And this is Four Wheel Drive in the Futurity at Belmont Park.
The most obvious obstacle to the European contingent, which also include King Neptune (Aidan O’Brien), Band Practice (Archie Watson), Alligator Alley (Joseph O’Brien), Dr Simpson (Tom Dascombe) and Dream Shot (James Tate) is a familiar one.
Wesley Ward has become a familiar figure in the winners’ enclosure at Royal Ascot in recent years, unleashing juveniles in particular which seem capable of remarkable bursts of five-furlong speed. His two runners here, Kimari and Four Wheel Drive, are currently inseparable at the top of the on-track betting at 2-1. Here’s Kimari’s last race, the Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland.
The first winner of Breeders’ Cup 2019 will be returning in triumph in just over half an hour. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint was a race on the undercard until 12 months ago and one in which the British and Irish often did quite well but the visiting juveniles came up short in its first year as a Breeders’ Cup event and they are up against it again this time if the betting is any guide.
A wide draw has really dented the chance of A’Ali, who looked tailor-made for the race when he took the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot:
Good evening, good afternoon or perhaps even an early good morning, if you’re in Japan and too excited to sleep. I’m here at Santa Anita racecourse in California, perched about five floors above the finishing line, ready to blog live throughout the next two days of racing at Breeders’ Cup 2019.
The meeting begins today with the five events for two-year-olds: two on dirt, and three on turf, including the Juvenile Turf Sprint which made its debut at last year’s meeting. The European team – which pretty much means Britain and Ireland at this year’s meeting – fields fancied runners in all three turf events, including two favourites: Arizona, in the Juvenile Turf, and Albigna, Jessica Harrington’s first Breeders’ Cup runner in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf.
On the dirt, Dennis’ Moment and Eight Rings are vying for favouritism in the Juvenile, a race could well determine the early favourite for next year’s Kentucky Derby, while the Juvenile Fillies’ is wide open, and any one of four fillies – Donna Veloce, British Idiom, Bast and Wicked Whisper – could conceivably set off as the punters’ pick.
Regardless of which horses come home in front, the most important thing this afternoon will be to get them all back safe, after the traumatic months in the first half of the year when 30 horses died either racing or training at Santa Anita. There’s more on that story here and here, while my personal picks for today’s five Breeders’ Cup races are: Kimari (Juvenile Turf Sprint), Decorated Invader (Juvenile Turf), Wicked Whisper (Juvenile Fillies’), Albigna (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Dennis’ Moment (Juvenile).
It’s going to be a very busy weekend of racing Stateside and I look forward to sharing it with you as the 14 races find their winners.