Which 3-year-olds might be worth a bet?
When it comes to three-year-olds facing elder counterparts in the Breeders’ Cup, the results have been mostly consistent in recent years. A total of 11 sophomores have come out on top since 2015, with three crossing the wire first in 2018 — Shamrock Rose (Filly and Mare Sprint); Monomoy Girl (Distaff); and Expert Eye (Mile).
The three-year-olds boast a strong contingent in 2019, and I think they have a chance to exceed last year’s total. Here is a race-by-race look at the sophomore contenders from the pre-entries list released on Wednesday.
Filly and Mare Sprint
Covfefe has been brilliant on numerous occasions for trainer Brad Cox. The Grade 1-winning Into Mischief filly earned a robust 108 BRIS Speed number in her Dogwood S. romp most recently and she will be tough with a repeat performance at Santa Anita.
Two-time Grade 1 vixen Bellafina has not been up to the task in her last three assignments outside of California, but she is eligible to relish her return to the Golden State for Simon Callaghan. Daughter of Quality Road is a sterling four-for-four at Santa Anita and her odds could be appealing.
Kentucky Oaks (G1) star Serengeti Empress was a close second to Covfefe in the Test S. (G1) two prior and could be intriguing on the cut back to six furlongs. (cross-entered in the Distaff, as well).
In a race that appears to be wide-open, Legends of War, who was originally based in Europe, and recent Woodford S. (G2) hero Stubbins gives trainer Doug O’Neill a pair of contenders for this grassy dash.
European imports Fairyland and So Perfect will aim to give the invaders their first ever win in this event.
I expect the sophomores to have a huge say in the outcome of the Dirt Mile. Multiple Grade-1 standout Omaha Beach leads a strong group of three-year-olds . The likely favorite was a game winner in his comeback in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) on the course.
Bob Baffert’s Improbable, fourth as the Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite in May, rates a big chance on the cut back to one-mile in my opinion.
Bret Calhoun’s Mr. Money had an impressive four-race win streak snapped at Parx most recently when finishing a neck second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). The colt will try to follow in the footsteps of his sire Goldencents, who won back-to-back editions of the race.
Woody Stephens S. (G1) winner Hog Creek Hustle can’t be overlooked following three excellent performances in succession. (cross-entered in the Sprint).
Filly and Mare Turf
This affair is being billed as a two-horse race between defending champ Sistercharlie, and the sensational Magical, who was second in the Turf in 2018. And it may just come down to that pair.
But a slew of three-year-old invaders from across the pond will take their chances . Castle Lady was a closing second in her U.S. debut at Keeneland in the Queen Elizabeth II S. (G1) for Godolphin. The Group-1 winning Shamardal filly could move forward and be a factor at Santa Anita.
Villa Marina was a Group-1 heroine on the Prix de l’arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) undercard and would have a big say with improvement in her U. S. bow.
John Gosden’s surging Fanny Logan, Beverly D. S. (G1) fourth Fleeting, and Sun Chariot S. (Eng-G1) third Iridessa (cross-entered in the Mile) are also in with a chance.
Shancelot is the top three-year-old of the trio pre-entered for the dash. The Shanghai Bobby colt had a superb prep for the Sprint when second to Omaha Beach for conditioner Jorge Navarro. He would not be a surprise.
Fellow sophomore Hog Creek Hustle rides in with a trio of fine performances in a row, led by his tally in the Wood Stephens S. (G1). The likely longshot rates as a dangerous off-the-pace contender at a big number.
Landeskog finished second-best Gallant Bob S. (G2), but will likely need a move forward to challenge for the tally in the deep Sprint.
The hopes of a sophomore taking down the mile will come down to the Europeans, as no U. S. based three-year-old will go to post in the race.
The classy Circus Maximus, 2018 Juvenile Turf (G1) star Line of Duty, and Group 2 victor Space Traveller lead the brigade.
Superstar Midnight Bisou will be a short-priced choice in the Distaff. She will have to bring her best to topple a strong field, however, including a pair of sophomores.
Dunbar Road is immensely talented and the possible second choice for trainer Chad Brown. The Alabama (G1) queen was no slouch when a close third in the Spinster S. (G1) against her elders most recently. She is among the horses I am most interested in watching over the weekend.
Street Band has been a different animal following an unplaced effort in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Larry Jones pupil was impressive in taking down a strong field in the recent Cotillion S. (G1), and she could rise up to be a late factor in the Distaff.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien will saddle the two three-year-olds in the Turf. The well-bred Mount Everest lacks the credentials of his stablemate, but does bring expected pace to the field. He won the listed Trigo S. at Leopardstown on October 19.
Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) winner Anthony Van Dyck will be formidable in his second U. S. venture. He was unplaced as the favorite following a poor trip in the 2018 Juvenile Turf (G1).
The marquee event of the weekend is a popular choice for the sophomores. Kentucky Derby (G1) second Code of Honor tops the list and will be a prominent player with his best showing in the Classic for Shug McGaughey.
Pennsylvania Derby (G1) upsetter Math Wizard, Preakness S. (G1) star War of Will and Oklahoma Derby (G3) winner Owendale, add depth for the young guys.