especially respect the chances of Romantica on better ground. She was pretty impressive in the Romanet and found the testing ground against her in the Vermeille last time. Overall, this looks a pretty competitive race, so it certainly won't be easy for my filly.
Had a troubled preparation when finishing last in the St James's Palace Stakes back in June, and has obviously not been out since. But Aidan must be happy with him for him to be lining up here. He has always been high up the three-year-old pecking order at Ballydoyle and he really impressed me when I won the Dee Stakes on him at Chester.
They could quite have easily gone down the Epsom route after that, but he showed me a lot of pace there and they took in a winnable Irish 2,000 Guineas, where he did it really well. He looks as if 1m4f on fast ground on a tight track will suit him well, and I can see him running a good race.
But clearly it would be one hell of a training performance were he to win this after such a break and others in here have far more solid claims. The Fugue has a good opportunity to atone for her unlucky third in the Filly and Mare Turf here last year, and clearly 1m4f on fast ground is no problem for her on a track such as this. And she probably is the form horse. Little Mike beat Point Of Entry in this race last year but I think the runner-up is maybe the best US horse in here on the balance of form.
He may have been beaten by Silver Max last time, but you have to say that last year's impressive winner Wise Dan is by far the likeliest winner of this race. Whether or not he deserves to be odds-on, I'm not so sure.
Olympic Glory bids to follow up his soft-ground win in the QEII a fortnight ago, and that is a quick turnaround, especially in Group 1 company when factoring in a trip across the Atlantic and much different racing conditions. It's a big ask. But on form he is bang there and he does act on better ground, so I can see the argument for him.
Cristoforo Colombo has yet to recapture his two-year-old form this season and the only time he has raced over this trip he finished fifth in the Guineas. But he is the kind of horse who could well excel over 1m on fast ground round here and I believe Aidan is happy with him. That said, he could run a career-best and still finish fourth or fifth, so realistically a place looks the height of his chances.
Is a Group 1 winner and finished third in the Dubai World Cup for me this year, so you can't be too dismissive of his chances. And maybe a first time hood will help him. But it would probably need to bring about a stone worth of improvement to see him competitive against the likes of Game On Dude, Mucho Macho Man, and Fort Larned. And he did run badly in the Dollar, so he deserves to be a big outsider here.
Declaration of War is a fascinating contender for Aidan and Joseph, having followed up his excellent Marois fourth for me when winning at York last time. He has the toughness and class to make his presence felt, but obviously the surface - as well as a very strong home team - is the issue. But he is American-bred and I have a sneaking suspicion that he could run a big race at odds of around 8-1. But winning this race is never an easy task and there are some big guns lined up against him.