Though the races at the Breeders’ Cup are, for the most part, more open in an international sense than the Major League Baseball’s World Series, the home team has traditionally dominated proceedings in the highlight of the American horse racing calendar. The European challenge in 2015 looked one of the strongest in recent years, with Derby and Arc winner Golden Horn making the trip along with 1000 Guineas winner Legatissimo and sectional monster Time Test, however, despite Aidan O’Brien’s pair of winners Found and Hit It A Bomb (both of which are back this time around), the result was an overwhelming victory for the U.S.A (Altogether now – U S A! U S A! U S A!).
After the dominance of the USA over Europe in this year’s Ryder Cup, we as a Brexit-divided continent need to stage a fight back against the Trump brigade – and we may just have a few good chances to do so on Saturday evening in Santa Anita with live hopes in five of the nine Grade 1 races taking place.
The first chance of Europe going ‘one up’ comes at 19:43 (there is no place for OCD sufferers in American race scheduling) in the Filly & Mare Turf, where O’Brien’s Irish Oaks winner Seventh Heaven tops the Timeform ratings; she wasn’t seen to best effect on Champions Day recently, and could bounce back. Sir Michael Stoute’s Queen’s Trust, who was beaten by Seventh Heaven in the Yorkshire Oaks earlier in the season, is seemingly still improving and could run well for the yard which took the race with Dank in 2013.
With David O’Meara’s Suedois unfortunately crocked on Thursday, European hopes in the Turf Sprint (at 21:05) now fall to Washington DC, who produced his best effort to date when finishing second in the Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc day last time, and Hugo Palmer’s Home of The Brave, who would likely be a popular winner in the Land of the Free.
The Turf has been one of the happier hunting grounds for Europe in recent years, and we have taken a whopping 12 renewals since the turn of the century. Once again, this looks one of our strongest chances of a winner, with last year’s heroine Found back for more, alongside proven globetrotter Highland Reel. Flintshire will be a leading hope for the home team, but he was born and raised on the streets of Chantilly, and would surely be a moral victory for Europe anyway.
One of the stranger/more enjoyable things about this week has been the lack of day-by-day bulletins from Henry Candy on whether the ground will be OK for his stable star Limato on the coming weekend. Limato has had an excellent – and light – campaign, however, and with the sharp mile at Santa Anita expected to be within his range, he looks to have a strong chance in the Mile at 23:40. His European comrade Alice Springs gives us a very realistic chance of bringing down last year’s winner Tepin.