The Breeders’ Cup is just over two weeks away. I’m going to be there, so I couldn’t be more excited about it drawing near. We’ll look at specific races in more detail as we draw nearer the event, which is at Santa Anita in greater L.A. on October 24 and 25. For now, though, I wanted to give a quick watch list for those of you who only follow the ponies on the big racing days in May and October. These are some of the horses that you’ll be hearing a lot about between now and the big days:
This race on Friday should be the coronation of the queen of North American racing. Zenyatta is one of the two best female horses in the world (the other is Zarava, the filly that just won the Arc de Triomphe). She is comfortable on the synthetic racing surface at Santa Anita, having just demolished Hystericalady, one of the prime contenders in the division, on the surface last time out. This four year old has never lost in eight races. She is massive, and has legs that never end. Outside of Curlin and maybe Big Brown, no horse on the entire card is as good as this filly. Anything can happen in racing, but this horse will almost surely be the lowest priced horse on the two days, and she’ll still be worth a look.
This is the second best head-to-head clash of the weekend. Two horses – Sky Diva and Dream Empress – are coming off races in which they made the rest of their opponents look totally ridiculous. Two year olds are typically tough to call, but this race is surprisingly one of the more formful ones on the card every year. Classy horses often come out on top, and this we certainly seem to have class.
It’s horses like Square Eddie that help make the Breeders’ Cup so fascinating. This horse spent the late summer campaigning in Britain. Paul Reddam, a prominent owner who has two Breeders’ Cup wins under his belt, saw the horse run in England at the beginning of September, was very impressed, and so he bought the horse. He flew to Kentucky on a Tuesday. That Saturday he went out at Keeneland and crushed a solid field in the Breeders’ Futurity. That race was run on a synthetic surface as the Breeders’ Cup will be. It’s hard to know what we have with this horse, but if you saw the race it is very hard not to be excited.
This is the one everyone wants to see. Maybe. All summer the connections of Big Brown and Curlin have been talking smack. Meanwhile, the horses have been mostly looking good (with the obvious exception of the Belmont for Big Brown). Curlin is clearly the best horse in training in the world. Big Brown is a freakish, though frustrating, talent. If they meet on the track there could be fireworks. Curlin wasn’t being aimed at this race, even though he won it last year, because his owner didn’t like the synthetic surface. Things have appeared to change, though. Curlin is working out at Santa Anita, it seems to be going well, and it looks good for the showdown to happen. I’m a huge Curlin guy, and I have the losing Kentucky Derby win ticket to prove it, so I know where my heart will be. My head says that it will be a classic. Pun intended.