The 2010 Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs is only a little more that three months away and things are starting to take shape in a few of the divions such as the Classic, Ladies' Classic, Sprint, and Filly & Mare Turf. With the over half of the Saratoga and Del Mar meetings still to be run, along with the International Festival of Racing at Arlington Park, many of the top contenders for the Breeders' Cup will be in action during the month of August.
I've updated the prep race Excel file for all races through Sunday afternoon.
Let's take a look at what's happened in each division since the last update.
A Little Warm was the surprise winner of the Jim Dandy after pressing a fairly quick pace on the front end and outlasting Miner's Reserve and Afleet Express in deep stretch. Fly Down went to post as the betting favorite but could only manage to finish fifth, four and a half lengths behind A Little Warm.
Lookin At Lucky's turned in the top non-Eskendereya performance of the year for a three year old colt by easily dispatching of his six rivals in the Haskell. While I believe there are still some questions with this colt at a mile and a quarter, it appears that Baffert got him through the Triple Crown season in good order and he's in excellent form to make a nice run towards the Classic.
Trappe Shot didn't run a poor race in the Haskell but he flattened out in deep stretch when it looked like he had a shot to put pressure on the winner. He had a lot of hype coming into this race, some of it justified, some of it not. His next start (possibly the Travers) should give us a better idea as to whether he's a contender or pretender for the Classic.
If it was any other Breeders' Cup year, the performance of Super Saver would torpedo any thoughts that he could contend in the Classic. But with this year's race at Churchill Downs, I think he remains a long shot candidate due to the fact that he's run so well in Louisville in previous races. Ice Box is in a similar situation as Super Saver in that he's run well on the Churchill main track, plus Ice Box is a colt where a clunker of a performance, like the Haskell, can be attributed to a poor pace scenario.
8/7 - Whitney Hcp. (Saratoga)
8/21 - Iselin Stakes (Monmouth)
Regardless of where Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta decide to run, the Ladies' Classic is beginning to look like a division with an abundance of depth. In the last two weeks we've seen Devil May Care win the CCA Oaks and Malibu Prayer win the Ruffian. Toss in Blind Luck and Unrivalled Belle, and there appears to be a decent amount of talent at the top of the division.
Harbinger's performance in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24th was a brilliant performance, one of the best of any horse on any continent this year. The provisional rating from Timeform was an incredible 142; anybody that follows the European rating systems realizes how rare a horse is assigned a rating that high. In fact, according to the Betfair blog, only three horses have rated higher since Timeform started their ratings system.
145 - Sea Bird II
144 - Brigadier Gerard, Tudor Minstrel
142 - Abernant, Ribot, Windy City
141 - Mill Reef
140 - Dancing Brave, Dubai Millennium, Sea The Stars, Shergar, Vaguely Noble
The rating is considered "provisional" until Harbinger (and the other horses in the same race) run subsequent races so that the number can be validated as the "true" rating.
Harbinger is an unlikely starter in the Breeders' Cup Turf, primarily because he'll be pointed towards the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in early October. He could, theoretically, run in both the Arc and the Turf, but I think the chances of that are slim.
8/14 - Sword Dancer (Saratoga)
8/21 - Arlington Million and Secretariat Stakes (Arlington)
8/29 - Del Mar Handicap (Del Mar(
If you had a chance to watch the race replay of Sunday's Prix Rothschild you saw another brilliant performance from two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Goldikova (IRE). Many European bookmakers have Goldikova around 6/5 to three peat at Churchill Downs; I don't know that the odds should be that high. Provided she stays on form, Goldikova would make sense to me at EVEN to 4/5 to win the Mile.
At some point I'll get around to discussing the North American contenders for this race but right now there is no one that appears to be anything but a long shot challenger to Goldikova's crown. The Usual Q.T., Tizdejavu, Get Stormy, Get Serious...all are nice horses that will add some depth to the Mile, but I haven't seen anything from them to suggest they could hold off Goldikova in the stretch. The only horse that could make it interesting might be Tizdejavu, given his brilliant performance in the Firecracker back on the Fourth of July. His affinity for the Churchill turf course and his early speed (if he were able to shake loose on the lead) might give him a chance. But even that chance is probably no better than 12 or 15/1, in my opinion.
8/13 - Racing Hall of Fame (Saratoga)
8/14 - La Jolla Hcp. (Del Mar)
8/15 - Lacques Le Marois (Deauville)
Sunday's Grade 1 Bing Crosby saw heavily favored Cost of Freedom break poorly and then get absolutely wiped out at the beginning of the race, trouble allowed 8/1 shot Smiling Tiger to roll along on the lead en route to the win over Scenic Blast (AUS).
Going forward, I'll be watching out for Scenic Blast in the Turf Sprint division since I don't believe dirt racing is really where he wants to be.
8/2 - G2 Amsterdam
8/8 - G1 Vanderbilt
8/28 - G1 King's Bishop
9/4 - G1 Forego
Originally schedule to run in the Jim Dandy, Richard Dutrow's Winslow Homer scratched and then entered the listed Curlin Stakes, which he won in wire-to-wire fashion by nine lengths over an outclassed field. I don't know that Winslow Homer is a fantastic fit in the Classic division (although Dutrow will point him to the Travers for his next start); he could make a nice contender in the Dirt Mile should the connections decide to ultimately head in that direction.
8/21 - Iselin Stakes (Monmouth)
8/22 - Longacres Mile (Emerald Downs)
It's still a bit early in the year but it's hard not to be underwhelmed by what we've seen so far in this division. Proviso (GB), Perfect Swirl, and Unbridled Essence picked up graded wins in the last week but none of them appeared to be head and shoulders above their rivals. Forever Together is still and talented and ultra consistent mare, but she's pretty much on par with the rest of the division.
8/15 - John C. Mabee (Del Mar)
8/21 - Beverly D. (Arlington)
8/21 - Del Mar Oaks (Del Mar)
8/22 - Lake Placid Hcp. (Saratoga)
There is still time for someone to step-up within the division but this looks like a year where the European shippers could have a big advantage.
A.U. Miner and Temple City have both secured spots in the Marathon through the "Win and You're In" program.
9/11 - Fall Championship Stakes (Turfway)
10/1 - The Diamond Stakes (Dundalk)
It's tough to get a read on a division where form can change dramatically from one race to the next. Additionally, we won't start seeing any of these juveniles run in two-turn races until early to mid-September, which should provide a better barometer as to the prime contenders.
8/8 - Best Pal Stakes (Del Mar)
8/15 - Saratoga Special (Saratoga)
Only one graded stake in this division so far in 2010, the G3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga, and that was a pretty dull race all the way around.
8/6 - Sorrento Stakes (Del Mar)
8/15 - Adirondack Hcp. (Saratoga)
9/4 - Darley Debutante (Del Mar)
9/5 - Spinaway Stakes (Saratoga)
8/7 - Test (Saratoga)
8/8 - Honorable Miss (Saratoga)
8/22 - Rancho Bernardo (Del Mar)
8/2 Royal North Stakes (Woodbine)
Juvenile Turf & Juvenile Filly Turf
No stakes races scheduled in either division until the end of August.