Every year at the Breeders’ Cup we have major storylines to discuss. American Pharoah, Zenyatta, Wise Dan, juveniles. You name it. Here are the five major storylines heading into this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
1. California Chrome Looks to Win the Big One in Front of his Hometown Fans
This is the most popular horse in America, but in California he is a complete rock star. The “Chromies” will be out in full force on Saturday at the Breeders’ Cup as their hero tries to cap off one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen. California Chrome is running at a level that cannot be matched by any horse in training right now, as he’s embarrassed world class horses in his last two starts. The field for this years Breeders’ Cup Classic looks weak compared to Chrome’s greatness, but a win for him in front of his hometown fans would be one of the more special moments in Breeders’ Cup history.
2. Songbird Tries to Keep Undefeated Streak Alive in Distaff
You are looking at what could be the best race of the Breeders’ Cup! Songbird puts her undefeated streak on the line against the best field she’s ever seen as Stellar Wind and Beholder are two of the best horses in the country regardless of gender. There is no doubt about it…Songbird better have another gear in this race or she will be defeated. Her speed figures don’t match up with Beholder or Stellar Wind, but most of her wins have been in hand. She won’t be able to win this one in hand. A showdown surely awaits between these three superstars.
3. Tepin Looks to Rebound in Breeders’ Cup Mile
The queen had her winning streak come to an end last time out as Photo Call wired the field in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland. Tepin still was able to finish second, but since coming back from Royal Ascot she hasn’t quite looked the same even though she did win the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in her first race back from overseas. Winning this race for the second year in a row would cap off an unbelievable season that would be worthy of Horse of the Year honors if it weren’t for California Chrome. Can she rebound from that loss at Keeneland and run a monster race in this spot?
4. Loaded Field Takes First Steps Towards Kentucky in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
This field looks loaded with horses that could be on their way to the Kentucky Derby. Flashy pedigrees can be found throughout this group, and distance pedigrees as well. In the past the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has not been the best producer of Kentucky Derby horses, but recently that trend has changed somewhat. Last year Nyquist won this race, and came back to win the Kentucky Derby in May. With horses like Classic Empire, Not This Time, Klimt, and Gormley lined up for this one it could definitely happen again. That’s just the top contenders, but the list goes on with this field…my expectations are high.
5. Lady Eli Tries to Complete Storybook Comeback in Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf
Two years ago Lady Eli confirmed her arrival as a super star at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with a resounding victory. Now she’s back…and lets just say a lot has happened in between these two starts. After winning the Belmont Oaks in 2015 the undefeated Lady Eli was becoming a monster, but disaster struck as she stepped on a nail and developed an awful case of laminitis. After fighting for survival she began to recover, and miraculously returned to the race track at Saratoga this summer. After finishing second at Saratoga she won the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont Park in her next start. A win in this one would mean so much, but just seeing her compete again is enough to make you smile.