So the season is nearly halfway done and as is my custom I start looking around at how certain divisions are stacking up. I also cast an eye over possibilities for the Breeders Cup races. Today at Royal Ascot there were two G-1 races run at 8f so naturally I wondered how those horses might do if sent to America.
Ramonti won the Queen Anne with the well backed George Washington running 4th but only beaten by a long neck for the win. It really was quite the race which you should be able to watch here (Queen Anne). Thinking about the Breeders Cup though I don't see Ramonti being the type to get it done. He is a tough customer but he has an awkward way of going and likes to be aggressively ridden but he doesn't actually have very much pace. He looks all wrong for America. George Washington could be tough if he returns to full form and actually goes for the Mile. He should come on for the run and if he's well both he and Ramonti should be at Monmouth because they're Coolmore and Godolphin horses. But the really interesting horse from this race is Turtle Bowl. He ran third, just barely beaten, and this, I think, confirms that he is quite capable on the right day. He has a preference for firm ground although he rarely gets it in France. I also find it notable when french horses do well at Ascot. Generally the French are primed for fall racing and they will often get better after the summer. Turtle Bowl races for obscure connections but is Breeders Cup nominated. He might be just the sort.
The other race from Ascot today was the St James's Palace Stakes and it also featured a thrilling finish. The dual Guineas winner and hot favorite Cockney Rebel hung badly in the stretch and was 5th. The feeling is that he prefers a straight course and the BC Mile would look like a terrible gamble. The winner was the talented Ballydoyle horse Excellent Art. He came from last to nail his stablemate on the wire but I feel that this race more or less suggested that none of these 3yo milers are very good at the moment. It was a full 2 seconds slower than the Queen Anne that was run just half an hour later. Unless leaps of improvement are seen over the summer be very skeptical of any 3yo miler from Europe.
Don't forget as well that Americans have taken the last three renewals of the BC Mile. In fact they've even swept the top three placings in the last two years so Europe may not be the best place to look for a winner. But I did have quite a time deciding which American milers have the best shot. Obviously we've seen Kip Deville do well but then he also failed badly in his last test. The tin Man, the horse who beat him, is not even really a miler and it would be shocking if he were even pointed for the 8f BC race.
So who are the best milers in the US at the moment? I had a hard time deciding so I thought I'd pull some video from the pertinent races.
Just A Game
Maker's Mark Mile
Frank Kilroe Mile
From those videos Kip Deville surely comes off as the best, but really is he a championship caliber horse? It's a shame Showing Up is not around for a full campaign. The horse who has actually achieved the season's highest 8f Beyer speed figure is My Typhoon. She got a 107 for beating Wait A While in the Just A Game, but in that race she controlled the pace and just spurted away in the end. That wouldn't work in a race like the BC Mile. I am actually quite interested in another filly. Karen's Caper is trained by Bobby Frankel and owned by Stonerside farms. She started her career in Europe and despite running close on several occasions she never got herself a G-1 win. Since coming to America she has had good races and bad races but most of her best performances have come over a flat mile. The 112 she got in last year's First Lady is actually the highest 8f BSF figure achieved by any horse currently in training. She made her 2007 debut in the Eatontown which is 8.5f. She won the race well and got a 105 BSF for it. The performance is also notable because it came on the track where the Breeders Cup will be hosted. Fillies have a decent record in the Mile and she has all the tools. If campaigned properly Karen's Caper could have a big shot.
If there were a Future Book open for the BC Mile I would probably look to get on Karen's Caper and Turtle Bowl. I'll be watching the pair of them intently over the summer and fall.