Back from Paris, marinating in jetlag, and clearing a top drawer full of notes while waiting for the first complete sentence of this column.
Breeders’ Cup preps are not over. The win-and-you’re-in races are done, but don’t be surprised if some Breeders’ Cup turf horses come out of Saturday’s card at Woodbine near Toronto. “Woodbine purposefully changed their dates to enable that to happen,” said trainer Graham Motion, whose 6-year-old gelding Spring Quality (4-1) is second choice on the morning line for the $615,000 Grade 1 Canadian International. He would not rule out the possibility of using a victory this weekend as a springboard to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. “He’s going to have to show something exceptional to want to do that.”
Value north of the border. Thundering Blue (2-1) is a vulnerable favorite in the Canadian International. His most impressive race may have been when he finished third in the Juddmonte International seven weeks ago in England. But his last race was a win in an underwhelming Grade 3 in Sweden. Spring Quality’s victory in June in the Grade 1 Manhattan looked more impressive, but backers have to hope that his last-place finish two weeks ago in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic was all about the soft going. The 6-year-old gelding Desert Encounter (6-1) arrives from England with five group races to his name this year but no finish better than third. Local favorite Johnny Bear (8-1) won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer on this course last month and looks the better play. But when you can get two Chad Brown turf horses – United Nations winner Funtastic (8-1) and deep closer Focus Group (10-1) – at fat odds, why would any bettor look elsewhere? They will shorten from the morning line, but they look like the play. The Canadian International is due to start at 5:41 p.m. EDT Saturday.
Getting rich on the Everest. Defending winner Redzel (6-1) and the 4-year-old filly Shoals (6-1) are the early betting favorites for the world’s richest turf race – the $9.27 million Everest on Saturday at 1:15 a.m. EDT / Friday at 10:15 p.m. PDT at Royal Randwick in Sydney. With the purse made up mostly of big entry fees, the race is patterned after our Pegasus World Cup. The threat of rain has had handicappers scrambling to gauge wet-track form. The course is expected to be rated “heavy 9” – soft in American parlance – thanks to weekend rain. But new forecasts suggest that showers will hold off until after the race. So how soft will the turf really be for the six-furlong race? If it is really that sodden, why not swing for the fences by taking a shot on Le Romain (18-1), a gelding that has two wins and three seconds in six starts on heavy tracks? He was last seen finishing second to Winx last month in the George Main Stakes, and there is no shame in that.
How silly is Sydney? To try and stir up some attention for the Everest, organizers showcased the draw this week by lighting up the roof of the Sydney Opera House with images of the racing silks. But who knew that this would be seen as an unforgivable act of desecration upon a national landmark? Protesters even surrounded the building and shined flashlights skyward to try and disrupt the projection show. It didn’t work. History, while going all LMFAO, will treat this melodrama unkindly.
What did we learn in France? Some recent patterns held up when Enable won last Sunday’s running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. A filly won again. A horse that had won its last prep finished first again. But most important, bettors would be wise to remember the importance of the inside draw. Breaking from the 6 hole, Enable became the 18th winner in the last 23 runnings of the Arc at Longchamp to start between posts 1 and 7. The fact that she won by just a short neck underscored the importance of the draw, since runner-up Sea Of Class started from gate 19.
Enable will be able to run when? If the 10-day clock that trainer John Gosden and owners’ rep Sir Teddy Grimthorpe holds true, expect to read by this time next week whether Enable races again this year or at all. Not a strong hunch here, but considering how much huffing and puffing she needed to win the Arc after only one other race this year, the bet here is that she is done in 2018 but that she will try for an unprecedented Arc three-peat in 2019. I am sure someone will remind me how wrong I was if Juddmonte decides to send Enable to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. She did close as the 3-1 favorite in the parimutuel future wager last weekend, the same one that made Accelerate the 2-1 favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Eager for more Breeders’ Cup odds? They are already betting in Europe on all the Breeders’ Cup races. According to Oddschecker.com, bookmakers over there have established these prices for the favorites:
* Juvenile – Game Winner (7-4)
* Juvenile Fillies – Bellafina (3-1)
* Juvenile Fillies Turf – Newspaperofrecord (3-1)
* Juvenile Turf – Anthony Van Dyck (7-2)
* Juvenile Turf Sprint – Shang Shang Shang (4-1), Soldiers Call (4-1)
* Distaff – Monomoy Girl (2-1)
* Filly & Mare Turf – Wild Illusion (7-2)
* Dirt Mile – Catalina Cruiser (2-1)
* Filly & Mare Sprint – Marleys Freedom (9-4)
* Sprint – Imperial Hint (5-2)
* Turf Sprint – Battaash (5-1), Disco Partner (5-1)
* Turf – Enable (4-5)
* Mile – Polydream (5-1)
* Classic – Accelerate (7-2)
When will we see Derby futures? Now working for the DraftKings Sportsbook, oddsmaker Johnny Avello said that he now plans to have his Kentucky Derby futures posted in about a month. He is hoping by then that DraftKings will be licensed to operate here in Nevada. But he said if that does not happen, he may post them sooner so they can get action in New Jersey, where DraftKings is already allowed to take sports bets. After 13 years at the Wynn Las Vegas, Avello had a going-away party this week at El Segundo Soul on The Strip, even though he is staying put in Las Vegas to do his work for DraftKings.
Ron Flatter’s weekly racing column is posted every Friday morning at VSiN.com and after big races such as here. You may also hear the Ron Flatter Racing Pod, also posted Friday mornings at VSiN.com/podcasts. This week’s edition features Spring Quality’s trainer Graham Motion and Woodbine track announcer Robert Geller previewing Saturday’s Canadian International Stakes in addition to a discussion of The Everest at Sydney, listener feedback, a flashback to the first woman to be hired as a track announcer in North America and a tribute to the late southern California handicapper Jack Karlik. The RFRP is also available at leading providers such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play Podcasts and Stitcher.