While the field for the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita remains in flux, one thing seems certain—it won’t be the strongest renewal ever contested.
With defending winner Enable
passing the race—
and with fellow European standouts Waldgeist
seemingly unlikely to run—
the potential field has lost some of its star power. On the other hand, this could open the door for the often-overshadowed American runners to shine on their home turf.
Here’s how I see the race shaping up.
Bricks and Mortar
Although Bricks and Mortar has never run 1 1/2 miles, there’s no reason to think this son of Giant’s Causeway won’t thrive if trainer Chad Brown sends him to the Turf. Bricks and Mortar has six wins from six starts since he returned from a long layoff last winter, with impressive victories in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), Old Forester Turf Classic (G1), Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1) and Arlington Million (G1). And he has shown no signs of stamina limitations. With his powerful turn of foot, Bricks and Mortar is a beast among American turf horses and can give the home team its first Breeders’ Cup Turf success since Main Sequence in 2014.
Last year’s Turf runner-up is taking a familiar route back to the race. Just like last year, when she used the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and a race on Champions Day at Ascot as her springboard to the Turf, Magical followed up her fifth-place effort in this year’s Arc with a win against males in the Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot. That strong performance figures to secure this Aidan O’Brien-trained daughter of Galileo a ticket to Santa Anita.
The world-traveling Old Persian has picked up victories in the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan and the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine this season. He can't quite hold his own at the group 1 level in Europe, but the Breeders’ Cup Turf is often an easier spot by international standards. Old Persian was much the best in the Northern Dancer, where he demonstrated his ability to handle the journey to North America, and trainer Charlie Appleby’s 3-for-6 record in the Breeders’ Cup warrants respect.
Anthony Van Dyck
Anthony Van Dyck didn’t have much luck in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1)
, where he finished a distant ninth, but the son of Galileo bounced back in a big way this year with a score in the historic Investec Derby (G1) at Epsom to become a British classic winner. After a solid third behind Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1), O’Brien opted to withdraw Anthony Van Dyck from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and aim the colt for Santa Anita instead, where the expected firm turf should be to his liking.
Arklow wasn’t disgraced when he finished fourth in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf, and after a frustrating streak of near misses in stakes company during the spring and summer, he broke through with a gutsy, pace-tracking victory in the 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at Belmont Park. Trainer Brad Cox has Arklow peaking at just the right time for the Breeders’ Cup, and beyond Bricks and Mortar, Arklow appears as good or better than any of the other North American hopefuls for the Turf.