The sketches are meant to separate contenders closely matched in ability and odds. The Cup races are, on balance, the most competitive staged all year. To that end, with input from HRI researcher Brad Morgan, we’ve chosen eight common variables for the purpose of noting the differences in results as determined by surface, age, sex, preparation, etc.
Obviously, there is no data on the three new Breeders’ Cup events to be run Friday, October 26. There figures to be, however, great similarity in respective categories, vis a vis surface, age, sex and prepatory considerations, between the old and new events. Are there commonalities? You decide.
Current Form: Find the “now” filly, one peaking right on top of the race. Demand an in-the-money (ITM) finish in the final prep race. A winner coming off a career top performance figure is acceptable in this event.
Dosage: Stamina is an important variable. Prefer fillies with a dosage index of 2.80 or less.
Key Preps: The Frizette, Oak Leaf and Alcibiades. While a win in any of these races is highly desirable, any previous stakes victory is mandatory.
Style: Off-the-pace is the dominant winning style. Race shape favors fillies with kick racing within five lengths of the leader. Remember, of course, that Monmouth Park is generally speed favoring. How that surface plays in the fall at this summertime venue could be another matter. With three days of racing prior to the big dance, there is amply opportunity to go to school on prior results.
Spacing: An overwhelming majority of winners came off layups from 21 to 28 days. On balance, 2-year-olds of either sex thrive and often improve when racing back on relatively short rest.
Racing Schedule: While juvenile fillies develop more quickly than colts, experience is invaluable. But try to avoid over-raced fillies to win if having six or more starts.
Post Position: Regardless of surface and/or distance, middle posts 4-to-9 have fared best.
Beyer Scale: 95 or higher. Equiform Scale: 75
Current Form: A win or second in final prep is key.
Dosage: Relatively insignificant. Winners generally not as stamina oriented as Juvenile Filly winner.
Key Preps: Lanes End Futurity, Champagne horses have edge, but any Grade 1 or Group 2 win is highly desirable.
Style: Mid-pack runners with kick have enjoyed a tactical advantage.
Spacing: While 21-to-28 day layups are prominent among winners, the recent trend has swelled to 39 days, reflecting popular modern training techniques.
Racing Schedule: Both lightly raced and relatively heavily raced individuals have fared well. Four previous starts seems ideal.
Post Position: Historically, positions from outside post 8 are at a tactical disadvantage in two turn races.
Beyer Scale: 95 or higher. Look for improving trends, a new top or paired tops are desirable. Demand a jump as horses stretch out from a sprint to a route. Equiform Scale: 77
FILLY & MARE TURF:
Current Form: The newest Breeders’ Cup race on main event day has been dominated by horses racing in career form. Repeaters have fared very well. Demand a sharp in-the-money finish in the final prep.
Dosage: Prefer stamina oriented pedigrees, an index of 2.80 or lower.
Key Preps: Flower Bowl, Yellow Ribbon.
Style: Extremely difficult to wire the field in three-turn events. High turn of foot runners desirable over grinder types.
Spacing: Optimum layoff for American runners has been 35 days. Europeans, because they race less frequently but trained harder, have responded better with 45 days between starts.
Racing Schedule: Prefer successful shippers over one-circuit/surface performers. Turf success is always predicated on the ability to handle the ground. Course condition is key, more important than proven form at the distance or farther.
Post Position: Routinely meaningless in three-turn events.
Beyer Scale: Insignificant sample size. Equiform Scale: 77.5
Current Form: Victory in a graded stakes is a must, as is a win at six furlongs. The relatively tight turns at Monmouth Park hinder horses breaking from extreme outside positions.
Dosage: Proven ability trumps pedigree.
Key Preps: Ancient Title, Kentucky Cup Sprint, Bay Meadows Sprint Handicap, Summit of Speed Sprint. [Vosburgh winners have been a historical negative but that is changing since the race was shortened to 6 furlongs].
Style: Wire and stalker types have been the most successful. Deep closers generally have been a historical negative at 6 furlongs, true almost everywhere. Saving ground at some point is key.
Spacing: Recent sharp performers and classy returnees both have enjoyed a high degree of success. Demand one bullet work pre-race and a stamina workout of 6 furlongs or more for horses returning from lengthy layups. As a general rule, the fresher, the better.
Racing Schedule: The ideal campaign has been from 4 to 8 starts during the year. More starts are OK but these heavily raced types have been more effective in exotic positions.
Post Position: As in all sprints at 6 furlongs, the rail and extreme outside is least desirable. European sprinters generally have done their best racing from outside positions.
Beyer Scale: Demand 109 or higher. Equiform Scale: 80
Current Form: A horse’s record at the distance is key. Demand multiple wins at one mile on grass during the course of a season. Also demand an ITM finish or better in a horse’s final prep, at minimum a finish within 4 lengths of the winner.
Dosage: Ideally, look for an index below 2.85.
Key Preps: Queen Elizabeth II, Prix du Moulin, Oak Tree Mile. While New York’s Kelso Mile produced three Mile winner early on, it has not been a reliable predictor in recent renewals. U.S. runners must come in with a stakes win, preferably graded. Successful Euros must own a Group 1 win, preferably at one mile.
Style: Stalkers and mid-pack closers dominate all money results. Historically, front-runners going a mile in top company are up against it; best to avoid in win position. Americans have filled many more exotic positions than have the Euros. The most talented miler in either side of the Atlantic usually wins this. The newly installed turf course at Monmouth never has been used in the fall. It figures to be less than firm by U.S. standards but yielding ground here would be considered almost firm by most European standards.
