One of the things I like to do just before Saratoga and Del Mar is make a shortlist for many of the BC races. The summer show peice meets are really the launching point for the road to the Breeders Cup so I like to have a look around an identify some key horse who I feel could wind up winners on championship day. I won't include any 2yo races since those divisions have yet to gear up. I will say this though. If any of the juvenile BC races winners have run yet they have surely not competed in anything beyond a maiden.
Flashy Bull - Although he has won at 9f his connections have made this his year end target. He is a very effective miler because of his ability to sit near the pace and make a big move 2f out. He has the quickness of a miler and he is in fantastic form.
King of the Roxy - He would be surely be 100/1 for this event if a future book were released but I think King of the Roxy will prove to be a most effective miler. He has some improving to do but i think the raw talent is there. He has never raced at 8f before but his best races have come at 7 or 7 1/2f.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Shaggy Mane - I know she just lost to River's Prayer but it was her first time on an off track and it's possible she wasn't well suited to it. She is extremely fast, she is a 6f specialist and her trainer is an expert at preparing a horse for a big performance on a big day.
Dream Rush - The sky is the limit if she keeps improving. She is classy enough to adapt once she faces older mares but she is also speedy enough to give any horse problems in a sprint.
Finsceal Beo - Europeans are overdue in this race and this quick firm ground loving filly could be just the one to halt the skid for foreigners. Her record in mile events is 6-3-2-0. Her only poor performance came on soft ground. She is a dual classic winner and very much in the mold of Six Perfections who was the last European to win this event.
Chinese Dragon - If I were to pick just one American horse for the Mile he would be the one. He is every inch a mile specialist he is 8-5-1-1 at the distance. His only off the board performance came in his last race. It was his second race off a year layoff and he was moving best of all in the stretch when the rail totally closed on him and he never got out. He was 7th but only beaten by 2 lengths. He never got a run, had he gotten a clean stretch run he may have been the winner. He has had some injury problems in his career but he is devilishly quick and very brave. He is a very agile horse and can easily adapt to a hectic race like the BC Mile, it also helps that he is talented enough to beat anyone.
Turtle Bowl - This is an obscure horse, even for Europeans. He is not widely known or accomplished. He is a G-1 winner but it was the Prix Jean Prat in 2005 hardly a mainstream G-1. But what he has done is manage a few good close finishes to horses like Manduro and Ramonti. He beat Ad Valorem as well. He has a preference for firm ground and is Breeders Cup nominated. Look for him to gear up in the fall. He could be very dangerous if he comes.
Karen's Caper - 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.
Diabolical - I think he is the leader of the sprint division in terms of talent and suitability to the conditions. He can run near the pace or off of it and is a monster at 6f. He also happens to have good form over the track at Monmouth.
Smokey Stover - I am worried that he has never been successful outside California but in one respect that fact should just increase the price on a very talented horse. Give him a dry track and I think he is very capable. I expect that he'll only have one or two more starts before the Breeders Cup so he may fully recover his reputation by BC day but his talent will still be there.
Songster - I'm not sure exactly how good he is but his debut this year was powerful and if he keeps it up he could be the favorite for this race.
Benny The Bull - I love to toss the odd longshot in there. Benny is an under rated closer who has yet to be class tested but has figures that are more than good enough. In fact his raw times and speed figures suggest he is one of the 5 fastest 6f horses in the nation. Since I love closing sprinters in the BC I don't mind backing him to make the class jump. The Sprint division certainly has the least disparity between class levels.
Filly & Mare Turf
Honey Ryder - Class tells in this event and Honey Ryder is the classiest mare in the division. I think she is better suited for this race than Citronnade because of the distance and her prior experience over the track. She is the model of consistency and is America's best hope.
Peeping Fawn - She looks like the top 3yo filly in Aiden O'Briens barn which makes her an excellent candidate for success. She has been effective from 8f to 12f and has already captured a G-1 stakes race against older mares. No word on whether or not she is planning to come but she is nominated and her stable routinely sends a team. She would be very tough, there is a slight suspicion that she is better on soft ground but you never can tell what conditions will be like.
Rags To Riches - I have her listed for this race because I do not think her connections will try the Classic. Rags To Riches appears to be well superior to anything else out there at the moment. One could make an argument for Nashoba's Key but she is untested on dirt and is unlikely to run on conventional dirt prior to the Breeders Cup. Unless Rags is over the top in the fall she might be the lock of the day.
The Tin Man - Some people may assume that I have him in the wrong race but I think The Tin Man is America's best hope. He is underrated at 12f and I think many people assume that since he hasn't often raced at 12f that he is not good at it. In actuality he is very effective at 12f. The only reason he was not in the BC last year is because he was off in the mornings, not because his trainer was scared of the conditions. The Tin Man's highest career Beyer Speed figure actually came in a 12f race. He won the San Luis Obispo in 2003 and received a 111 for it. He has also been 4th in two consecutive runnings of the BC Turf. Those years featured High Chaparral, Falbrav and others, they were very tough fields and he is a better horse now. He is the only horse from America that I cant envision winning this race.
Manduro - He is the best horse in Europe right now and is conditioned by Andre Fabre who certainly knows his way to the Breeders Cup. If he shows up it could be curtains for his competition.
Notnowcato - This horse reminds me a bit of Kalanisi. He is most effective at 10f but a 10f horse in Europe is a 12f horse in North America. He is a 3 time G-1 winner and has beaten Dylan Thomas, Authorized, George Washington and Ouija Board but oddly has not been well backed in any of those starts.
Maraahel - Maraahel is a horse I liked for this race last year but his connections declined to send him. He is a firm ground specialist who is classy and adaptable. He does not always win but he is very solid and could easily handle the Americans.
Curlin - I consider Curlin to be the favorite for this race. I think by the end of the year he is going to be the best horse in the nation and he should prove it on Breeders Cup day. We'll get a feel for how he likes Monmouth in the Haskell.
Street Sense - I respect him because of his trainers uncanny ability to have his horse ready to fire on the biggest days. I do think he is slightly worse than Curlin but Asmussen is not a renown BC trainer, Nafzger is. And with a horse as good as Street Sense he win another big one.
Fairbanks - I just wanted to include someone who wasn't the top two. I don't like that he got beaten by non-stayer Political Force in the Suburban but I think he is capable of breakout performances. If for some reason Hard Spun is not in the Classic Fairbanks might end up the controlling speed and Monmouth is pretty kind to speed horses.
Surf Cat - I still believe this horse to be one of the most talented animals in the nation. I don't know if he'll handle 10f, I don't even know if he'll stay healthy long enough to compete in the Breeders Cup. All I know is that he is a scary horse when he's at his best.