Breeders' Cup Preview - Day One
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Breeders' Cup Preview - Day One

A fantastic weekend of racing from the United States begins on Friday as two days of top-class action from the Californian coastline begin at Del Mar Racecourse, host to the Breeders' Cup 2021. The meeting begins at 6.55pm on Friday with a 10-race card in place that concludes at 12.30am. There are five official Breeders' Cup contests on day one and the Racing Post preview what should be a thrilling day of racing stateside.



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6.55pm - Race 1 - Allowance Optional Claiming (6f)

His presence at this meeting is controversial but the name of Bob Baffert will feature plenty across two days and he's got a strong double-hand to play in this opener. TRIPLE TAP cruised to a very impressive first-up win at Santa Anita back in the spring and, absent since, could well be set to take this rise in class in his stride under Flavien Prat.

Stablemate Sumo has John Velazquez on board and scored in a fast time on second start at Los Alamitos last month, he's got further improvement to come and is a danger. The hat-trick seeking Silver Moon Road is another with a progressive profile for trainer Peter Miller with Tyler Gaffalione on top and should be in the scrap, while Red Valor could harbour place claims at a decent price if rebounding from his latest Santa Anita third, when odds-on.

Selection: Triple Tap

Next Best: Silver Moon Road


7.25pm - Race 2 - Qatar Golden Mile Stakes (1m)

A first sighting of Ryan Moore at Del Mar and he'll be in the familiar Tabor colours when partnering ASTRONOMER for US-based handler Simon Callaghan. The Air Force Blue colt got on the scoresheet at Golden Gate Fields last month, making all and impressing in the manner he stretched clear in the run to the line after the challengers sought to peg him back. This is a tough assignment but he's a colt with more to come and, drawn in one, can get a good track position.

Degree Of Risk is dropping in class and gets a pair of first-time blinkers added after running third in a Grade 1 at Woodbine over this mile distance last time out. He's certainly entitled to be in the mix as is unbeaten Ready To Perform for Brad Cox. Optimising is another with scope for improvement while Boise justified favouritism on debut at Golden Gate Fields in September over 5f and, if coping with this new trip, could bely his status as outsider in the ten-runner field.

Selection: Astronomer

Next Best: Degree Of Risk


7.55pm - Race 3 - Golden State Juvenile Fillies' Stakes (7f)

VIVACIOUS VANESSA was mightily impressive on her debut at Santa Anita last month and trainer Gary Mandella will have high hopes for the Not This Time filly going 2-2 here. She raced off the pace in that mile event and, once asked for an effort, she cut down the field in a matter of strides and was able to cruise home in the style of a smart filly. She is drawn wide and should be able to stalk in what isn't a massive field. That explosive gear-change can serve her well again down in distance.

Big Novel had plenty in hand at Santa Anita last time over 6f and looks a key player with an extra furlong destined to serve well, while Bold Choice was behind in second that day and can be in the scrap again. At The Spa got a bit worked up pre-race last time and failed in her bid for a four-timer in the Grade 1 Debutante Stakes over this track and trip. She could fare better, if handling the occasion.

Selection: Vivacious Vanessa

Next Best: Big Novel

8.30pm - Race 4 - Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (5f)

Superstition, who is unbeaten at this track in three starts, ran well in a Grade 3 at Keeneland in September and will have hope of another Del Mar success for Richard Mandella but HEAR MY PRAYER could be a tough nut to crack. She left some talented rivals in her wake when scoring her in August on first start for Vladimir Cerin and that C&D-winning effort makes her very likeable.

A G Indy is another set to go well for the Doug O'Neill team. She won twice over C&D in August and September and lost very little caste in defeat last time at Santa Anita.

Selection: Hear My Prayer

Next Best: Superstition


9.05pm - Race 5 - Golden State Juvenile Stakes (7f)

A draw in stall 12 isn't ideal but even allowing for that, FINNEUS might have the class to overcome for trainer Walter Solis with the excellent Joel Rosario getting his leg up now. He's got plenty speed to get a decent position early from his wide draw and he ought to find this easier having finished midfield in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita last month. That experience should serve him well.

Joker Boy finished behind him in that race but trades shorter in the betting now. He's talented if not a bit quirky too and sports a new pair of blinkers under John Velazquez this time. He's definitely capable of a big run in the right mood.

The betting will be key to assessing the trio of once-raced winners - Fast Draw Munnings, Slow Down Andy and Billy's Bet. The last-named made the running on debut at Santa Anita and so maybe Slow Down Andy's stalking nature is a better trait tonight. He's drawn just inside Finneus and they can come with late challenges.

