Simon Clare’s Friday Tips for Santa Anita
Coral’s Simon Clare provides his tips for Friday’s racing all the way from California
Simon has spent the entire week out at the beautiful Santa Anita track, getting exclusive interviews with the most in-the-know people in horse racing. Below, he provides his tips for Friday’s races…
The Juvenile Turf is a race that European trained horses have dominated winning six of the nine runnings. The record at Santa Anita is even more compelling with four wins from five races, and even that US winner Hootenanny had been campaigned in Europe that season by Wesley Ward and was ridden by Frankie Dettori to victory on the night. Aidan O’Brien has worked out what type of horse he needs to bring to win this race, and has now won it three times with George Vancouver, Hit It A Bomb and Wrote, all ridden by Ryan Moore. In Intelligence Cross and Lancaster Bomber, he appears to have two very serious contenders.
Lancaster Bomber was 66/1 when he finished runner-up in the Dewhurst to the best two year old in Europe, and stable mate, Churchill but the form is red-hot with Rivet coming out and winning the Racing Post Trophy and Thunder Snow winning a Group 1 at Saint Cloud last weekend. He’s expected to relish the super-fast ground and the step up to a mile. The worry must be his draw in one, as O’Brien expects him to go forward but the two horses outside him also like to get prominent positions, so any sluggishness in the stall s will be costly. Also if you watch the Dewhurst again, he was one paced in the last furlong, before staying on again to reclaim second place. This is a track where you absolutely have to have speed to make your move round the bend, and then a finishing kick as you enter the straight. I fear he will be tapped for toe before staying on one paced to grab an honourable place.
O’Brien revealed earlier in the week that he chooses which horse Ryan Moore will ride when he has more than one runner in a race which (a) came as a surprise to me and (b) suggests he is a very good judge as the choice is rarely wrong when it comes to big races. The fact that Moore rides Intelligence Cross is significant and suggests O’Brien favours the speedier of his two runners. Intelligence Cross has been campaigned only over six furlongs so this mile trip is a step into the unknown, yet in both the Richmond Stakes and the Middle Park he ran is if wanting a step up in trip, and stayed on well at the finish. He is drawn perfectly in 8, so can jump out and get a decent position, and then has the speed to hold on to it. There is likely to be a serious pace with the likes of Oscar Performance, Wellabled, Lancaster Bomber and Keep Quiet all making or pressing the pace from the off, and the race should set up perfectly for a Ryan Moore master-class on this son of War Front.
The Simon Crisford trained Rodaini was unlucky at Newmarket last time out but I watched the race again and I’m not convinced he was travelling that well when he stumbled and lost all chance. This looks a step too far on what he’s achieved to date. That said Crisford is a shrewd operator and the fact that he has brought the horse over suggests he feels the track and ground will suit his horse. If there is to be a danger from the home team it is likely to come from Good Samaritan who was impressive winning the Summer Stakes in a good time. The East coast horses look unspectacular and I don’t fancy the local hopes Big Score and Bowies Hero as both have beaten each other and the California turf form is rarely very special.
Selection: Intelligence Cross
Alternative: Lancaster Bomber
The Dirt Mile may not be the most thrilling Breeders’ Cup contest to be staged over the two days but in my opinion it contains the best favourite of the meeting. Dortmund is a serious Group 1 horse who has only ever been beaten in races won by American Pharoah and California Chrome which says everything about the top class company he has kept his whole career to date. He has a fantastic record at Santa Anita, and though he has been running in all the big 9f and 10f races in the last two years, he is still a perfect two from two in races over a mile. If he wasn’t trained by Bob Baffert he would probably be running in the Classic and would be third favourite, but instead he gets to hammer an ordinary field in a weak renewal of this contest.
