Breeders Cup Turf

Breeders Cup Turf

Breeders' Cup Turf Field and Analysis
by T.O. Whenham

The Breeders' Cup Turf makes me tired just thinking about it. It's such a long race (a mile and a half), and the turf itself can be so grueling and challenging that it is truly an endurance test of the highest order. The horses that are pointed to this event, though, are cut out specifically for the unique challenges of the event. Given the difficulty of the event, it's not surprising that the field will not be full this year. As it looks now, only nine horses will enter the starting gate. What the race lacks in quantity, though, it more than makes up for in quality.

Given the small field it's a strange circumstance that we have two former winners of the race running on Saturday. Red Rocks is back to defend the title he brought home last year, while Better Talk Now, a grizzled eight-year-old veteran, won in 2004. Red Rocks hasn't had a particularly good year since his win. He was pretty poor in Dubai, he came back with a win in England, but then had two straight fourth-place finishes behind top European horses. As an added knock, six Turf winners have come back to defend their win, and none have been successful. Only one, in fact, has even made the board. Despite the flaws, it would be a mistake to view Red Rocks as an also ran - he wasn't particularly highly regarded last year when he won, either.

Better Talk Now deserves some sort of a medal for longevity. It would really help here if that medal caused the horse to run faster, because he'll need any help he can get to win here. Or at least that's how it looks on paper. He has run only three times this year, and missed his last start in August with a foot injury. Those three races were solid, though - he won the Manhattan and was third in the United Nations at Monmouth. He's won the UN before, so we know he likes the track and he only had one win before his 2004 win, so the lack of dominant form isn't a huge problem. He also managed to finish second last year in the Turf at 19/1. What I'm saying is that there is no solid reason to back this horse, but history has shown us that betting against him isn't a great idea. If the top runners have a rough day then Better Talk Now could pick up the pieces.

Neither of the former champions will be the favorite. That honor goes to Dylan Thomas, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, who will likely be the shortest priced favorite on the card. He has five wins and three seconds in eight starts against the best that Europe has to offer this year, and none of the horses that have beat him will be at Monmouth. He destroyed Red Rocks in their only head-to-head of the year. The Arc-Turf was very soft, so he won't be phased by an off track. The downside exists, though - the Arc-Turf double seems like an almost impossible task with major races on two continents against top competition less than three weeks apart, and his only race on American soil, albeit on dirt, was a disastrous fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last year. At the price he will go off at, this is the type of horse you have to either back whole-heartedly or totally right off, because the value isn't there to go halfway.

English Channel is back this year, and he is likely the top American hope. He was third last year, and he had the race in hand before weakening down the stretch. This year started very poorly with an ugly 12th in the Dubai Duty Free. He fared much better upon returning to the States, though, with two wins and two seconds, all in grade ones, including a win in the United Nations at Monmouth. He's won the UN twice in a row, and set the course record at 1 3/8 miles each time, so he is a horse for the course. He's been the heavy betting favorite the last times he has run in the U.S., so his supporters will be happy that the price on him is unfamiliarly high. It will still be low, though, so the challenge is figuring out if it is too low.

Grand Couturier is a puzzler. He came over from France last year for the Sword Dancer and has never left. He hadn't given us much to like until the Sword Dancer this year when he upset English Channel. He came back from that race in the Man O' War, and ended up third. Sunriver was second in that race, and came back last weekend to be a dull sixth in the Canadian International, so the third place result doesn't look great. He was horrible in July at Monmouth, but that race was just a mile, so there is little directly to be learned even though he didn't appear to love the surface. On his best day he is obviously competitive, but the price would definitely have to be right to make him worth a look.

The rest of the field has far less sparkle. Fri Guy has never been better than fourth in grade one stakes, and hasn't measured up to other runners in this field in previous tries. Shamdinan wasn't competitive in Europe, had a grade one win here in the Secretariat against a weak field, and has since struggled at shorter distances. I don't see how he is remotely competitive. Transduction Gold has never run in higher than a grade three, and has only won at that level once.

