THE Breeders’ Cup has come to Keeneland, Kentucky for the first time this weekend. Horse racing expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) shares his favourite bets.
19.30 Keeneland | At The Races
The Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf course is a race that looks at the mercy of the European raiders and I’m very confident I have the winner here.
Time Test looked like a horse destined for the very top after winning at Royal Ascot but hasn’t quite reached the level anticipated. He won last time out over a mile and he’s still an unexposed sort but I don’t see this race being right for him. It’s a tight track and the turns won’t see him at his best as the pace horses will be seen to better effect here.
Make Believe won the French 2000 Guineas and the Prix De La Floret this season but I don’t think he’s quite top class. He flopped at Royal Ascot and the Floret was a relatively weak Group 1. Though the track will suit and he will appreciate the ground, I feel the best he can hope for is second behind his stablemate.
Esoterique has taken her form to a new level this season and is now one of the top milers around. She started the season slowly before chasing home Solow and Muhaarar in Group 1s.
She then took two Group 1 races of her own at Deuville before winning the Sun Chariot at Newmarket against her own sex. She comes here at the top of her game and I feel the track here will be ideal for her.
She is possibly better over seven furlongs and handles cut in the ground so the 5/1 (William Hill) on offer here is incredible value. I’m all over her tonight.
21.35 Keeneland | At The Races
The Breeders Cup Classic, worth 1.7 million to the winner, is the main event on the card. The race took a knock this week when top filly Beholder was withdrawn after a bad scope but it’s still a race full of Group 1 winners.
The race is all about American Pharaoh. He was an emphatic winner of the American triple crown earlier in the season and has looked a class act. He looked unbeatable during the early stages of the season but his winning run was brought to an abrupt and in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. That race has historically been a graveyard for top horses and every horse deserves an off day.
He was beaten under a length that day and his trainer Bob Baffert is convinced he is back to his best for this and is convinced he will win. This may be true, and I would love to see him win here, but I can’t back him at a shade of odds-on. He’s clearly the best horse in the field but he’s had an incredibly hard season and I think he’s vulnerable here. But what beats him?
Two weeks ago Gleneagles’ bubble burst in dramatic style where, after missing many engagements over the summer due to soft ground, he was massively disappointing at Ascot in the QEII. That said it was his first appearance in four months and it’s possible he wasn’t at his best there.
Looking back at the race he was only beaten by three lengths that day and I fully expect a better showing here. The step up in trip could suit and if you look at his breeding, he is related to dirt winners.
I’m not convinced the American 10 furlong horses are anything special apart from American Pharaoh and he could easily run in to a place here and possibly end Aidan O’Briens wait for this race if the favourite disappoints. I’m backing him each-way.
19.30 Keeneland – Esoterique to win (5/1 William Hill)
21.35 Keeneland – Gleneagles each-way (10/1 Betway)