The 2017 Breeders’ Cup has a unique feel unlike many of the past iterations. Usually within a Breeders’ Cup, one or two races come up a little short. Over the years, races like the Filly and Mare Sprint or Turf Sprint haven’t always felt like major races. Last year, even the Sprint didn’t feel like a major Breeders’ Cup event. However, you cannot say that about this year’s races. Each of the thirteen contests feature horses that you don’t want to miss. When it comes to the overall quality of each race, this Breeders’ Cup may be one of the best ever.
Here is how we rank the races in order of how excited we are for each one:
The race for Horse of the Year comes down to 1 1/4 miles over the Del Mar oval. Arrogate seemed as though he was a lock for the award after his Dubai World Cup romp in March, but then he went zero-for-two where the surf meets the turf this summer. All the while, Gun Runner flourished at Saratoga and now might be favored in this race. However, you can’t forget about Collected, who loves Del Mar and beat Arrogate in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. Along with Collected and Arrogate, trainer Bob Baffert also has West Coast and Mubtaahij entered into the race. West Coast could lock up Three-Year-Old of the Year with a solid performance. The Classic truly is the race that could determine everything.
Can Stellar Wind finally get her Breeders’ Cup victory, or will one of the 3-year-olds jump up and beat her? From a quantiy standpoint, this is not a deep field, but quality-wise, it’s one of the most competitive Distaffs in recent memory. Paradise Woods, Elate, and Abel Tasman have all shown signs of brilliance this year as 3-year-olds, and you cannot forget about the older mare Forever Unbridled, who beat Songbird in her last start. It’s a star-studded race that will feature talent from all over the country.
This race has a tremendous amount of international flavor this year. Ribchester may be the best turf miler in the world and makes a surprise trip to the United States to run in this spot. America’s hopes rest on the shoulders of World Approval, a beast since cutting back to this distance. Other European dangers include Zelzal and Lancaster Bomber, while the ever-popular Canadian-bred Heart to Heart adds to the intrigue of the race. Top to bottom, this will be one of the deepest fields of the entire Breeders’ Cup, thanks the International horses adding so much value.
Defending champion Highland Reel is for another round in what might be the best betting race on the Breeders’ Cup card. Other European stars such as Decorated Knight and Ulysses are also here to make things difficult on the defending champion. Trainer Chad Brown enters a pair of dangerous horses, including back-to-back Grade 1 winner Beach Patrol. Also entered is Oscar Performance, the top 3-year-old turf horse in America. This is going to be one where anything can happen.
Think quality over quantity with this one. The field isn’t large, but it’s loaded with stars. Defending champion Drefong will be formidable here, but rising star Imperial Hint looks to have freakish talent. At one point this summer, Mind Your Biscuits was considered one of the best sprinters in the world, and he could prove that to be true here. California stars Roy H and Ransom the Moon add value to the race, while the 3-year-old Takaful has looked tremendous going 6 furlongs. This will be a showdown.
6. Filly and Mare Turf
It’s all about Lady Eli in this event. Now at the end of her career, the fan favorite could go out in style with a win after losing by a nose in last year’s edition. It would be the feel-good moment of the Breeders’ Cup if she pulls it off, but the horse that beat her last year is back, too. Queen’s Trust has not shown much since, though, so perhaps Lady Eli can turn the tables. You also cannot forget about European shippers Rhododendra and Nezwaah.
We could see racing’s next superstar in this one, as Bolt d’Oro looks to make it a perfect four-for-four. He’s already won twice at Del Mar and is also a back-to-back Grade 1 winner heading into the race. Free Drop Billy will most likely be the horse that bettors use against Bolt d’Oro, and Baffert has a sneaky-good horse in Solomini that seems to be improving at the right time. However, if the big horse shows up with his “A” game, then they’re all running for second.
8. Turf Sprint
More often than not, this is a forgotten race, but that couldn’t be further from the truth this year. American hero Lady Aurelia is entered here, which by itself is enough to get excited about. Earlier in the year, she went to Royal Ascot and was victorious for the second year in a row for trainer Wesley Ward. Last time out, she was defeated by Marsha, a filly that decided to cross the sea and give this race a try. World record holder Disco Partner is also shipping in for this one, adding to the field’s depth.
9. Filly and Mare Sprint
Another race that can sometimes get lost in the shuffle that won’t this year, thanks to a horse like Unique Bella entered. After missing several months with injury, she returned to win the Grade 3 L.A. Woman at Santa Anita last time out. Early in the year, she was beating horses like Abel Tasman easily, so the talent is there, but she’ll be up against a deep cast of older sprinters.
10. Dirt Mile
This race usually doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it seems to be a very competitive field lining up for the event this year. Del Mar specialist Accelerate will be formidable, but challengers Sharp Azteca and Mor Spirit are possibly the top two milers in the country when on top of their games. Also noteworthy: 3-year-old Practical Joke is undefeated when running at a mile or less.
11. Juvenile Turf
The American horses seem to be a little light coming into this race, but Mendelssohn is one that’s garnering a lot of attention. He’ll be formidable, along with a few other European contenders. This race attracted a whopping 27 pre-entries to make a tremendous betting opportunity on Friday’s card.
12. Juvenile Fillies Turf
Brown has a pair of rising stars here in Rushing Fall and Significant Form. Rushing Fall is very highly regarded and the Breeders’ Cup could be her crowning achievement. The Aidan O’Brien-trained September brings a strong international presence to the race, though, and could be one to watch on Friday.
13. Juvenile Fillies
The race is headlined by Moonshine Memories, unbeaten in three career starts, but she hasn’t been as flashy as her male counterpart, Bolt d’Oro. The 2-year-old fillies haven’t shown brilliance as a whole this year, which is why it ranks as the lowest race at the event.