Runhappy was last year’s Hollywood story in winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint but the story then took some dramatic twists and turns. Runhappy ran once more winning the Group 1 Malibu Stakes here at Santa Anita, and then didn’t run again until a few weeks ago when he was a disappointing fourth behind Tom’s Ready. There is nothing about his profile that makes me think he can challenge Dortmund, indeed I’m not sure that Sprint form last year was even that special. He will make the pace, and then fall apart, leaving Dortmund to cruise to victory.
The two horses I like for the places are the consistent and durable three year old Gun Runner and the specialist miler Tamarkuz. Gun Runner represents the best three year old form around, place in the Kentucky Derby, as well as a third behind Arrogate in that freaky wide margin Travers win. He should give a solid account of himself. Tamarkuz took time to settle in to American racing after some high class form in Dubai but his last two starts suggest he’s nearing his best again and he’s a cast iron specialist miler.
Selection: Dortmund (Nap)
Each way alternatives: Gun Runner and Tamarkuz
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Aidan O’Brien has won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf three times in recent years yet has still to win a Juvenile Fillies Turf. That will surely change soon. A quick look at the horses Aidan O’Brien has run in the Fillies version tells the tale. Mona Lisa was a thrice raced maiden, Qualify and Homecoming Queen were solid fillies around the 106 mark and Up ran a blinder in 4th when rated 107. When Aidan finally took one of his “A” grade two year old fillies for the race, that was Alice Springs and she was narrowly beaten in to second. Hyrdangea is rated 109 while Roly Poly is 114. These are two of Aidan’s top two year old fillies and they set the standard in this contest.
Aidan has asked Ryan to ride Roly Poly which tells its own story. She is clearly the number one choice. She is also beautifully bred being by War Front out of Irish 1000 Guineas winner Misty For Me. She was just touched off in the Cheveley Park, and prior to that only narrowly beaten by Queen Kindly in the Lowther. She brings top class Group 1 form to the table and the only worries are the draw and the trip. Ryan Moore proved on Hit it A Bomb last year that he is capable of overcoming a tough draw, and Roly Poly’s breeding gives real encouragement that she’ll improve for this step up to a mile. I think she has an outstanding chance.
Hydrangea also brings top class two year old form into battle but I worry that she won’t be quick enough at the vital moments to win around this tight turf circuit. She will try and bounce out and make the running , and her form is high class so she will surely be staying on to good effect at the end. Aidan’s son Joseph runs Intricately, a filly who beat Hydrangea a nose in the Moyglare Stakes. She was a 25/1 chance that day and had been beaten in her previous two starts so I can’t fancy her.
Spain Burg is a fascinating contender having won the Rockfel and then been sold for a huge amount to come and race in America. Her defeat of Fair Eva reads wel l and she is a danger to all. The American fillies don’t look particularly special although New Money Honey, Rymska and Coasted all seemed to contest the best trial, the Miss Grillo. New Money Honey won the race but was getting 6lbs from Rymska, and I suspect the latter filly will turn the tables and can nick a place at a big price.
Selection: Roly Poly
Each way alternative: Rymska
This is one of the races of the meeting and could well see the crowning of an equine superstar. Beholder has been the best dirt filly for years having won the Juvenile Fillies at two years old, and the Distaff at three. She has twice been beaten by Stellar Wind recently and it is difficult to be confident that she will overturn that form.
John Sadler trains Stellar Wind and is still searching for his first Breeders’ Cup win and Stellar Wind could well deliver. But both Stellar Wind and Beholder have to contend with a top class three year old in Songbird. She has won all eleven lifetime starts, and five of them have come at Santa Anita. She has the huge benefit of the winning –most jockeys in Breeders’ Cup history, in Mike Smith, and Smith was oozing confidence in her chance over the last few days. I think she will be very hard to beat.
Curalina and I’m A Chatterbox would be contenders in a typical year but there is nothing typical about this year’s field. I expect Songbird to prevail, with Stellar Wind preferred to Beholder for second place.
Don’t forget to head on over to Coral to place all of your bets for this year’s Breeders’ Cup meeting!