Spacing: Americans have done best with 21-to-28 days between starts. Europeans, again because of stouter training regimens and facing routinely superior competition, thrive best with layups of 40-to-65 days.
Racing Schedule: Ideally, milers should compete in 4 to 7 races prior to this event. Historically, successful 3-year-olds have had experience vs. older horses.
Post Position: If the speedy Lure could win from post 14 at tight-turned Hollywood Park and Royal Academy can come from last of 13 at Belmont Park, anything goes. Ability, race shape and running style trump position.
Beyer Scale: Demand 109 or higher for older; 105 or more for 3-year-olds. However, it has been best to avoid new career tops. Equiform Scale: 80
Current Form: Most Distaff winners have raced within 28 days of this event and proven class is a key. To that end, look for multiple Grade 1 or Group 1 winners. A win at 9 furlongs is key.
Dosage: Look for a stamina oriented pedigree, an index of 4.0 or lower. Two keys to note: the more stamina in the pedigree, the better. Ideally, seek fillies with more points in the Classic Wing than the sum of the Speed, Intermediate, Solid and Professional wings combined.
Key Preps: The Spinster (dominant history), Lady’s Secret. Note that the Beldame has been a historical negative. Due to the installation of Polytrack at Keeneland last fall, its effect on the Distaff is not yet knowable. Empirical evidence has been confusing. While it suggests that it may be best to forgive uncharacteristically poor performances, there is also evidence to indicate that it’s a great surface over which to prep for an upcoming dirt event. This year’s Kentucky Derby exacta of Street Sense and Hard Spun each prepped on different Polytrack surfaces; Keeneland and Turf Park, respectively.
Style: Both speed types and closers with tactical speed have dominated the results.
Spacing: As stated previously, the majority of winners raced within four weeks.
Racing Schedule: Most winners raced between 6 to 8 times during the year. Layup runners should come equipped with at least one bullet move and a workout at 6 furlongs or farther.
Post Position: Since most of the races have come around two turns, positions 9 and wider have been decidedly disadvantaged.
Beyer Scale: Demand 107 and higher for older; 103 or more for 3-year-olds. However, avoid a new career top in final prep. Equiform Scale: 78.5
Current Form: While current condition is paramount, it need not be winning form: Horses repeating a prior victory on Turf day are in the minority, although not be much. Never has the Turf been won by a horse older than 5.
Dosage: The ideal is an index less than 3.0, with at least 2 points in the stamina wings (either solid or professional points).
Key Preps: Turf Classic (best BC results at Belmont Park), Clement Hirsch (none in last 8 years), Arc de Triomphe. In the past, also-rans were preferable because the Arc never is easily won and is contested later in the season. The immensely talented Dylan Thomas won this year’s renewal on Oct. 7 and makes his final career start in the Turf. Vexing proposition, that.
Style: As a matter of rote, three-turn routes are rarely won in wire fashion. But uncontested speed at this level is especially dangerous. Stalkers are a worthy 14-for-23 in this event. Per usual, race shape and trips will prove the keys.
Spacing: Ideally, the final prep should come 35 days before the event and accompanied by a win or place finish.
Racing Schedule: Although recent winners have been more lightly raced, a 5 or 6-race campaign has been ideal. Demand a win at 12 furlongs and that the final prep be a quality event at 10 furlongs or farther. The Turf winner must have winning experience at the Grade 1 or Group 1 level.
Post Position: Because of the distance, there is no discernable position bias. As the Europeans will tell you, the key to victory for any turf horse is the condition of the ground. That variable cannot be overstated.
Beyer Scale: Demand 110 or higher, and prefer horses with multiple Beyers of 105 or better. Equiform Scale: 80
Current Form: Unlike the Turf, a win at the classic distance is not mandatory but, as the name suggests, class is. Over 80 percent of Classic winners won one or more Grade 1 events during the season. Late development is key, whether it be older blue-collar types or 3-year-olds, especially those with Triple Crown experience. No horse 6-years-old and up has ever won the Classic.
Dosage: While the ability to get 10 furlongs successfully is needed on race day, many winners have had speed-oriented pedigrees. Any index below 3.8 is acceptable.
Key Preps: One would infer that traditional Eastern fixtures like the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup would dominate, but that’s not necessarily the case. A good horse can come from anywhere, making Santa Anita’s Goodwood and Churchill’s Stephen Foster just as significant.
Style: I’m sure they have, but I’ve never seen a mile and a quarter race at Monmouth Park. It may be advisable, per usual, to look askance at deep closers. Generally, stalkers from close range have not fared well in this race. But this is, after all, Monmouth Park. Further, the extremely deep and talented field of 2007 is replete with speedy stalkers and deep closers. Something’s got to give here.
Spacing: There has been a more favorable relationship between the preps of late August and early September than those of late September and early October. Six weeks has been ideal.
Racing Schedule: No one prep race has dominated the Classic results. But note that the campaign of the average Classic winner has been anywhere from 4-to-8 starts.
Post Position: At 10 furlongs, ability, style and race shape trump position. (Still don’t know how Unbridled could win at Belmont Park from a position closer to the parking lot than the inside fence)!
Beyer Scale: Demand 110 for older horses, 107 for 3-year-olds. However, avoid a new career top in final prep. A forward-looking performance figure pattern is most desirable. Many horses earn career tops on Breeders’ Cup day regardless of age, sex or surface. Equiform Scale: 80