Our racing expert gives his verdict on the action on the Churchill Downs action.
6:04 1m3f Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1) (3yo+ Fillies & Mares) (Turf) (3yo+)
There is a strong raiding party for a race that has been good to the Europeans, with eight victories to show from the last 19 runnings, and Charlie Appleby’s Wild Illusion tops the betting after winning a rock-solid renewal of the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp. Representing last year’s winning team, she is much preferred to Dermot Weld’s Eziyra, whose chance has been seriously compromised by an outside draw (14 of 14). But on pure ability there’s not that much between Wild Illusion and MAGIC WAND, who came out on top when they clashed in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, and the Ballydoyle filly is much the better value of the pair at Hills’ 8/1.
7:36 1m Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+)
Aidan O’Brien has four running for him in that is a wide open renewal and, on jockey bookings, his number one hope is Gustav Klimt, the mount of Ryan Moore. However, Moore’s task has been considerably more difficult by a wide draw (13 of 16) and preference is for his stablemate HAPPILY, who will exit from stall three. A dual Group 1-winning juvenile in 2017, she’s yet to get her head in front after six attempts this year, but she has been consistent in defeat and only found Laurens a head too good in a Newmarket Group 1 (1m) last month. She looks to be peaking at just the right time and today’s slow ground is a help too. At 7/1 with bet365, she’ll do for me.
8:56 1m4f Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Turf) (3yo+)
It’s fantastic that we get to see dual Arc winner ENABLE again in 2018 and while she’s no betting proposition at best odds of 8/13 (bigger on the pari-mutuel, perhaps?), she’s hard to oppose. Only 85 per cent fit according to her trainer John Gosden, who is not prone to exaggeration, she’s entitled to produce a better display than the one she gave in France last month, especially as she has the dig in the ground she needs to show her very best. The tight turns of this track shouldn’t inconvenience her either given that she has won at the likes of Chester and Epsom previously and while Arc winners have a poor record in this (0-8), she’s had a much lighter campaign than those who have tried to do the double previously. Magic Wand, who finished well behind Enable at Longchamp but has since progressed to win on Champions Day at Ascot, is forecast material.
9:44 1m2f Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Main Track) (Dirt) (3yo+)
Likely favourite Accelerate has improved to win five of his six starts over 1m1f-1m2f this year, including four Group 1s in California, but he’s been done no favours by the draw (14 of 14) and that makes him opposable at the odds. It’s hard to see Roaring Lion taking to dirt after a long season on turf and I reckon it’s a case of choosing between the Bob Baffert-trained pair of West Coast and MCKINZIE. The former was perhaps too fresh for his own good when behind Accelerate last time, but he was only third in this race 12 months ago and his younger stablemate might improve last him. A quirky sort who tends to flash his tail under pressure, he’s now won four of his five starts, including the Grade 1 Penn Derby (1m1f) last time out, when giving the impression today’s extra furling won’t be a problem. He has to be the pick for a trainer that has won this race three times with three-year-olds since 2014.
All odds were correct at time of posting.