Word came down last night after the conclusion of Del Mar’s Friday card that Breeders Cup Turf morning line favorite Ulysses has been scratched because of a soundness issue. That should make Highland Reel the favorite in here.
Audio – We previewed the Saturday races with Steve Falk.
Breeders Cup Turf
(We adjusted some of this preview to account for the scratch of Ulysses.)
While Ulysses was obviously very talented, we would have made Highland Reel the one to beat even with Ulysses in the field. With that one scratched, Highland Reel, the defending champion, becomes a likely strong favorite. He beat both Ulyssses and Decorated Knight in the Prince of Wales’s in June, and while he didn’t fire in his last two, they were on a bit softer going than he prefers.
Of the other Euros, Seventh Heaven is very interesting. She got soft and yielding turf in her last two races and trounced a weak field in May, her three-back start. As a four year old with 13 starts including just four this year, she’s obviously had some issues. But while she’s had issues, she also has ability. Remember, she was 7/2 in the F&M Turf last year and had an absolutely awful trip. She also beat Found, the 2015 BC Turf and 2016 Arc winner, at 12 furlongs on firm turf at York last August. She does have winning a race of this caliber in her, and she is going to be a huge price.
Beach Patrol won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont by five emphatic lengths last time in his first try going 12 furlongs. The distance was a legitimate question for him going into the race, and he answered. He always fires, and he’s got a big shot, but he’s going to have to run back to that performance, and maybe even exceed it. That feels like a lot to ask at a short price. Oscar Performance couldn’t set that pace because of a rabbit, but figures to set this one. He actually didn’t run that poorly in the Turf Classic considering he was hemmed in and wants to be more free-running. He’ll try to take them all the way from post 14, but with Highland Reel right on his heels, that seems unlikely.
Bullards Alley came out of nowhere to win the Canadian International by 10 lengths and earned a 114 Beyer in the process, but that race was run in a swamp and most of the field didn’t handle the going. None of his other races are nearly good enough. Decorated Knight is talented but the distance seems a big question. He would fit right in a 10 furlong turf race, but there isn’t one here.
Talismanic, for the legendary Andre Fabre, seems a bit outclassed here, but maybe is one to throw in underneath now that Ulysses is out. He was third in a main Arc prep last time, but his Hall of Fame trainer skipped the Arc to point to this race, which should be fairly telling.
We’ve always been fans of Sadler’s Joy, and yes, he did have to go very wide at Belmont last time and caught a last quarter mile run in 22.75 seconds, but he is going to be so far back and have to outkick such talented foes in here. We’ll definitely use underneath in trifectas, but not sure if he can win.
We originally took Highland Reel over Seventh Heaven, but with Ulysses out, Highland Reel looks like a very short-priced favorite, and maybe too short. We’ll use them both of course, but make Seventh Heaven our top selection.
Top Picks (note – these are morning line odds and all horses will drop in price with the scratch of Ulysses)
#9 Seventh Heaven (20/1)
#3 Highland Reel (5/1)
#12 Beach Patrol (4/1)
#1 Talismanic (15/1)