The charge of Britain’s newly crowned champion trainer John Gosden will go off as hot favorite to win Saturday’s $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf in Kentucky as she looks to build on a glittering resume.
The four-year-old, owned by Saudi Prince Khalid bin Abdullah, has won nine of 10 starts and triumphed in her last eight races including a first Arc victory at Chantilly in 2017. She has won more than $7.6million in her storied career.
She will be ridden by regular jockey Frankie Dettori and will go off from the favored stall two in the one-and-a half-mile test at the famous Louisville racecourse.
Enable stormed from the pack in the final 100 meters at Paris Longchamp last month and held on for a narrow win as the fast-finishing Sea of Class chased her down.
It was a triumph of “sheer determination” and “class,” according to Gosden, who revealed she had an injury-disrupted year including a temperature in the weeks before the Arc. Gosden and Prince Khalid are not ruling out a bid for an historic third straight Arc win next year.
Her biggest threat at Churchill Downs could be from Waldgeist, trained in Chantilly by Frenchman Andre Fabre, who was a close fourth behind Enable in the Arc. Fabre’s defending champion Talismanic will be inside Enable in stall one.
The one ray of hope for the competition is the statistic that Arc winners are 0-7 when taking on the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year. On the other hand, eight of the last 10 winners have traveled from overseas, including the last three, and Enable is fresh, having only raced twice this season.
“Records are there to be broken,” the 47-year-old Dettori said Wednesday.
Chad Brown, trainer of US spearhead Robert Bruce, told the Breeders Cup website: “It’s obviously exciting to have her come over and participate in the Breeders’ Cup, but it’s a tall order to run against her.”
Will the Lion roar?
The Newmarket-based Gosden will also saddle the impressive Roaring Lion in the showpiece $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on the dirt.
Gosden, the 67-year-old Cambridge graduate who spent some of his early training career in California, won the Breeders Cup Classic with Raven’s Pass in 2008, one of his more than 100 Group One wins around the world.
The three-year-old Roaring Lion was third behind Masar in the Epsom Derby in June, but hit back with four Group One wins including the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at the season-ending British Champions Day at Ascot in September.
However, he has never run on dirt, and the heavy rain this week may count against him.
“It’s the kickback [that is the problem] and, if the track is sloppy, that’s probably a no-go,” Gosden told reporters at Churchill Downs. “The horses aren’t used to it and they start losing the rhythm of their breathing. But he’s a tough cookie, this horse. I wouldn’t have let him come here if I didn’t think he was mentally strong enough to handle it.”
The hot prospect for the $3.3 million first prize in the one-and-a-quarter mile race — the same distance as the Kentucky Derby — is the John Sadler-trained Accelerate, a multiple winner at the top level in the US. One negative for the dominant California five-year-old is the draw — he will come from the outside stall 14.
Revered Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is still chasing a first ever Breeders Cup Classic victory but has high hopes for the improving Mendelssohn despite a disappointing last place on a sloppy track in the Kentucky Derby.
Baffert eyes fourth win
Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor saddles the mercurial Thunder Snow, who pulled up after the start in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. However, the colt, who has won more than $8.5 million in his career, has been aimed at the Classic since winning the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, the man behind Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify, is targeting a fourth Classic win in five years. The US handler’s challenge will come from the fancied pair of West Coast, who was third last year, and McKinzie.
Mind Your Biscuits, Catholic Boy and Japan-bred Yoshida are also given decent chances by oddsmakers.
Other highlights of the prestigious two-day meeting are the $2 million Mile, the Filly and Mare Turf, the Sprint and the Distaff for female dirt horses.