The Breeders’ Cup, racing’s $13 million day, takes center stage at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.
The important prep races are over. All that remains are final workouts, breezes and gallops. Between now and race day, it boils down to readiness for the horses and rhetoric from the media.
But there’s rarely any rhetoric from Gary Young, the candid Southern California-based clocker, bloodstock agent and gambler, not necessarily in that order, whose insightful opinions on racing in general, and in this instance, the Breeders’ Cup, are always a good read.
CLASSIC: “Pleasantly Perfect ran very good in the Goodwood. He’s probably going to get the same kind of pace in the Classic as he did in the Goodwood, which should help his style. I haven’t seen Medaglia d’Oro train and I don’t know what to make of his Travers win. He beat Repent and Repent came out of that race and laid an egg (finishing seventh to Evening Attire in the Jockey Club Gold Cup). Evening Attire ran OK (in winning the Gold Cup). Came Home worked terrific the other day (seven furlongs in 1:25 3/5 on Oct. 10). War Emblem is just going to be part of the pace brigade. I’m not nuts about the way he’s going, let’s put it that way. An Arcangues type of horse could win this race (referring to the horse that paid $269.20 in winning the 1993 Classic). If ever there’s a year where a grass horse could come from Europe and run on the dirt for the first time and win, it could be this year.”
DISTAFF: “I was very impressed with Take Charge Lady (in winning the Spinster at Keeneland), but if you get to the rail at Keeneland and you can run at all, it’s a horribly biased race track. I love the place, but horses that run on the rail win time and time again there. I’m an Azeri fan. I always have been. I’ve always liked Fardi Amiga, too, but she’s trying to climb a pretty high mountain to win off a layoff against older horses.”
JUVENILE: “Sky Mesa’s race at Keeneland (Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity ) was so-so. He was late changing leads, although a lot of horses have that problem at Keeneland. The numbers aren’t that great on Vindication, and I don’t know how long the horse is going to be around as far as next year, but he was very impressive winning his last race (Kentucky Cup Juvenile). That looked like a harness horse move. Hold That Tiger, who won on Arc day (the Grand Criterium at Longchamps), ran an unbelievable race. He exploded late. Whether he can do that on the dirt or not, I don’t know. Bull Market ran a better race than Kafwain in the Norfolk (although losing by the bob of a nose), but I don’t think either will win. Listen Indy could be a player in next year’s (Kentucky) Derby, but he won’t win this year’s Breeders’ Cup.”
JUVENILE FILLIES: Storm Flag Flying is the real deal. As long as she gets a dry track to run on, she’s the closest thing to a best bet I’ve seen.”
SPRINT: Orientate has been very impressive and you can’t take anything away from him, even though he’s coming off a layoff for this race. I’m so-so on the way Disturbingthepeace is training. Not because he’s a horse that I picked out (at the sales), but Crafty C.T. ran very good in the Ancient Title (second to Kalookan Queen). He should have won the race. He’s one of the few horses that’s run good out of the one hole at this meet, and with his style of laying right behind the speed, he’s going to get a good trip. If he gets in he has a chance. I think it’s beat Orientate to win the race.”
MILE: “Landseer was unbelievably impressive (winning the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland), yet Rock of Gibraltar (a winner of seven consecutive Group 1 races) just looks at him and goes, ”˜Adios.’ It looks like the winner will come from Europe. Touch of the Blues has the best chance of the American horses.”
TURF: “I don’t know why Coolmore sold Ballingarry, but I was impressed with him (winning the Canadian International), and I assume a European horse will win this race. With Anticipation was very disappointing (in the Turf Classic). The Tin Man is probably going to go to the front. I think one of those horses will win it.”
FILLY & MARE TURF: Golden Apples trained great for the Yellow Ribbon. If she holds that form, she gives America the best chance to win a turf race. Owsley ran good (in the Winstar Galaxy at Keeneland), but of the American turf horses, Golden Apples has the best chance.”
THE HOMESTRETCH: Thoroughbred Owners of California analyst Wilson Shirley reported at the organization’s October meeting that account deposit wagering through Sept. 30 totaled nearly $5.25 million for all breeds, with about $4.5 million of that going to thoroughbred purses. TVG’s handle increased to about $2 million per week during the Hollywood meet, and jumped again during Del Mar because of its six-day week, peaking at $3 million. Youbet’s weekly handle reached about $1.25 million during Del Mar, while Magna Entertainment peaked at more than $1.5 million a week during Santa Anita, but declined to about $250,000 per week during the summer, when it did not have the Southern California signal. Jim Ghidella, in his report on Northern California, said many trainers have shipped in from Washington, helping field sizes, but handles was still down about four percent and about 18 percent on the live product, indicating fans are betting more on out-of-state signals . . . Trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Jason Lumpkins will field questions and autograph pictures at the Gold Coast in Las Vegas next Monday.