The Breeders' Cup Turf deserves better than it is getting - it doesn't get enough respect. This is the second-richest race on the afternoon, and I would argue that it is the toughest to win. Yet it is not the second last race as it long was, and now it's race nine of 12. It's in the middle ground of the card, and it shouldn't be. This is a major, major race. It's a very long way to run, and these horses are hardened and experienced. The winner of the Turf is a true warrior. This year we have a three-headed battle atop this race that promises to be an epic one - as good as any on the weekend outside of the Classic and Distaff. Behind the top three there are a few intriguing contenders who could move in and make some noise as well. It's a good race
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Flintshire (5/2 morning line): This guy is a real world traveler - he's raced in Britain, France, Dubai and Hong Kong, and is now in the States for the third time. The first American visit was for the Turf in 2014 here at Santa Anita. He looked like he had the race won but fell just short in the end in a very tough stretch battle. He came back next in August of 2015 for the Sword Dancer and overcame a lousy start to win handily. This visit has been different because it's more permanent. At the start of this year he was transferred to New York grass legend Chad Brown. He has raced four times since the change, winning three and then finishing second last time out. That last race was on very soft turf, though, so it's hard to get too concerned about it. This is an elite horse with America's best turf trainer in charge. He's a deserving favorite.
Found (3/1): The defending champion is back here for more. It seemed like she was going to take a shot in the Classic, but that would have been her dirt debut, so her connections figured out in time that that was a bad idea. There is an annoying narrative here. Several times I have seen people express shock and concern that this is her third race since Oct. 2 - she won the Arc de Triomphe that day then was second in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on Oct. 15. People theorize that that is too much to ask for a horse - and it would be for many. We have a very good way of knowing she'll be fine, though - she did the exact same thing last year. Her and Flintshire are going to have one of the best duels of the whole weekend here.
Highland Reel (3/1): This is a stablemate of Found - both are trained by Aidan O'Brien - and last time out he finished second to the filly in the Arc. He had a big win of his own at Ascot in June as well. His lone appearance in North America was in the Secretariat last August and he truly dominated, so he should be fine with the travel. I don't think he's quite as good as his stablemate, but he's a factor here - one of a big three that should decide this race.
Ectot (8/1): Here's another Euro that has been transferred to a top American trainer - Todd Pletcher in this case. The change happened at the start of this year again, and he has had three starts since - two promising developmental races and then a big score in the Turf Classic at Belmont. That was on an off track, though, so I don't know how relevant he is. He's improving and could be a factor, but I just don't think he's good enough on this surface.
Ulysses (12/1): This three-year-old Euro has raced only six times, and his best results have not come in his best races. I don't really see why he is here, and I would dismiss him outright except for one thing - his connections are stellar, so if they think he's ready then there must be something to him. I don't like the price, though.
Ashleyluvssugar (15/1): This one is likely to get more attention than he should. He's locally-based and has won the two big local endurance turf preps - one at Del Mar and one at Santa Anita early in October. Those fields were not hugely impressive, though, and he didn't exactly dominate. He needs to be much better to win here, and I don't think he is capable. Gary Stevens rides, and it saddens me to pass on him at the Breeders' Cup, but I have no real choice.
Mondialiste (15/1): This is a mystery. He was second in the Mile last year, and his only decent race since then was a win in the Arlington Million at a mile and a quarter against a weak field. He has not run this far before and hasn't really shown us a lot of reason to believe that this makes a lot of sense. I loved him in the Mile last year. I don't like him here at all.
Da Big Hoss (20/1): He was in the Turf last year but only had an average day - he finished a non-threatening sixth. He has won his last four this year, though, including two at this mile and a half distance. The course was very soft last time, but he doesn't rely on that to win. I respect where this horse is at, believe he has moved forward from last year, and expect him to offer real value here - especially in the bottom part of some exotics.
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