Starting today I'm going to begin a Road to the 2010 Breeders' Cup feature that will take us up to the big day on November 5th and 6th at Churchill Downs. The first installments will occur bi-weekly (since we're still almost 3 1/2 months out), but once we hit mid-September I'll increase the frequency to once a week. Additionally, once we get a little closer I'll start to put together a list of the Top 5 contenders in each division.
This week's volume is simply a quick snapshot of where we stand at the mid-way point of the summer as I have updated the Breeders' Cup prep race file with top three finishers, chart links, and speed figures from this past weekend's stakes action. I also added a couple of races to the file that weren't originally included (the Our Dear Peggy from Calder and the Don Barnhardt from Ellis Park). I don't expect these races to really produce a serious Breeders' Cup contender but since each one generated a fairly strong speed figure I decided to toss them into the mix just in case.
Below are a few general thoughts on each of the Breeders' Cup divisions:
All the big guns have been quite recently but things will begin to change significantly over the next three weeks. Rachel Alexandra will run this weekend at Monmouth while her rival, Zenyatta, will likely run at Del Mar on August 7th (although that's not confirmed). In two weeks, Monmouth Park could play host to a stacked renewal of the Grade 1 Haskell, where the filed might include Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, First Dude, Ice Box, Trappe Shot, and Uptowncharlybrown.
If, as we expect, both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta opt to go in the Classic, the Ladies' Classic could be an extremely wide open affair. We should begin to see the division shake out a bit in the next three weeks with the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, the Grade 1 Ruffian, and the Grade 1 Diana taking place at Saratoga.
From simply a domestic perspective, since it's impossible to gauge the European possibilities at this time, Gio Ponti, Paddy O'Prado and Chinchon (IRE) are probably the current best of the division. Workin For Hops will have a chance to move himself up the ladder on Arlington Million day.
It's Goldikova's world, we all just live in it.
If I had to pick an American horse that I'm keeping my eye on in the Mile division it would be Tizdejavu, the colt that steamrolled the competition in the Firecracker at Churchill Downs. We'll see how he progresses the rest of the summer but I love the fact that this horse ran a huge race on the same course that the Mile will be run on in November.
The best performance this summer from a pure speed figure perspective was E Z's Gentleman in the Triple Bend two Saturday's ago at Hollywood Park. Of course, that race was on the synthetic and at seven furlongs whereas the Sprint will be at six on the dirt. Still, it's hard not to be impressed with this colt's raw ability.
If he makes it to the Breeders' Cup, I'm going to have a keen interest on Atta Boy Roy, a colt that has put up two very nice performances in graded sprints at Churchill Downs in 2010.
It's tough to have any concrete ideas about this division since this race tends to feature a bunch of horses that wanted to run in the Classic but end up in this race as their second choice. For the first time in three years, however, this race will be a true "dirt" mile.
Filly & Mare Sprint
I loved Informed Decision at last year's Breeders' Cup but I likely won't get within a mile of her this year due to her affinity for synthetic tracks. If she shows strong form on the dirt leading up to November I could be convinced to change my mind, but I'm guessing her connections are going to keep her on the plastic for the time being.
Princess Rooney winner Jessica Is Back is an interesting addition to this division; she was left behind in Rachel Alexandra's wake in the Fleur de Lis but turned it on once she took a cut in distance. I didn't think much of her sprinting capabilities prior to that last race but she is definitely one to watch going forward.
This race will involve a different bit of analysis than it has the previous two Breeders' Cup since the 2008 and 2009 versions were run on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita and a six and a half furlongs. With the Cup moving to Churchill, the turf sprint will go back to what most of us think of as a more traditional turf sprint distance of 5 furlongs.
Silver Timber, Chamberlain Bridge, and Stradivinsky have all turned in solid performances in graded turf sprints so far this summer.
Filly & Mare Turf
Like the Turf division, the Filly & Mare Turf is tough to get a handle on without knowing what Europeans are going to make their way across the Atlantic in the fall. In terms of the North American contenders, races like the Beverly D. and the Del Mar Oaks should start to clear up the picture.
Juvenile Filly Turf
Ask me again in two months.