The Breeders’ Cup Mile was a centerpiece race last year when the incredible Goldikova fell just short of winning for the fourth straight time. The mare isn’t back again, but the Mile still is the race to watch.
Occupying the spot right before the Classic, the Mile is the best race of the entire Breeders’ Cup weekend. There are just nine horses entered, but this is an incredibly-deep and wildly-competitive race — even the longshots are strong. Court Vision won last year to end the three-year reign of the Europeans in this race, and this year promises to be a real war to establish which continent will reign:
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1. Mr. Commons (12/1) - He’s the son of 2005 Mile winner Artie Schiller, so success in this race is in his blood. He’s also back for a second try — he was fifth last year. He hasn’t been able to run down Obviously in his last two outings, but the pace scenario should suit this horse better here. I don’t really think he can win without a lot of help, but he could get a piece.
2. Wise Dan (9/5) - The favorite is the best turf miler in North America right now, and it’s not even close. The challenge is, though, that he has yet to travel west to meet the best out of California, and he has yet to face the top Europeans. While he has done absolutely everything right so far, then, it requires a bit of a leap of faith to back him here. Beyond that my biggest concern is that he hasn’t been challenged on the lead on the turf once he has gone to the front, and he certainly will be here thanks to the hard-charging Euros. It’ll be tough, but he’s still a strong favorite.
3. Obviously (6/1) - After running in Ireland as a three year old the horse was moved to California this year. After trying out life as a sprinter he has stretched out to a mile in his last three and has yet to lose — including twice in graded stakes. He’s the sped in this race, and he shouldn’t be pressed up front early on. The problem is, though, that only one horse has ever wired this race, and it could be very tough to do so against a field this tough.
4. Jeranimo (15/1) - If you could bet on which horse is likely to be at the back of the field early on this would be a good bet. He’ll look to make a late move to get up to the lead. The problem is, though, that his best speed figure is more than a year removed, and I’m just not convinced he’s fast enough.
5. Animal Kingdom (8/1) - Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner will get more attention than he would otherwise, so value could be tough to find. He has run only once since the 2011 Belmont Stakes — an allowance race on turf in February. He won, but he didn’t beat anyone of note. He’s good enough to win here obviously, but the inexperience, injury woes and deep rust are all big concerns. I’ll probably have him in my exotics, but that will be more because of my heart than my head.
6. Excelebration (2/1) - There are always strong Europeans in this race, and this year is no exception. This horse has won three times in five tries this year, and the only two losses have been second-place finishes to Frankel — the best horse on the planet until he retired earlier in October. He would be an automatic pick if it weren’t for one big concern — he last ran on Oct. 20. He’s coming back on two week’s rest, and he flew halfway around the world in the meantime. That’s a big challenge to overcome. He’s likely to be running on Lasix for the first time, though, so that could give him a boost. This will be a war.
7. Wilcox Inn (30/1) - He’s the longest shot on the board, and for good reason. He has run only three times this year, and the two showings in stakes action weren’t impressive. I just don’t think he’s good enough.
8. Suggestive Boy (15/1) - I hate to see connections that can’t decide what to do with a horse — especially when that horse is obviously talented. They bought this horse and brought him to California after a strong year in Argentina last year. They first tried him on the turf at a mile. He was second in the grade one Shoemaker Mile, and then won a smaller stakes. Then they stretched him out to a mile and a quarter and tried him on the synthetic in the Pacific Classic. It didn’t go well. Next, they shortened him to a mile and an eighth and tried the dirt. Again, he was no factor. Now they are backtracking and trying the turf mile again. If his connections have no faith in him it’s hard for me to.
9. Moonlight Cloud (6/1) - Here’s a filly coming over from Europe after a strong season, and I can’t look away. There’s one big reason — Freddy Head. As a jockey he won this race twice on the brilliant filly Miesque in 1987 and 1988. As a trainer he won three times with the incredible filly Goldikova. He has the magic touch with female horses. She has only run the mile her last two — she was sprinting before that — and she was beaten soundly by Excelebration two back, so there are some concerns. Euro fillies are tough to beat in this race, though, so the price could be right.
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