In recent year’s the Breeders’ Cup Mile began to assert itself as a star-studded feature race. Superstars like the filly Goldikova and horses like Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom propelled the race from just another preliminary race leading up to the Classic.
Last year was the first year since 2007 the likes of a Goldikova or a Wise Dan would not run. It made for a deeply contentious race, which resulted in the Japanese horse Karakontie winning at generous odds of 30-1.
Although the attraction of a superstar athlete will enhance any sport past its core base, in the world of horse racing, the turf mile is one that may actually require the most athletic prowess.
It is a race that is essentially an extended sprint with tight turns and very little room for error. Every step of the race, jockeys must work on either gaining or maintaining a tactical advantage in order to give their horse a chance to win. This means that when the jockey asks for a middle move in the race the horse must be able to execute that at a high speed and still retain the ability to have enough turn of foot down the lane in order to complete the victory.
What made Goldikova and Wise Dan superstars within the sport was their ability to transcend the subtle mistakes that can cost a horse to win. Yet, their running styles and physical presence could not have been any different.
Goldikova was a diminutive filly that had push button acceleration. Her ability to drop into another gear was never more evident than when she ran in her first Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in 2008. The filly was so small in stature that she almost got lost in the mix of horses, yet it seemed that when she was at her best she would always have the ability to find another gear to put the colts away.
Wise Dan on the other hand ran like a running back you simply couldn’t arm tackle. In almost every race he ran he would have the target that all heavy favorites have on them. He would get bumped, trapped, jockeys tried to send him out wide, yet Wise Dan would not give up valuable ground. He always maintained enough position to run any contender down in the stretch.
This year Wise Dan was coming back nicely from an injury which kept him out of the 2014 Mile. The 8-year-old was training well and on schedule to get back in the gate for the mile, however an inflamed tendon was enough for trainer Charles Lopresti to call it quits for the gelding. If he were somehow able to make the race it would have been an impressive feet no matter what the outcome of the race.
What this year’s race lacks in star power it makes up in contentiousness. A field of 12 is scheduled to enter the gate as the 8thrace on Breeders’ Cup Saturday. The race will be the first leg of the pick 4 and the 3rd of the pick 6. There will be a good mix of foreign horses as well. The Japanese defending champ will break once again from an outside post, this time it will be from post 11. He will also once again offer generous value, as he is 12-1 in the morning line. The European contingent of five horses should take money at the windows. The European horses will be led by Make Believe (3), who is 3-1 in the morning line. Make Believe is ridden by Oliver Peslier, who rode Goldikova. In his last race the three-year-old won the Qatar Prix de la Foret at seven furlongs in a blistering 1:17. There will also be four fillies and mares running in the race. Led by the Irish bred Esoterique whose last race was an impressive victory in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot at Newmarket in Great Britain. World-renowned trainer Andre Fabre, who is no stranger to winning Breeders’ Cup races, trains Esotrique. The American filly is the four-year-old Tepin. In her last race Tepin absolutely freaked in the First Lady Stakes at Keenland Park. She won by seven lengths and earned a top Beyer Speed Figure of 108 for this field. Tepin should also offer generous value, as she is 12-1 in the morning line.