Selection: Finneus

Next Best: Slow Down Andy


9.50pm - Race 6 - Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (Grade 2, 5f)

Last year's winning combo of Wesley Ward and Irad Ortiz Jr can scorch to more Juvenile Turf Sprint glory with TWILIGHT GLEAMING, one of three leading contenders for the American trainer synonymous with 2YO speedsters.

This filly just failed to win the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot in June, caught late on by Quick Suzy in finishing second of 21 runners. She made her trip to Europe worthwhile by taking a Listed prize home from Deauville in August and is a huge player back on her home patch now.

A major obstacle presents in her stablemate Averly Jane, the filly having won all four starts to date. She defeated the third Ward runner, Kaufymaker, at Keeneland last time out and has major claims of remaining unbeaten.

European hopes are strong too. Armor ran third in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket last time for Richard Hannon and should go well under Ryan Moore, while Go Bears Go is a player for David Loughnane is recapturing the form he showed earlier in the season. The hitherto unbeaten One Time has drawn wider than ideal but is respected.

Selection: Twilight Gleaming

Next Best: Averly Jane

10.30pm - Race 7 - Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade 1, 1m½f)

The smallest field of the evening as just six present themselves in search of the $1,260,000 first prize. Perhaps the Steve Asmussen-trained Echo Zulu has scared some opposition off in the wake of Grade 1 wins in the Spinaway at Saratoga and the Frizette at Belmont lately. She has the potential to be a proper superstar on the evidence to date and it's no great surprise to find Joel Rosario's mount is odds on to win this.

It might not be straightforward however as HIDDEN CONNECTION looked to be more than useful herself when easily dispatching her rivals in a Churchill Downs Grade 3 last time. Bret Calhoun's filly hasn't been fully extended in either of her wins and it could get very interesting in the home stretch.

The third wheel is Juju's Map for Brad Cox, herself a four-length Grade 1 winner at Keeneland last time when taking out the Alcibiades - the same contest her trainer won with British Idiom en route to snaring this in 2019.

Selection: Hidden Connection

Next Best: Echo Zulu


11.10pm - Race 8 - Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1, 1m)

Brad Cox won this race a year ago with Aunt Pearl on the back of that filly winning the Grade 2 Jessamine at Keeneland and, whilst she was only third in the same contest, TURNERLOOSE has a decent shot now for the same trainer.

She wasn't helped last time by a rain-effected track and she also gave a tactical advantage away in racing on the inside and is fancied to leave that run behind. The winner, California Angel re-opposes here and, having cost just $5,500 at the sales, she'd be a real tale for the underdogs if she can add this to her CV.

The unbeaten duo Koala Princess and Haughty are, of course, afforded a chunk of respect for trainers Arnaud Delacour and Chad Brown respectively. They are unexposed and no doubt capable of further improvement.

David Loughnane's Hello You, winner of the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket in September, is set to lead the European challenge and has drawn well.

Selection: Turnerloose

Next Best: Koala Princess


11.50pm - Race 9 - Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Grade 1, 1m½f)

Bob Baffert saddles unbeaten duo Corniche and Pinehurst - both 2-2 thus far and eminently very capable colts. Mike Smith is on the former and, while clearly a talent, he'll have his stamina thoroughly examined now and he's not done well in the draw landing the widest berth.

Despite all that, Smith seemingly prefers his chance to that of stablemate and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity winner Pinehurst. At the prices, the latter might be the best shout however.

Arrogate colt Jasper Great carries Japanese hopes and, while surely needing to improve on his Hanshin debut win, he might just do that and run a big race.

COMMANDPERFORMANCE was second-best behind Jack Christopher (late defector from this race) in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park over 1m last month. Todd Pletcher's charge is another with a wide draw to contend with but the extra emphasis on stamina promises to suit him and, with his old adversary now out, he could be the one to thwart the Baffert pair.

Selection: Commandperformance

Next Best: Pinehurst

12.30am - Race 10 - Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1, 1m)

Having finished second in the Dewhurst at Newmarket last time Hugo Palmer's Dubawi Legend brings in excellent form but he's drawn very wide and that could be a worry for him now.

Charlie Appleby fires a pair, namely Tattersall Stakes winner Modern Games, the mount of William Buick, and Albahr, already a top-level winner in the United States this season at Woodbine and the mount of Frankie Dettori now. The latter has won his last four starts and is perhaps the European of most interest at the early prices considering he's already shown his ability to produce it in the US.

Kitten's Joy colt PORTFOLIO COMPANY has proven effective on turf/dirt in three runs and was second in a Grade 2 at Belmont last time for trainer Chad Brown. He should give a good account in a tough finale to day one at the Breeders' Cup, with the likes of Tiz The Bomb, Slipstream and Aidan O'Brien's Glounthaune all solid contenders too.

Selection: Portfolio Company

Next Best: Albahr


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V: 1.22.1 All rights reserved. August 2021
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