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Re: Breeders Cup Turf

The Turf
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Breeders' Cup Breakdown

The Turf
1 ½ miles(T); $3 million; 3up; 4:50 Saturday

The History
It owns the distinction of being the only event that had a dead heat for win when High Chapparal, who was winning his second Turf in a row, dead-heated with Johar in 2003. Foreigners have won over half of the 23 runnings but Manila and Theatrical did the US proud back in the mid 1980’s.

Favorites: 8 for 23 (35%); Average Win Price: $23.88

The Best
It’s hard to argue that Dylan Thomas doesn’t deserve to be 7-5, the lowest priced morning line favorite in all eleven Breeders’ Cup races this year. He’s won three of Europe’s premiere events this year – the King George at the Royal Ascot meet in England, the Irish Champion Stakes in Ireland and the Arc de Triomphe in France – all G1 events. He’s 3 for 4 at the 1 ½ mile distance and is trained by Aidan O’Brien, one of the best in the business.

English Channel will look to run his record at Monmouth to a perfect three for three with a win in the Turf, a race he’s run in the past two seasons. He won the past two runnings of the G1 United nations over this course and busted through a hole along the inside like an animal unleashed in the G1 Turf Classic at Belmont going this distance in his most recent outing for trainer Todd Pletcher.

2004 winner Better Talk Now will look to become the eighth horse in the history of the Breeders’ Cup to win a race twice. Better Talk Now hasn’t raced since a third place finish in this years United Nations. He defeated English Channel two starts back in the G1 Manhattan at Belmont.

Like Better Talk Now, Red Rocks will also be trying to win this for the second time after flying past better Talk Now and English Channel in last years renewal of the Turf. He’s been an enigma since then, winning just a low-level G3 in England while not coming close to Dylan Thomas in two starts against him. Perhaps the Lasix he had in last years win will help him and his trainer Brian Meehan on Saturday.

The Rest Grand Couturier upset the Sword Dancer two back at over 15-1 before a third place finish in the G1 Man O’ War last out. Shamdinan won the G1 Secretariat in his first start in this country on Arlington Million day. Fri Guy just missed in the Kentucky Cup Turf after an off the board finish in the Sword Dancer. Transduction Gold won the G3 Sycamore at this distance at Keeneland last out at over 15-1.

The Scenario Fri Guy figures to be alone on the lead with Transduction Gold and English Channel following behind. Look for Red Rocks and Dylan Thomas to set up shop in mid-pack while Better Talk Now, Shamdinan Grand Couturier will be towards the rear.

The Strategy
I see this being the most formful race of the day and can’t imagine one of the top three choices not winning, especially Dylan Thomas who seems to have these over a barrel.

The Bomb
Shamdinan hasn’t run that well in his two starts since the Secretariat but he’ll be over 20-1 and is worth a flyer if you’re a longshot player.

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Re: Breeders Cup Turf

English Channel captures Breeders' Cup Turf
October 27th, 2007

Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - English Channel captured the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Monmouth Park. The win snapped a long Breeders' Cup losing streak for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Only eight grass runners left the starting gate in the 1 1/2 mile event. Dylan Thomas, rated as the top thoroughbred in the world, was the 4-5 favorite and English Channel was the 3-1 second choice.

Longshot Fri Guy set the pace with Shamdinan, English Channel and Transduction following. The pace was very slow as the field went through the six-furlong mark in just under 1:20.

Around the turn for home English Channel and Shamdinan were alone in front. English Channel, ridden by John Velazquez, kicked away from the field to record a seven length victory.

Shamdinan finished second followed by 2006 champ Red Rocks and 2004 winner Better Talk Now.

English Channel, third in last year's running, covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:36 4/5 on the soft going.

Owned by James Scatuorchio, English Channel has won three of his last four starts and adds $1.5 million to his earnings. In his career the five-year-old has won 13 of 23 races for better than $5.2 million.

This was Pletcher's first Breeders' Cup victory since the 2004 Sprint with Speightstown.

English Channel paid $8.00, $4.40 and $3.00. Shamdinan returned $17.60 and $9.40, and Red Rocks paid $4.60 to show.

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