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2008 Breeders' Cup: Random Thoughts


A big day for the Euros is capped off by a 1-2 from Raven's Pass and Henrythenavigator in the Classic, and a defeat of defending champ, Curlin.

In my opinion, it was evident right from the start that this would probably not be Curlin's day. Coming by the stands for the first time, Curlin had the leg action of a horse that was not taking to the track. It was the same leg action I saw last year from Dylan Thomas as he ran in by the stand in the Turf on a Soft course. Curlin was able to make a big move to go to the front, but he had wasted too much energy struggling with the surface and was passed by Raven's Pass and Henrythenavigator in the stretch.

The Euros finally got the Breeders' Cup where they could make hay on the main track. Next year's Breeders' Cup will be at Santa Anita again. Ignore the Euros at your peril.

The best part of this weekend? No injuries. As someone that had to watch the final moments of George Washington at Monmouth last year, that's the best news of all.


It's time for the final race, the Classic, and the early wagering has Curlin at 4-5 to win. And while Curlin is a great horse on dirt, I think those are very poor odds for his first try on the synthetics. With the day that he's having, Garret Gomez and Go Between, and their 8/1 odds, look awfully enticing.

As other commentators have noted, the potential problem with Curlin is with the potential lack of finishing kick over an unfamiliar surface.

Truth be told, I hope Curlin wins because he's been a joy to watch for two years and I'd like to see him go out on top. However, I think he's really up against it on this surface and a poor wager at 4/5.

My final pick for the Classic: Go Between over Henrythenavigator and Champs Elysees.


Soldier of Fortune proved way too eager down the backstretch, opening the race up to his Euro conpatriarts to swoop by in the stretch. Europe runs 1-2-4 in the Turf. American Dancing Forever, a horse that performed horribly on soft ground in his last two, came in third.

The winner, Conduit (Ire), was clearly the best in this race. The winner of the Group 1-St. Leger at Doncaster is now a Breeders' Cup champion.

As a side note, there was some absurd commentary from some analysts that the hot weather would hurt the European chances at this Breeders' Cup, a thought that ignored the previous history of Euros at Santa Anita. Today's results should prove, once and for all, that the Euros can win in the hot, SoCal weather.


And Mutton Chops finally makes his appearance. My Breeders' Cup weekend is complete.


-As someone that was at Monmouth Park during the monsoon for last year's Breeders' Cup, the sight of sunshine and a dry track at Santa Anita is simply wonderful. I realize a lot of players hate the synthetic surfaces in California, but you sure can't beat the weather.

-Given what we've seen so far today in the Mile and the Juvenile Turf, it certainly looks like the Turf is setting up for a European romp. Conduit, Eagle Mountain, Red Rocks, Soldier of Fortune, and even the three year-old, Winchester, all seem to have a legitimate chance. The only Euro throwout is Red Rock Canyon, a maiden that only serves as a pacesetter for Ballydoyle.

If I had to bet against a Euro I'd be hard pressed not to take Garret Gomez and Out of Control. He's the hot jock and on a horse that should be on the lead with a possible soft pace scenario. And he's at a nice, fat 11/1.


So Garret Gomez continues to make the Breeders' Cup his own personal playground, and Midnight Lute once again destroys the field in the Sprint, despite the foot problems he's had the past few weeks. And the Sprint continues to be a race that, year after year, I have no clue how to pick a winner in. Thankfully, I've recognized that and ceased wagering large amounts on this race.


-Midnight Lute in a bar shoe? Eh, I think I'll look elsewhere.

There was talk of the bar shoe earlier in the week on TVG's The Works. The last time I heard of a bar shoe on a BC runner was the 05 Breeders' Cup at Belmont and Leroidesanimaux. On paper, Leroi was an odds on favorite, but his foot issues left him less than 100%. I think we can assume that Midnight Lute will be at least a little below his best, which is probably enough to keep him from the winner's circle. We'll see.


-The running of the Juvenile Turf, won in a 1-2 Euro finish (Donativum and Westphalia), is just further evidence of the strength of Euro turfers. The two winners, both of which had to navigate some traffic in the lane, absolutely blew by their American contenders.

And...Frankie Dettori is a brilliant, patient rider.


-Randy Moss just made a great point on ESPN: every winner on the main track has shown synthetic form coming into this weekend, something Curlin can't claim. Some thought the Euro turfers would dominate the synthetic races, but it's turning out that horses that have previously run over a synthetic surface are dominating. That makes Go Between, Student Council and Tiago big threats in the Classic.

No one can hold a candle to Curlin on dirt, but the plastic stuff would appear to make things a lot more even.


-This is the second year of the two-day Breeders' Cup format, and I have to say, I'm not really a fan. I'd rather have all fourteen races run on one day than to break everything up. First, it really puts a strain on my handicapping. After that first day I really am exhausted and not up to spending the evening trying to map out Pick 3 and Pick 4 tickets. Second, it takes great races like the F&M Turf out of the classic Pick 4 sequences.

-With all due respect to Zenyatta, Goldikova is my pick for performance of the weekend. She absolutely blew by the colts in the Turf Mile, leaving defending champion Kip Deville, who ran a nice race, in her wake.

-Open plea to ESPN: Just show us the classic pan shot during the race. This close-up crap and cams are nice for quick takes, but not for extended periods of time. You don't have to continually try to reinvent the wheel. People don't watch because of pretty shots. They watch to see if the horse they bet money on is winning. Get it?

-Does Garret Gomez win every BC race? Good lord, this guy has been on a Breeders' Cup roll the last two years.

-The complaints from the cynics that this Breeders' Cup would be ruined due to the synthetic surface are looking pretty silly right now. The races have been fair with some longshots and some favorites, and no winner that you couldn't at least make a case for.