We only really, truly care about one-mile races on the Turf one day each year in North America. It's a shame, too, because this is regularly one of the most exciting and challenging races on the Breeders' Cup card. It's also a race that creates dynasties - Miesque and Lure each won it twice in a row, Da Hoss took two in three years, the great Goldikova won three straight, then two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan won two in a row in 2012 and 2013. We have a shot at another dynasty this year, albeit an unlikely one - Karakontie is back for more after shocking the world at 30/1 last year. Will he get another win? Or will the deep-and-talented field be too much for him?:
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Esoterique (7/2): In some races being female and racing against the boys is a knock against a horse. That isn't the case here - several great winners of this race, including Goldikova, were mares. This five-year-old mare is in the best form of her life. After consistently solid showings, she has won two Grade 1 stakes in a row - one in France and one in Britain - and appears to be in form for another big showing here. That win in France was in the Prix Jacques Le Marois, a race against boys that has produced seven Mile winners. She raced at the start of October, so she isn't as fresh as a lot of Euros are heading into this race. She's not likely to be too tired to run, though. She's a certain factor.
Make Believe (4/1): Like Esoterique, this horse is trained by Andre Fabre, the French trainer who has four Breeders' Cup wins, including the Classic in 1993 with 133/1 mega long shot Arcangues, but has not yet won this race. Make Believe is a three year old who has only made six career starts. He has looked impressive lately, though, with two big Grade 1 wins in his last three. His last race was his best, so there is a chance for a letdown here. That race was against older horses, though, and came off an 80-day layoff, so it's quite possibly that he still has a lot left to give. This won't be the more popular Fabre horse by any means, but there is a chance that it is the better one.
Grand Arch (12/1): Last year this was an intriguing horse in the Mile field, but his race was a disaster. He didn't get a good start and never fired, finishing a dull 11th. He has three wins and nearly a million dollars won at Keeneland, so we know he likes the track. One of those wins was last time out. The big risk here is early speed. He really doesn't have any and seems to perform his best when the first half mile of a race is pedestrian. There is a decent chance that things will be fast early on thanks to Obviously in this race, and that could be a problem. He's still the best of the domestic runners, though.
Karakontie (6/1): He won last year, so we know he is capable. We also know that a previous win is a big factor in handicapping this race. He's a deep closer who benefitted from a crazy early pace in the race last year. Obviously set that pace and could do so again here. It's concerning that he only has run twice this year and that the best showing was a third last time out. In the first race he was irrelevant, miles behind Esoterique. His form was even worse before the race last year, though. A win shouldn't happen, but then it really shouldn't have last year, either. I hate this price.
Tepin (15/1): We know lots of fillies and mares have won this race, but this one still has a chance to make history - none has won the race in her first try facing boys. She has four wins and two seconds this year and won by more than seven lengths on this same Keeneland track last time out. Trainer Mark Casse is red hot, too, having tied for the top of the heap in wins at the recently-finished Keeneland meet. Obviously could be her undoing , too, though - she likes to be in touch with the leaders early but has always run much slower fractions in her wins than she could see here. Tough spot for this filly this year - though perhaps it sets the table for a big race next year.
Obviously (15/1): You have to admire his persistence - this is his fourth try at the Breeders' Cup Mile. He has a third and two fifths to show for it so far. It's not hard to figure out his tactics - this horse flies out of the gate, runs as fast as he can, and hopes he is still in front at the wire. It's about as subtle as a sledgehammer. He hasn't won since June of 2014 and has only run once since last year's Mile - a third-place finish in the Woodbine Mile in September where he ran true to form and didn't have enough in the end. It's hard to imagine him winning here, but he'll make things interesting, and he all but guarantees that the first half mile will be run in less than 46 seconds.
Mondialiste (12/1): This horse makes it tough to get too excited about the North American horses this year. In Europe he did not look great. He won two underwhelming races after really struggling to find his form for the first four starts of the year. Hardly eye-opening. But then he came over here for the Woodbine Mile last month, faced a decent field, and rallied from far back for a win. It wasn't enough for me to pick him, but it makes others look bad, too.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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