The Breeders’ Cup Mile history is full of classic trans-Atlantic battles, and it should be more of the same again at Del Mar on November 4th.
Leading American horse World Approval, who has been revitalized since being switched to a mile, faces seven European-trained horses, including two with consistent group one form: Ribchester and Roly Poly.
Godolphin’s Ribchester would be the choice of most Europeans as their miler of the year. From five starts in Europe, all in group one races, he’s won three – the Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, and the Prix du Moulin – and finished second twice, in the Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. With a good barrier draw of 10, the main question will be how he handles a course tighter than he’s used to.
Roly Poly, from the Coolmore team, has been consistent in many of the top races for fillies and mares at a mile. After finishing second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes to stablemate Winter, she’s won three of her last four, all group one races: the Falmouth Stakes, Prix Rothschild, and Sun Chariot Stakes.
World Approval is a good representative for the home team, however. After finishing fifth in the 1 ¼-mile Manhattan Stakes (G1), trainer Mark Casse switched him to a mile, at which he impressively won the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) band the Woodbine Mile (G1).
The other leading American hope is Heart to Heart. He hasn’t been able to crack a grade one triumph despite several close calls, but he ran a great race to be just beaten in the Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland by English visitor Suedois, who also returns for the Breeders’ Cup.
Ballagh Rocks has been consistent all year and should not be left out of calculations here, while Midnight Storm does as he did last year – return from dirt racing to turf for the Mile. He finished third in that race last year, so he deserves serious consideration again. Lancaster Bomber, Blackjackcat, and Karar could also get some of the money.
In what looks like a good renewal, punters need to include Ribchester and World Approval in their multiples. Roly Poly is taking on the males for the first time but can’t be ignored, while Ballagh Rocks, Suedois, Heart to Heart, and Blackjackcat appeal as good investments for exotics.