The Brock Talk

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oh Say Can You See? A British Turf Victory?

The Europeans may not be bringing into the 2010 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. 1) an armada the size of the British fleet that assaulted Fort McHenry during the battle of Baltimore of 1814, but the odds of an American victory are about the same. While Major George Armistead fought off the British naval bombardment; and General Samuel Smith, Rogers Bastion, Navy Commodore John Rogers and the boys defended Baltimore in the end, it is yet to be determined if homeland trainers Bill Mott, Richard Mandella, Steve Hobby and Christophe Clemente can pull the same upset.

According to Mike Watchmaker’s Daily Racing Form graded line, the American with the best chance at the Breeders’ Cup Turf this year is Paddy O’Prado at 8-to-1 odds, who may not choose to even run in the Turf for preference to take on Zenyatta in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. After that our American hopes lay with Winchester (10-1), the winner of the Turf Classic Invitation (gr. 1) at Belmont Park Oct. 2; Al Khali (10-1), winner of the Canadian International (gr. 1) at Woodbine Oct. 16; and California turf star Champ Pegasus (15-1), winner of two graded turf races in his last two starts including the Clement L. Hirsh at the Oak Tree meeting at Hollywood Park Oct. 3; and Telling (20-1), winner of the grade 1 Sword Dancer on the Saratoga grass the last two years but winless in his other 11 starts in 2009-’10.

The Euros have won 10 of the last 13 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Turf and apparently want to continue their dominance of the grass racing championship on American shores. The captain of the European flagship is Workforce (GB), winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (gr. 1) at Longchamp in France Oct. 3. According to the Crushing the Cup, eight of the last 15 Euro turf winners have come out of the Arc, but none of them out of the race’s winner’s circle. Prix de l’Arc de Triompe winners are winless in five tries in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, the last being 2007 Arc winner Dylan Thomas who later finished fifth in the Turf. The closest to pulling off the Arc/Turf double was Tremaplino, who finished second in the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Turf after winning the Arc.
But that hasn’t influenced the British punters who have Workforce bet down to the 2.4-to-1 favorite on the BetFair line or Watchmaker, who has him listed as the 2-to-1 favorite on his DRF graded line.

Workforce is a lightly raced 3-year-old colt who set the track record at Epsom winning the group 1 Epsom Derby in June, one of his three career victories from just five races. While trainer Sir Michael Stoute has the Arc/Breeders’ Cup jinx to break, the Turf Classic has historically been a race true to form with favorites producing an above average 35% victorious performances. And of course Sir Stoute has won the Breeders’ Cup Turf four times including the last two with Conduit.

But the prognosticator favorite now appears to be Behkabad (Fr), who finished fourth behind Workforce in the Arc in a troubled trip. Not only is Behkabad appealing to trip handicappers around the world, but it just so happens that Arc also rans have the successful history behind them as well.

Debussy (Ire) has already invaded the United States to plunder the Arlington Million (gr. 1) with his victory Aug. 21 at Arlington Park near Chicago. Trainer John Gosden returned him to Great Britain to run third in the Oct. 16 Champion Stakes (gr. 1) at Newmarket has plenty of support in his return American soil as Watchmaker has him listed at 12-to-1 in his DRF line.

Consider these recent winners of the Breeders’ Cup Turf: Conduit (Ire) (2009, 4th in Arc); Shirocco (Ger) (2005, 4th in the Arc), High Chaparral (Ire) (2003, 3rd in the Arc), Daylami (Ire) (1991, 9th in the Arc), Pulsudksi (Ire) (1996, 2nd in the Arc).

Yes the star and stripes may wave over Churchill Downs after the Breeders’ Cup Turf if the Patriots can somehow hold off the Red Coats Saturday. And if they do, the bombs won’t be bursting in air-they’ll be at the cash windows at the home of the brave.

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