One Race Stands Out as Key Pointer to Longines Turf
By Kellie Reilly, TwinSpires.com
In the history of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), one race has stood out as the key pointer: the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1).
This makes sense intuitively. Since the international scene typically boasts greater strength in depth than the American turf division, it stands to reason that Europe’s fall championship should have a significant bearing on the Turf over a similar 1 1/2-mile trip.
The historical trends back up the general idea. Since 1990, when In the Wings became the first to use the Arc as a springboard to Turf glory, 10 more have followed the same route. The interesting twist is that no reigning Arc winner has turned the double in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Instead, most were coming off solid efforts in defeat in the Arc, just as In the Wings did when improving upon his fourth at Longchamp. The 2016 Turf neatly illustrates the point: Highland Reel, second in the Arc, gained revenge on Arc-winning stablemate (and defending Turf champ) Found at Santa Anita.
Other Turf heroes fitting this profile are Pilsudski (1996), who was the Arc runner-up; High Chaparral, third prior to each of his Turf scores in 2002 and 2003; Shirocco (2005), fourth; and Conduit, fourth en route to his Turf repeat in 2009. (Conduit had won the 2008 St Leger [G1] before his first Turf trophy.) St Nicholas Abbey (2011) was fifth in the Arc, yet didn’t miss second by much in a blanket finish for the minor placings.
But horses well beaten in the Arc are not to be overlooked in the Turf. Daylami (1999) is a case in point, roaring back to form at Gulfstream Park after an uncharacteristic ninth on an Arc staged over heavy going. Miss Alleged (1991) and Found (2015), also up the course in the Arc in their respective years, squeezed in another race ahead of the Breeders’ Cup. Miss Alleged finished fifth in the Budweiser International (G1) at Laurel on the way to upsetting the Turf at Churchill at odds of 42-1, while Found was second in the Champion (G1) at Ascot and wheeled back for Keeneland.
So what does this mean for this year’s edition of the Turf at Del Mar? Highland Reel won’t have the same potent trend line in his title defense, having skipped the Arc this time. That is particularly notable for an Aidan O’Brien trainee. Of O’Brien’s six Turf winners, five had competed in the Arc that fall, the others being High Chaparral, St Nicholas Abbey, and Found.
The Turf contender who fits the paradigm to a tee is Ulysses, the third-place finisher to star filly Enable in the October 1 Arc. Moreover, he’s trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who sent out the aforementioned Pilsudski and Conduit among his total of four Turf winners.
Things can change over the next three weeks, but at this writing, Ulysses may be the likeliest winner.
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