Improvers – they can be the bane of many a punter’s life. Not knowing which horses will suddenly show some interest in competing at the top can lead to many a big price winner going unbacked.
Just as well then, that the Breeders Cup Mile is a race where you can rely on the formbook as gospel.
Only once in two decades has a winner of this race not previously tasted victory in a Group 1 or Group 2.
Even more so, 17 of those 19 that had won at the highest level, did so that season.
There are four horses in this year’s field that have yet to win anything better than a Group 3 (Mustajeeb, Veda, Sayaad and Tourist), while Anodin has yet to win a race this campaign, let alone a good one.
But it is not just seasonal form that looks important in this race: A whopping 18 of the last 20 winners finished in the first three on the preceding run.
Another quartet of runners this time round fail to meet this trend; Karakontie disappointing in the Prix De La Foret, Obviously finishing in the second half of the field in a Del Mar Handicap, and Seek Again and Kaigun finishing well beaten in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes.
Having a prep run seems important for the race as well, with every winner in the last 10 years running within 50 days of the contest.
Both Tom’s Tribute and Summer Front last saw track action well over two months ago, so whether they have had the prime preparation remains to be seen.
Of our remaining trio, while Grand Arch has met all the trends so far, we are doubtful over his ability. He has only won once, and was last seen finishing behind a couple of these at Woodbine, so is discounted from our shortlist.
Richard Hannon’s Toronado is undoubtedly the class act in this field and without Wise Dan lining up this year does hold huge chances of going nine better than his stable-mate Olympic Glory last year.
A winner of the Queen Anne Stakes, before a respectable second in the Sussex Stakes and the Prix du Moulin, the form is all there.
He has though, at times, taken a while to hit top gear, which could cause problems on the short run-in at Santa Anita, but if all goes to plan, he will be tough to beat.
At 2/1 he is a fairly skinny price, and therefore could tempt some to take a chance on one at a bigger price.
TRADE STORM warmed up for this race the same way last year’s victor did, by taking the Woodbine Mile, and having secured some experience around a track with tight turns, will know what is expected of him in California.
He will get his rattling ground that he likes, and is the perfect come-late-from-the-back ride that Jamie Spencer seems to enjoy.
He is well drawn to avoid traffic problems, and if doing so could run a big race at tasty odds of 14/1.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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