Del Mar is set to host the 2017 Breeders’ Cup in November, in what will be the 34th edition of the meeting. The thoroughbred horse race event, also known as the world championship of the sport, attracts the best horses from around the world for dirt and turf races over the two days. The feature contest is the Breeders’ Cup Classic, won in 2016 by Arrogate. Here is what we have to look forward to this year.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
Gun Runner became the new favourite with the bookmakers to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic following his successful outing in the Grade One Woodward Stakes at Saratoga earlier this month. The four-year-old has now won four races in 2017, including three at the highest level.
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Steven Asmussen’s runner was second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at the meeting in 2016, where he came home just over three lengths behind Tamarkus. Since stepping up in trip, he has found a new gear as his rivals have been unable to get anywhere near him in his last three outings.
If Gunner Runner is to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic he will have to beat last year’s champion Arrogate, who became the highest rated racehorse in the world following his victory in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
Arrogate added the Dubai World Cup to his collection back in March at Meydan in Dubai where he finished over two lengths of Gun Runner. Since then, though, he has suffered two defeats. He was a long way behind the winner at Del Mar in the San Diego Handicap, while more recently he had to settle for second place in the Grade One Pacific Classic Stakes.
Breeders’ Cup Turf
The turf races at the Breeders’ Cup meeting see the best American horses take on the finest in Europe. The latter have dominated the Breeders’ Cup Turf over the last decade and they will fancy their chance of more success this year as the top four in the early betting for the race will be making the trip across the Atlantic.
Ulysses leads the pack from Europe as he has had an excellent summer in the UK with victories coming in the Group One Eclipse Stakes and the Juddmonte International at the Ebor Meeting at York. British trainer Sir Michael Stoute enjoys taking his horses across to the Breeders’ Cup and he will be hoping his four-year-old can provide him with a winner in the biggest turf race of the meeting.
Highland Reel is expected to return to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in the race he won in 2016. Irish Champion Trainer Aidan O’Brien tends to take a big team across to the United States from his Ballydoyle yard and his star middle-distance runner will be bidding for more glory in what has been a big 12 months for the globetrotter. Given his international success over the last 12 months, Highland Reel could be a nap selection with The Winners Enclosure for the meeting this year. He is likely to be ridden prominently from the front again so he could steal a march on his rivals.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
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Bolt D’Oro has done enough on his two racecourse starts so far to become the favourite for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar. Mick Rulis’ two-year-old has a big reputation and he has done nothing so far to suggest he isn’t an exciting horse for the future. On his last outing at the San Diego course, he prevailed in the Grade One Del Mar Futurity. He stayed on strongly in that 1400m contest after a slow start to the race.
Zatter finished second behind Bolt D’Oro at Del Mar and will get the opportunity to reverse the form in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. That loss in the Grade One race was the first defeat of his career. Bob Baffert’s colt ran well in the two-year-old race but just couldn’t match the winner’s speed inside in the final 200m.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup meeting begins on November 7 and every race across the two days will be live on NBC if you are not lucky enough to have a ticket for the event in San Diego.