A month ago I posted my thoughts about Breeders Cup Contenders. Much has transpired since then and I think it's worth having another look at.
This race really suffers with the loss of Flashy Bull who even at this stage looked like the favorite. It will contain mostly horses who aren't good enough for the classic and I have only the same selection I had for this race a month ago.
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
Dream Rush - She already seems much better than the older mares. Her Test victory was really just a walk in the Park. Violette needs to keep her healthy and fresh for the big dance. Barring something unforeseen she will be a deserving favorite
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.
I am very disappointed with the loss of Chinese Dragon to retirement. He looked like an excellent prospect. The Americans have dominated this even in recent years but it's hard to identify the US's top miler. It may just be Shakespeare but I'm not convinced as yet.
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.
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. He most recently faced Manduro at Deauville and was manhandled after making a big challenge. That doesn't diminish him in my mind it merely confirms that he cant beat Manduro, especially not on ground softer than firm.
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. The problem here is that she hasn't run since her debut and has not worked in a month. If she does not get to work quickly she won't have any chance.
Tariq - He is not a miler in Europe, but rather a 7f sprinter but he would easily handle that distance on a flat track. He comes from the clouds and has excellent acceleration. His trainer has already indicated that this is his target and he loves firm ground. Although Monmouth favours speedy American type horses in the summer, it may be hard to deny what looks like a strong European team.
Diabolical - I thought this horse was the best sprinter in the land months ago and he's done nothing but win since then. He'll have the perfect preparation and will be tough to beat.
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.
Benny The Bull - He was not spectacular in his first try against the big boys of this division. But a 4th behind Diabolical is not bad. Especially on a track that was not kind to closers. I would prefer to see him gets some races under his belt.
Silver Source - This horse might be 500/1 just to even make the race but I have been very impressed with this Dutrow colt. He reminds me very much of Silver Train for the same connections. He has not yet come up with the big Beyer Figures but as he matures he might be able to compete at that level. Watch for him to possibly run in the King's Bishop, if not there then perhaps the Jerome.
Filly & Mare Turf
Honey Ryder - The flop in the Beverly D is of no consequence, her worst race last year came at Arlington as well and as long as she is fine physically I expect her to bounce right back. Royal Highness is every bit her equal but is unlikely to supplement for the race so she remains America's best hope.
Peeping Fawn - She has become a monster and although the worry over the ground still exists she might be in a different zip code than any other Turf filly or mare.
Rags To Riches - She has been inactive since last month but the news wire has been going constantly. At the end of it all it looks like she is headed to Belmont for one more prep race and she ought to right on track for the Distaff. The more I see from the rest of the division the more I'm convinced she is much better than them. Nashoba's Key is the lone wild card but perhaps some 3yo's like Lady Joanne or Folk might step up. The 3yo's are definitely better than the older mares.
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.
Street Sense - I respect him because of his trainers uncanny ability to have his horse ready to fire on the biggest days. His prep in the Jim Dandy was actually kind of scary for those looking to oppose him in the Travers. This horse has become a monster and perhaps only the track can derail him.
Any Given Saturday - He seemed to relish Monmouth and that makes him live for the Classic. I like Pletcher's proposed prep race in the Brooklyn. I have always thought the world of this horse. He is still a slight worry at 10f but he has more chance of getting it late in the fall when he is more mature than any other time.
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.