ATN Horse Racing specialist, Matthew Pappis, takes an early look at some of the contenders for The Breeder’s Cup, taking place on the first weekend in November. It will be the first time ever that The Breeder’s Cup has been staged at storied Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Racetrack in gorgeous, Del Mar, California.

Juvenile Turf

  1. Nelson: Just missed in the Grade II Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes to Roaring Lion who would be the favorite if he did come. I like him because he tends to be forwardly placed which will serve him well over the Del Mar course. This is the best of the European invaders.
  2. James Garfeild: Coming off a narrow Victory in the Mill Reef Stakes and will get seasoned Breeders Cup Veteran Frankie Detori to ride.
  3. Sioux Nation: The next Aidan Obrein who is coming in of wins in two of his past three starts.
  4. Lansky: The biggest unknown of the Europeans never has ran a bad race but will have to step up here to beat the other European invaders. 

Other: US Navy Flag, Seabhac, Voting Control, Untamed Domain

Dirt Mile 

  1. Accelerate: He is 3 for 4 over the Del Mar Surface including a dominating effort over one of the likely favorites Classic Favorites, Arrogate. 
  2. Mor Spirit: He is 3 for 3 at the Distance and will be coming in fresh off a dominating effort in the Met Mile in June. 
  3. Sharp Azteca: Was able to show that he is able to get the two turns with the win at Monmouth this July and has the ability to put on freakish performances. 
  4.  Pratical Joke: Was flattered when Takafukl came back to win the Vosburgh but I think this is more of a one turn horse. 

Other: Cupid, Midnight Storm, Awesome Slew 

Juvenile Fillies Turf 

  1. Happily: Has won 4 of her last 5 starts since a poor effort in her debut race. She is very talented and the Americans better bring their running shoes to beat her. 
  2. Significant Form: A very talented runner for Chad Brown who is very tactical which will help over this speed favoring turf course.
  3. Rushing Fall: If this race was run anywhere else she would be the top pick her two career efforts would beat anyone in this group but Del Mar is not kind to deep closer. I am hoping Javier will have her more forward placed. 

Other: Clemmie, Orbulation


  1. Stellar Wind: This is her race to lose this year. She has the home field advantage being 3 for 3 over the track and does not have to see the likes of Beholder or Songbird. She will be facing mainly 3 year olds here and has the seasoning to win. 
  2. Elate: If a 3 year old is going to step up and win here it looks like she is the one to do it. She should have been put up when loosing to Abel Tasman in the Coaching Club Oaks and has since come back run to big efforts. She reminds me a lot of how Royal Delta was coming into the race for Mott. 
  3. Forever Unbridled: Was only beaten by about a length in this race last year and has but together two monster efforts this year. She is going to have a big shot here. 

Other: Abel Tasman, Paradise Woods, It Tiz Well 

Juvenile Fillies

  1. Heavenly Love: The way she won her prep at Keeneland was very impressive and they will have to beat her. 
  2. Seperationofpowers: Her first race was super impressive and she may have bounced in her second but she rebounded in a huge way to win the Frizette. She might be better going longer.
  3. Lady Ivanka: She won the Spinaway at Saratoga setting a dream trip behind the speed and could see something similar here. 
  4. Moonshine Memories: Yet to lose in three career stars with two of them coming at Del Mar but she came home very slow when winning the Chandelier Stakes. 

Other: Alluring Star, Princess Warrior, Piedi Bianchi, Maya Malibu

F&M Turf 

  1. Lady Eli: She has found her old form after a loss to Dickson last spring. She will try to go out on top. 
  2. Hydrangea:  This best of the Euros in my eyes just loosing to Rhododendron and should be better going shorter. 
  3. Rhododendron: The longer the better for her she is too classy to ignore but prefer her at a longer distance then 1 1/8.
  4. Queens Trust: The winner of this event last year and has not won since but she was coming into last year’s race in the same effort. 

