Saturday's Breeders' Cup Blog - Kate Miller
I know this was supposed to be a column all about the Euro raiders, where I administer sage advice, and insight (hopefully) about our chances, but I’ve been absolutely seduced by the Zenyatta story, and it’s pretty much the only thing I want to write about.
I’m not sure if it’s the same Stateside, but back home in Britain there is a reckless fib that parents spread to their children every Christmas to blackmail them into becoming respectable youths: ‘’If you’re not good this year then Father Christmas (Santa Claus) won’t come to visit.’’
Now I know we’re not quite in the holiday season, and neither have I been particularly good this year, but I have two really strong wishes that I’m hoping I can cash in regardless.
The first is that Goldikova wins. I know she is the goose to Zenyatta’s swan, but this would be the most fitting end to a tremendous career, and for Freddy Head – her charmingly, sincere trainer – a deserved achievement.
Overshadowed by Zarkava in her Juvenile and Classic seasons, she finally came into her own with a trio of straight Group One successes in the late summer of 2008. Since then, she has met defeat just three times in 14 starts – with each run in Group One Company, and almost all against the colts. Tough, tenacious and as versatile as they come, a third Breeders’ Cup Mile, and a place amongst the equine greats awaits her.
Paco Boy I think will be her main nemesis. Richard Hughes – entrenched in an enthralling end of season battle for the Jockeys’ Championship has opted for the plains of Doncaster as opposed to the straits of Churchill. Ryan Moore now takes the ride, and the former Champion jockey should need little introduction to US residents after his conquering Conduit wins in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. His cool head – with a pacing clock to rival Frankie, could aid the jinxed Paco in his final quest to overturn Goldilocks.
And after drawing a blank on the opening day, our European audiences need to get engaged pretty quickly. I’m hoping we’ll pick up one in the opening Juvenile Turf where Utley, Mantoba, and Master of Hounds make up a European triumvirate. Utley – representing dual JV Turf winning trainer John Gosden has an intriguing profile. His run in the Jean-Luc Lagadere in Paris was a better performance than his fifth-place suggests, and he ticks all the boxes of a perfect progressive candidate.
I’m not sure the Sprint will not trouble our score-line with just Girolomo tentatively representing the Brits via proxy-trainer Saeed Bin Suroor. I quite like the look of Wise Dan who despite running greenly in his last Group Three win has the all-important ‘course and distance’ form here at Churchill, and should be filed under the ‘could be anything’ unexposed category.
The Turf Sprint looks one of the most open contests of the entire meeting, but Rose Catherine – a daughter of 2004 BC Sprint winner Speightstown could surprise her elders with a 7-1 win for the girls.
Biondetti – despite all the positive trackside babble just isn’t doing it for me. Despite a Group One in Italy last time out, the Italian Group Ones do not have the gravitas of an Irish, French, or English version. I wonder if Uncle Mo might have a touch too much speed for two-turns, and perhaps the gambled-on Rogue Romance – a cosy winner at Keeneland last time could strike a double-figure blow.
The Dirt Mile, with the now notable absence of Crown of Thorns has a plethora of possible fancies, but Here Comes Ben, coming to the race by way of four consecutive wins should land the spoils.
Then to Breeders’ Cup Turf, where us Europeans are bidding for our 16th win on the green stuff. Andre Fabre with four wins, and four seconds at the BC should not be discounted with Behkabad, but I do think this win is reserved for Workforce.
And so to my second wish. Boring, predictably, it is for Zenyatta.
After grabbing a marrow-warming coffee over near the back straight media centre early yesterday morning I was caught in the middle of the Zenyatta mob en-route to track work.
Amidst the throng strode the lady herself. Unconcerned with the fuss, and moving with an ease that truly belies her 17’2 height she looked the complete athlete. I am certain that until my dying day she will be the only racehorse I witness with a paparazzi following, and a swarm of security guards.
A perfect vision of all that is wrong with modern society, in a location so contrary to Rodeo Drive, or Hollywood Boulevard where it would usually be seen.
With a flawless record of 19 wins, from 19 starts she embodies all that every race horse owner aspires to achieve when they invest in a foal at the sales. A horse that captures the imagination of the world.
For the story to be complete a faultless ‘twenty –not out’ will be her form lines late on Saturday evening. The pace in the race is strong, Mike Smith aboard her once again, and an 80,000 strong crowd to cheer her home, the atmosphere will be electric. It really is all I want for Christmas.
Named after the Police album of 1980 ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’ it seems only fitting that the main lady herself could see the crowd fully channelling track two on the famous album if she wins on Saturday. For those of you that aren’t familiar, the song is entitled: ‘Driven to Tears’.
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