A trainer, a jockey and a horse to follow at the 2020 Breeders’ Cup
Our man gives his thoughts ahead of the racing action
The Breeders’ Cup gets underway this evening and we’ve got two thrilling evenings of racing to look forward to.
And ahead of the action, our man Simon Clare has picked out a trainer, a jockey and a horse to keep an eye on.
Jessica Harrington has proved herself one of the great dual purpose trainers in the sport’s history, over a training career that spans four decades, but it took until last year for her to have a first taste of the Breeders’ Cup experience.
Her talented filly Albigna finished an unlucky fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf but one can assume that Jessica Harrington enjoyed the experience and now wants to make it a winning one as she is back for more with not one but three challengers.
The classy Cadillac looks to have the best chance in the Juvenile Turf but Oodnadatta could also go well if she can get a decent position from her inside draw in the Juvenile Fillies Turf either.
On Saturday, Cayenne Pepper runs in the Filly & Mare Turf and though the drop back in trip is a slight concern, she is a talented filly with some great form in the book. It would be no surprise to see Jessica Harrington add a Breeders’ Cup success to her long and distinguished roll of honour.
Irad Ortiz Junior
If you’re going to follow one American jockey at the Breeders’ Cup then follow Irad Ortiz Junior. He is quite simply the most gifted and ice-cool rider imaginable and operates at a phenomenal strike rate of nearly one winner every four times he throws his legs over a racehorse.
His Breeders’ Cup record is nothing short of sensational. Still only 28 years old, he has already won 9 Breeders’ Cup races from just 53 rides, a strike rate that no other jockey in the event’s history can match. Last year he rode four winners at the meeting and for the last two years has won the Bill Shoemaker award for the Breeders’ Cup’s best jockey.
It doesn’t matter what the price, or where he’s drawn, Irad Ortiz Junior gives every horse a ride, as evidenced by his 2017 victory in Filly & Mare Sprint on 66/1 shot Bars of Gold, one of the biggest priced winners in Breeders’ Cup history.
Irad Ortiz Junior has ten rides at this year’s Breeders’ Cup, bookended by his two best chances, Golden Pal in the first Breeders’ Cup race, the Juvenile Turf Sprint, and Improbable in the last Breeders’ Cup race, the Classic.
Imprimis in the Turf Sprint and Sharp Samurai in the Dirt Mile are two that also interest me greatly, but in truth you wouldn’t discount any of the 10 that he is getting the leg up on. Whatever happens, I wouldn’t mind betting Irad Ortiz Junior finishes the Breeders’ Cup meeting with plenty to smile about once again.
It would end one of the great racing mysteries if Tarnawa could win the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday. How has Dermot Weld never trained a Breeders’ Cup winner? He’s been trying for 35 years.
In 1985 he took two racehorses to the second ever Breeders’ Cup at Aqueduct, where Committed and Theatrical finished down the field in the Sprint and the Turf respectively.
Since then Dermot Weld has achieved the most incredible things across the world, both Flat and Jump. He’s earned two Melbourne Cup victories, the winner of the 2000 Guineas and The Derby in England, as well as more winners in Ireland than any other trainer in history.
He’s also the only European trainer to have trained the winner of a leg of the Triple Crown, when Go And Go won the Belmont Stakes in 1990.
America itself holds no fears for Weld, as he has trained multiple Grade One winners on this continent, and yet he remains winless at the Breeders’ Cup from 16 runners in the last 35 years.
Tarnawa could be the one to right one of the great racing wrongs. She only started her season in August and has won two Group Ones in France on her last two starts. She stays well but has top class form at 10 furlongs too, and the decent ground could well play to her strengths.
Her major rival Magical ran flat on Champions Day, while she looks primed and ready to peak again.
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