Other: Grand Jute, Alice Springs, Danita 

Dirt Sprint 

  1. Drefong: Won this last year and his best effort makes him a very legitmate favorite. 
  2. Roy H: Bounced back to win his prep after bad luck at Del Mar this summer. 
  3. Takaful: The Vosburgh was a very good effort and he has proven he can run with the top in this division. 
  4. Imperial Hint: Has run numbers good enough to beat this group and comes in second off the layoff and comes in of 5 straight wins. 

Other: Mind Your Biscuits, Whitmore 

Turf Sprint 

  1. Marsha: She followed up her win over Lady Aurelia with a loss however this was over a soft turf course. She runs her better races on firm courses which she’ll get here.
  2. Disco Partner: The distance might be a little short but he should get a favorable set up and is in top form since entering the Clement Barn.
  3. Lady Aurelia: She can certainly win this race but she will be a very very short price and everything has to go right to win a 5f turf sprint.
  4. Red Falx: Will be the first time at the distance but likes to be around at the wire and has won just about half his carrer starts.

Others: Pure Sensation, Tribalist, Pay Any Price, Washington DC, Big Handsome


  1. Bolt d’ Oro: Arguably will be the shortest price and the most likely winner on the weekend. He has two wins at the track and has won going the distance, if he repeats his Front Runner effort someone will have to jump up to be close to him.
  2. Free Drop Billy: After his two tuff losses in Saratoga he rebounded with a win his first time going two turns and should be able to build off that.
  3. Firenze Fire: Rebounded with a win in the Champagne shouldn’t have an issue getting the two turns.
  4. Hollywood Star: The other Dale Romans runner who has proven to be talented but has not notched a win since his maiden score in June.

Others: Gimmeaminit, Solomini, Good Magic, The Tabulator


  1. Highland Reel: Drew off to win this event last year impressively and will come in fresh skipping the Arc due to soft turf.
  2. Ulysses: Has not had a poor start this year and she will come in off a good 3rd place effort in the Arc.
  3. Beach Patrol: Always has run the numbers to be right here with this group and finally put it together winning his past two starts.
  4. Fanciful Angel: Will make his 3rd start in the States and second under Chad Brown off a good effort in the Turf Classic at Belmont. He will have to be closer as this turf course does not favor deep closers.

Others: Saddlers Joy, Cloth of Star, Money Multiplier

Filly and Mare Sprint  

  1. Sky Diamonds: What a difference a year makes for this filly. Last year at the end of October, she was in the claiming ranks and now she’s a top contender in a BC division. She is 2 for 2 over the Del Mar course and will be coming into this fresh.
  2. Finley’sluckycharm: She is a win machine with wins in 4 of her last 5 starts and a narrow defeat to classy mare Paulassilverlining. Post is key for her, she can not get caught up in a speed duel.
  3. Unique Bella: Listen, she could be a freak and crush these but she will be a super short price and only coming in with one race since last May. She better be very special to win here.

Others: Paulassilverlining, By the Moon, Finest City, Highway Star

Turf Mile

  1. Ribchester: One of the top rated horses in the World. If he comes he is a legitimate favorite.
  2. Al Wukair: Has yet to see older horses but might be good enough. If Andre Fab shows up he means business.
  3. World Approval: Coming in off two straight victories vs good company but will have to be great to beat the Euro invaders.
  4. Decorated Knight: His best is good enough to run with this group.

Others: Heart to Heart, Blackjack Cat, Time Test


  1. Arrogate: I love how everyone is writing him off and saying he doesn’t like the track and isn’t the same as he was last year because this will only increase the price we get. How many horses run a 114 beyer speed figure in a loss and don’t like the track? He spotted Gun Runner 15 lengths in the Dubai World Cup last March and ran him down. Why will it be any different this time? Bob will have him ready to go out on top.
  2. Gun Runner: The distance will still be a question for many but he has proven he has as classy as any horse in training with three straight dominating efforts since coming back to the States.
  3. West Coast: Coming in off 5 straight wins and has put it all together with dominating efforts in the PA Derby and Travers.
  4. Keen Ice: He is always there to pick up a check but his running style has him against it to beat the top 3 here.

Others: Mubtaahij, Pavel, Collected

Please check back the week of the races as these are just highlighting the top contenders but are not necessarily my picks for the races.