Breeders' Cup Preview: Meet the 14 entered in the Mile
By Bob Ehalt
If picking a winner of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) proves to be as hard as settling on a betting favorite, handicappers may want to keep headache medicine nearby as they peruse the past performances of the 14 starters.
In perhaps the most wide-open betting contest of the 14 Breeders’ Cup stakes, the Mile not only features a generous 5-1 favorite, but there are five starters grouped between 5-1 and 8-1 in the morning line who could easily supplant that one as the wagering choice by post time at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
That 5-1 choice is Polydream, a 3-year-old filly from France, who is coming off a poor showing in the Qatar Prix de la Foret (G1) on Oct. 7. The daughter of Oasis Dream finished seventh that day, beaten 3 ½ lengths as the 3-2 favorite, but had a rough trip as she was stuck along the rail with a furlong left.
Prior to the seven-furlong Prix Foret, Polydream triumphed in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.
Polydream wound up with post four at Monday’s Rood and Riddle post position draw.
Right behind are a trio of Americans at 6-1.
Oscar Performance (post 5) already owns a Breeders’ Cup victory, having won the 2016 BC Juvenile Turf (G1) for trainer Brian Lynch and Amerman Racing. A dual Grade 1 winner at three, Oscar Performance was pulled up in the mile-and-a-quarter Arlington Million (G1) but earned a free ticket to the BC Mile by rebounding in his last start and posting a 1 ½-length score in the Woodbine Mile (G1), a Breeders’ Cup Challenge stakes.
The 4-year-old colt is a spotless 3-for-3 at a one-mile distance.
“If you take out the Arlington Million from the mix, you have to feel good about his chances. He’s fast and he should like the distance,” Lynch said.
Analyze It (post 12) came into 2018 for trainer Chad Brown and owner William H. Lawrence off two impressive wins at a two. Yet the son of Point of Entry ran into a buzz saw when he lost two stretch duels by a neck and then a head to eventual Travers Stakes (G1) winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) starter Catholic Boy in the Pennine Ridge (G3) and Belmont Derby (G1).
Since then, he was second in the Secretariat Stakes (G1) at Arlington and fourth most recently in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland, his first start against older horses.
Catapult (post 10), owned by Woodford Racing and trained by John Sadler, enters Saturday’s tussle off wins in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (G1) and Eddie Read Stakes (G1), both at Del Mar.
Sadler is hoping for a win that will end his 0-for-41 drought in the Breeders’ Cup in advance of saddling Accelerate later in the card as the 5-2 favorite in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Even before the BC Mile, Sadler could find Breeders’ Cup redemption when he sends out the undefeated Catalina Cruiser, the 8-5 favorite in the BC Dirt Mile (G1).
At 8-1 comes Juddmonte Farm’s Expert Eye, who was third in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, an important Group 1 stakes in France. Rallying in the final stages of the one-mile stakes, Expert Eye lost by 1 ¼ lengths in that Sept. 9 contest.
Expert Eye drew post seven.
Adding to the possibilities, the list of three horses at 10-1 odds includes Next Shares (post 2), winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile at 23-1 odds, I Can Fly (post 8), who lost by a neck to BC Classic entrant Roaring Lion in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) at Ascot, and Gustav Klimt (post 10), who was fourth in the Prix Foret.
And, just for fun, the horse that beat Polydream and Gustav Klimt at 47-1 odds in the Prix Foret, One Master (post 1), is priced at 12-1.
Any way you look at it, the BC Mile is a handicapping puzzle, but, with all of those attractive prices, at least there should be a nice reward on the toteboard for those wise enough to solve it.
The complete field for the BC Mile, in post position order, lists: 1. One Master, 12-1; 2. Next Shares, 10-1; 3. Happily, 15-1; 4. Polydream, 5-1; 5. Oscar Performance, 6-1; 6. Almanaar, 12-1; 7. Expert Eye, 8-1; 8. In Can Fly, 10-1; 9. Hunt, 30-1; 10. Catapult, 6-1; 11. Lightning Spear, 20-1; 12. Analyze It, 6-1; 13. Gustav Klimt, 10-1; 14. Mustashry, 15-1.
The BC Mile will be the eighth race on Saturday’s 12-race card and will be aired by NBC at approximately 3:36 p.m.
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With a strong closing rush inside the final 100 yards, Johnson, Kantor and Mitchell’s 4-year-old gelding Do It Again (SAF), trained by Justin Snaith, caught front-running Soqrat (AUS) at the wire to win the one-mile R1.5 million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth Racecourse.