Breeders’ Cup Trends: Dirt Races

October 30th, 2023

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is nearly upon us, as The Great Race Place will play host to an incredible two days of racing on Nov. 3 and 4. There have been five editions held at Santa Anita dating back to 2012, and the picturesque venue is one of the best locations to host the Championships, in my opinion. Below are a few things to consider when handicapping the dirt races over the weekend.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Since 2010, six California-based youngsters have come out on top in the event, which includes three of the five held in Arcadia as of late. New Year’s Day (2013), Texas Red (2014), and Storm the Court (2019) were the victors. With that said, I will pay extra attention to the two-year-olds that have raced in the Golden State in 2023.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies

A pair of California girls were victorious in the contest over the past five runnings, with the mighty Beholder (2012) and Champagne Room (2016) coming out on top. On the whole, however, the winners of the affair have been fair to all types of runners from different regions of the country. Having a measure of early speed is advantageous, but not a necessity.

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

The Golden State has been represented by five winners of the demanding race since 2010, with Goldencents carrying the local flag on two occasions at Santa Anita in 2013 and 2014. Speed has been a good thing for the majority of recent winners of the Dirt Mile, but the stunning late run produced by 2016 star Tamarkuz shows that horses can rally from well back and succeed in the tilt on this surface, as well.

Breeders' Cup Sprint

Following a four-year run from 2006-2009 with California-based runners taking down the dash, surprisingly only four West Coasters have eclipsed the heat since 2010. Two of those, however, did so at Santa Anita with Secret Circle (2013) and Drefong (2016) earning the glory. The perception that California has the "fastest" sprint runners is a bit overstated, in my view.

Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

The tally registered by Ian Kruljac trainee Finest City in 2016 is the lone victory in the race by a locally-based lass in the last five local runnings. This event has produced some unexpected results, and I haven’t noticed a recipe for success in the dash for the ladies, except that late-running types often make a lot of noise in the fray. I will not be scared to use deep closers in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

Breeders' Cup Distaff

The legendary Beholder is the lone California-based distaffer to capture this affair since 2010, which was quite surprising to me after researching it. She did so on two occasions (2013 and 2016) with both coming on this surface, and I will have a hard time backing the locals with any measure of confidence in the race.

Breeders' Cup Classic

Bob Baffert saddled 2014 hero Bayern and 2016 victor Arrogate to wins in the marquee event on this course, and a total of six Golden Staters have taken down the lucrative purse in the Classic dating back to Bayern’s coup. Having early speed translates well to success when going 1 1/4 miles on the Santa Anita main surface.