AS Clinton and Trump continue to dish the dirt in the Presidential campaign, two heavyweights of the dirt will battle it out stateside in the Breeders’ Cup meeting.
Santa Anita’s two-day racing fest starts tonight (Friday) but in Saturday’s Classic the best dirt horse in the world, California Chrome, will be looking to make it seven from seven in 2016 and he has come long way since running out an easy winner of the Dubai World Cup back in March.
The last two starts have produced emphatic wins for a horse bred on a shoestring by enthusiastic amateurs. He blew away star mare Beholder where the turf meets the surf at Del Mar in the Pacific Classic, before making all back here a month ago to collect the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes.
His main rivals could be the Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate, who has notched up four wins on the bounce, and Frosted, who can be frustratingly inconsistent. But after missing the meeting last year ‘Chromey’ has a point to prove and I think will do so in resounding style.
Tonight’s (Friday) star attraction in the Distaff over 1m 1f on the dirt is the unbeaten filly Songbird who has dominated her three-year-old age group, and the main danger will come from two older horses in Stellar Wind and Beholder, who battled it out in the Zenyatta a month ago, and that may have taken too much out of the four-year-old Stellar Wind and could pave the way for another melodic victory.
But the race I’m most looking forward to is the Breeders’ Cup Mile over turf, where Limato can overcome a lamentable record of British-trained horses. He has an exceptional chance of overturning hot favourite Tepin.
Limato’s trainer Henry Candy is the quintessential Englishman, but he might not be popular come Saturday night if his four-year-old bay gelding shows his trademark pace as getting the trip shouldn’t be a problem.
Others to keep an eye on in California include Ectot who has to beat Flintshire but will relish the quick ground in the Turf over a mile and four, and looks overpriced in double figures.
Mongolian Saturday also makes for some appeal in the Turf Sprint.
He seemed overawed by Newmarket’s wide open spaces and seems made for the American style of training and racing and gets my vote to pip Wesley Ward’s Undrafted.
Yellow Agate has done nothing wrong and this expensive yearling is bred to improve with her racing and will get the trip stood on her head in Saturday’s Juvenile Fillies.
Tomorrow’s meeting at Doncaster brings the curtain down on the turf season and it could be another day of rich pickings for Malton trainer Richard Fahey.
He has a strong hand in the 1.50 with Withernsea and second string Right Touch but watch out for the Mark Johnston-trained Highly Sprung to bounce back to form.
It is worth noting that the three-year-old owned by Dougie Livingstone is also entered for Doncaster’s 4.05 Apprentice Handicap and should be followed.
Michael Easterby’s Magic City is also down to run in the Apprentice Handicap and local connections have been waiting all year for a pay day from their seven-year-old gelding, so don’t be surprised to see it happen tomorrow.
Fahey follows up in the 2.25 Listed race with Growl who has been in the form of his life after being fitted with cheekpieces for the first time at Ascot in the Champions Sprint where he pushed home The Tin Man.
The Malton handler and recent new father may also choose to bring back Donjuan Triumphant for a final run, but don’t ignore the claims of Dandy Nicholls’ Kimberella – who is back at his optimum trip - and John Gosden’s Johnny Barnes who missed the break over 6f last time.
The feature race is the November Handicap where David O’Meara will be looking for a second win in three years with Tawdeaa.
A big price each way, I like the Keith Dalgleish-trained Maleficent Queen.
• Local firm Carrigill’s are putting up a nap every weekend, and if their tip does not finish in the top four punters will get their money back as a free bet.
But to qualify you must clearly write AUGUR on the slip and it must be for their selection, which this week runs on Saturday at Doncaster (see below). They will be going for their second win on the trot this week with Andrew Balding’s Montaly in the November Handicap.
AUGUR’S BEST BETS FOR THE WEEKEND: Limato in the Breeders’ Cup Mile Saturday Santa Anita, 11.40pm UK time
CARRIGILL’S NAP: Montaly in the November Handicap Doncaster, Saturday 3.35pm (free bet if finishes outside the top four, ask in shop for details).
AUGUR’S ONE TO WATCH: Waldgeist. Waldgeist was immediately quoted at 16-1 in the Derby, for which Aiden O’Brien’s Churchill remains favourite.