On Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24, all horse racing fans around the world will be tuned to Keeneland, Kentucky for the Breeders Cup Festival. This annual event usually attracts the best horses on the planet and this year’s event will be no different. The very fact that it is taking place, with Covid-19 rampant around the world and especially in the US, is astonishing. The Breeders Cup meeting began as a one-day fixture in 1984 and was so successful that it was made into a two-day fiesta in 2007. Now, although it’s billed as a ‘World Cup for Horses’, a few facts must be stated. The first fact is that the meeting is always held in America, so that’s a huge disadvantage to the horses from Europe and the rest of the world. They have to travel halfway around the world at least three-to-five weeks before the meeting, allowing them to both quarantine and acclimatise to the new conditions. It’s not a convenient time to travel.
That obviously creates problems for animals that are, by breeding alone, highly strung. People get homesick and horses are no different. That gives American-trained horses the upper hand straight off. Then there are the different styles of racing between America and the rest of the world. European horses are used to steadily-paced races, which quicken up with three-to-four furlongs to go. In the States, as soon as those stalls open, it’s hell for leather for the line. Also, once they leave the stalls, it’s not pretty. It’s every man, and horse, for themselves, so shy guys would be advised to stay home. It will come as no surprise that of all the races run in the Breeders Cup, US trainers dominate. Actually, that might be an understatement: 272 wins, some way ahead of the second-best country, Ireland with 32. Great Britain comes third with 22, followed by France with seven. American trainers also lead the field. The legendary D Wayne Lukas has 20, followed jointly by Bob Baffert and Chad Brown on 15. In fourth place is Irishman Aidan O’Brien with 12. This is to his immense credit because he’s had by far the fewest horses of the other three. Plus he’s had to travel his horse 3,000 miles to do it. Jockey-wise, it’s home-based leading the way. Mike Smith has 26, John Valazquez 16, Jerry Bradley 15. Frankie Dettori holds up the European end with 14 wins.
On to the actual races. On Friday, the juvenile races form the cream of the card. The colts version is split into Grade 1 and 2. Grade 2 should go to Golden Pal, the 5/2 favourite. Grade 1, however, is much more open. Aidan O’Brien has two hot ones, Battleground, the 7/2 favourite and recent Newmarket Champions Day winner, St Marks Basilica. That was on October 10 and whether he has recovered from that for this test is open to question. In between the O’Brien pair, for the home team is Mustaabeq at 5/1. In the fillies version, Aidan’s son Joseph has a really good two-year-old in Pretty Gorgeous. At 7/1, she represents great value.
On Saturday, the Fillies and Mare Turf could develop into an all Irish affair. Aidan O’Brien’s Magical, Jessie Harrington’s Alpine Star, and Fancy Blue, trained by Aidan’s other son Donnacha. Joseph won his first Breeders Cup race last year with Iridessa in this very race. He also became the youngest trainer to win a BC race. His younger brother could usurp him in that department at 8/1. Yet there remains a nagging feeling that Jessie Harrington’s tough Alpine Star could outfight her to the line.
The next-best race is The Breeders Cup Turf and that’s mainly because it sees the return of Love. Aidan O’Brien’s wonderful three-year-old filly is simply the best horse in training. Bookmakers are underestimating her so take advantage. Sure, she’ll be up against, among others, Charlie Appleby’s hard as nails Ghaiyyath. Normally he would dominate any race he’s in but this is no normal race – It has Love in it. All you need is Love. The meeting’s biggest race is the Classic, worth a paltry $6m. Again, it’s an all-American affair and Bob Baffert holds a strong hand with Improbable and Maximum Security. Throw in Tiz The Law and you should have the winner. For a look at the best bookmakers to place wagers with, examine this Sportytrader list. With this article and that list, you have all you need to bet in an informed manner.