TEENAGE tiger Joseph O’Brien last year mauled his rivals aboard St Nicholas Abbey in the £2m Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs and the deadly combination can bare their claws again on Saturday evening at Santa Anita.
ST NICHOLAS ABBEY (10.18) picked up smartly when 18-year-old Joseph, the youngest jockey to win at the meeting, eased his mount out for a surging run and similar hold-up tactics will be employed from a nice draw in stall three. St Nicholas Abbey won the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June but then ran into Frankel when handed some onerous midsummer tasks, before finishing down the field in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp earlier this month. The Irish ace is fancied to bounce back.
Stablemate EXCELEBRATION (11.40), placed five times behind Frankel, can scoop the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He produced the ‘wow’ factor at Ascot last time, quickening through a gap and strolling home under a confident Joseph. As long as the race hasn’t left its mark, Excelebration is fancied to conquer home hero Wise Dan, who has been mopping up in great style. Whether the American ace has beaten anything of particular note is open to debate and the each-way alternative has to be French star Moonlight Cloud. She should fly round the tight Santa Anita bends, although her wide berth in stall nine is a disadvantage as the first bend looms quickly.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is run over an extended six furlongs on Santa Anita Park’s unique downhill course and BRIDGETOWN (8.57) has speed to burn. Winner of the $150,000 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland for sprint king Todd Pletcher, Bridgetown will bounce off the fast ground. Significantly, he finished second in the Juvenile Turf when it was run at Santa Anita, so has experienced the unique gradients.
Back on home soil at Newmarket, Cambridgeshire runner-up MULL OF KILLOUGH (3.05) can further underline his liking for HQ, having subsequently landed the Group 3 Darley Stakes on a return visit to the track. The six-year-old steps up a further furlong in this Listed event but has been seeing out his races really strongly.
The Betfred-sponsored Listed race over a mile will stretch the stamina of RED JAZZ (3.40) but Charles Hills has had string in terrific form in the latter weeks of the turf season. Red Jazz went under by a neck to Fulbright over seven furlongs here last time and is rated to go very close.
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