Is she good enough?
Firstly, Alpha Centauri is all class. Having won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, she went to Royal Ascot and broke the track record in the Coronation Stakes, winning by six lengths in a time of 1:35:89, more than a second faster than the previous holder, Barney Roy.
The Ascot performance earned a Racing Post Rating of 123, which would be more than enough to win any of the last five Breeders Cup Miles (next best being 121).
We’ll see her next in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on Friday where she is an odds-on favourite.
Will she run?
With this being an antepost bet, stakes will be lost if she doesn’t run. Thankfully, there are plenty of reasons to believe she will line up at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in November.
First of all, her trainer, Jessica Harrington, said on Racing UK’s “Luck on Sunday” that the Breeders Cup would “definitely enter calculations”.
Her owners, the Niarchos family, are regular patrons of the Breeders Cup. They’ve won the Mile a record six times with Karakontie (2014), Six Perfections (2003), Domedriver (2002) Spinning World (1997) and crucially, Miesque, the great granddam of Alpha Centauri, and dual winner of the race in 1987 and 1988.
Miesque’s second victory came in gruelling track conditions. Despite the filly’s preference for good ground, Maria Niarchos reportedly never considered not allowing her to take her chance, saying “When you win the Breeders’ Cup, then you know why you come. You come to win!”
Alpha Centauri needs rattling fast ground to be seen to best effect, and while we obviously have no guarantees, we can be fairly hopeful that Kentucky in early November will provide just that.
The racing calendar looks to work out nicely too. After the Falmouth, the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville and Matron Stakes at Leopardstown could be next on the agenda (ground-permitting), before she gets on the plane to cross the Atlantic.
What about the opposition?
At this point in time, it looks like a rather weak Breeders Cup Mile. To go through the field in order of betting:
6/1 – Without Parole
Unbeaten in his four runs, Without Parole would certainly be a threat to the selection. But he will have to give her weight due to the sex allowance. He is also a far less certain runner than our Alpha. I’m yet to see the race being mentioned as a target. He has been brought along nice and slowly by trainer John Gosden, who had just one Breeders Cup runner last year, so I’m not sure he’ll be making the journey over in Autumn.
8/1 – Lancaster Bomber
Admirable though he is, he’s clearly vulnerable at the top level. He was beaten in the race last year and this year would be giving Alpha Centauri six pounds.
A good winner of the Lockinge, but disappointed in the Queen Anne at Ascot, and you’d imagine the Filly & Mare Turf would be a more likely target at the meeting.
12/1 Gustav Klimt
Posted his best RPR in defeat to Without Parole, but is yet to win a Group 1, and looks slightly below doing so.
12/1 Analyze It
Beaten on last two starts, most recently finishing less than two lengths ahead of Hunting Horn, who we would expect Alpha Centauri to comfortably dispose of.
Well beaten at Royal Ascot, and best RPR prior to that was 117. Shouldn’t be good enough.
14/1 World Approval
Last year’s winner, but hasn’t looked himself in the last two starts, finishing fifth at odds of ½, and sixth at odds of 11/10.
We are then into 16/1 and bigger, with lots of horses who don’t look likely to run.
So who then, can stop Alpha Centauri making it seven Breeders Cup Mile wins for the Niarchos family?
8/1 says nobody.