The Breeders’ Cup bills itself as the World Championships of horse racing. While this claim is hyperbole, the Breeders’ Cup races that come closest to being world championships are held on grass. Unlike the dirt races, turf fields normally include a significant number of top-flight European runners.
My personal favorite race on the Breeders’ Cup two-day cards is the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The 1 ½ mile challenge is a classic distance and the horses run over a grass surface that is in keeping with the traditions and origins of horse racing in the 18th century. Turf racing, in my view, has an unrivaled elegance about it and the 12-furlong distance requires the utmost in tactical riding.
This year’s field will once again include formidable entries from Ireland’s Tipperary County-based Coolmore Stud and its partners. In the recent 1 ½ mile Qatar Prix De L’Arc Triomphe at Chantilly in France, Coolmore accomplished an amazing feat. Its runners, all trained by Aidan P. O’Brien, finished one-two-three: Found, a 4-year-old filly, won, followed by the 4-year-old colts Highland Reel and Order of St. George. All three were sired by Coolmore’s Galileo, who finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt in 2001. Found won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf and has career earnings of over $6.9 million. Coolmore connections and Aidan O’Brien have dominated the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the 21st century with five wins.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf will draw a strong field of European and American runners to take on whatever horses Coolmore decides to send to Santa Anita. Though turf races are the European’s forte, North American horses have been competitive. Results are closely divided with European-based runners having a slight advantage of 17 wins in the previous 32 Breeders’ Cup Turf races. However, European horses must overcome the side effects of long-distance travel and time-zone differences.
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