Leading the charge for the European contingent at this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic is American-born but Irish-bred Henrythenavigator.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com list the thoroughbred at 10/1 alongside stablemate Duke of Marmalade and behind only 6/1 Raven’s Pass and heavy favorite Curlin.
While he’s somewhat of a mystery in the U.S., Henrythenavigator has shown considerable class on European tracks, winning four consecutive Group I stakes this year. The fact that he won these on four separate courses suggests good versatility. Henrythenavigator first distinguished himself among European three year-olds before moving on to beat older horses as well.
European backers are expressing considerable confidence in this year’s crop. Said Colonel John trainer Eoin Harty, “The European group here is by far the best we’ve seen in the Classic. With the synthetic surface you have to respect them.” If that’s the case, Henrythenavigator may be worthy of consideration.
At the same time, it must be noted that Henrythenavigator is venturing into new territory in more ways than one on Saturday. Aside from running on his first non-turf surface, he’ll be asked to exceed a mile for the first time and will be making his first left-hand turn in a race.
While the horse has flashed the type of speed and athleticism that will be needed in the Classic, he may not have a full tank for extra distance after brutal turf wars in Europe, followed by a trip across the pond. There is risk here that trainer Aidan O’Brien’s horses may have peaked already and, on these grounds, there may be better options in the Classic.
By: CHRIS ROCCO
2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic Odds - 25th October 2008 – Santa Anita
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Posted: 10/25/08 1:30 PM ET
Chris Rocco is a professional sports handicapper and founder of Rock Box Sports. His analysis and selections for sporting events of all kinds can be found at daily at his website www.rockboxsports.com