The Breeders’ Cup Turf is the race that more than any other justifies the weekend’s billing as a world championship. It attracts the best middle-distance horses from Europe to a showdown with their US counterparts, and in terms of prestige and prize-money is second to only the Classic. Here are the Breeders’ Cup Turf odds and entries.
Breeders’ Cup Turf
The Turf is the one race on Breeders’ Cup weekend that is habitually stamped ‘marked for export’. European horses have won the Turf seven times in the last ten years, and given Europe’s constant strength in this department and the home team’s general weakness, it is sensible to concentrate on the shippers.
Last year’s Turf winner Tarnawa (9-5) returns to attempt a double that has been achieved only twice in the race’s history, both times by European invaders. The Irish mare has by far the best form in the book this year, finishing a narrow runner-up on her last two starts in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes and Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, arguably the best two races for older horses in Europe. None of her rivals can match that.
Her style of running may prove her greatest test in a big field, as she is usually ridden with restraint before staying on strongly, and traffic problems can occur. Last year at Keeneland Tarnawa had to move eight wide on the turn but was still not hard pressed to win, and her ten-furlong pace will always give her an advantage against pure stayers.
Fellow distaffer Teona (6-1) leapt to prominence with a comfortable defeat of Snowfall in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp, and although that form is now not as impressive as it seemed at the time, given Snowfall’s subsequent decline, Teona is a thorough stayer who has shown improvement for getting fast ground. With only six races under her belt, there is scope to move up again.
Trainer Charlie Appleby is doubly represented with horses familiar to a US audience. Across the pond Walton Street (8-1) is only a minor character, but he grabbed his first Grade 1 with a dominant display in the Canadian International at Woodbine, although the fact that he went off at odds-on illustrates well the weakness of that contest. He needs to produce much more here, and his stablemate Yibir (12-1) is both officially rated his superior and the barn’s first choice on jockey bookings.
Yibir has improved considerably for being gelded, going three-for-four since that operation and turning the ungraded Jockey Club Derby at Belmont Park into a procession on his most recent start. He trailed the field until coming with a rush on the turn, sweeping from last to first and kicking away for a visually impressive victory. The bare form doesn’t compare with what Tarnawa has achieved, but Yibir is a powerful galloper who stays very well and excels on fast ground.
Stamina a major issue
The home defence is dominated, as might be expected, by the in-form and turf-friendly trainer Chad Brown, who has three contenders headed by Domestic Spending (4-1). There is no doubting the four-year-old’s ability, as he is six-for-eight lifetime and a three-time Grade 1 winner, but there is a huge question mark over his stamina.
Domestic Spending has never raced beyond ten furlongs, and in a race loaded with European staying power there will be no hiding place for short runners. He finished off his race well when beating Tribhuvan and Gufo in the ten-furlong Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont Park, and it’s certainly possible that wasn’t the limit of his stamina, but his odds are pretty skinny for one with something so important to prove.
He is certainly the pick of Brown’s trio; Rockemperor (15-1) won his first Graded stakes when a longshot winner of the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch at Belmont Park with his usual blinkers removed. He does stay well, but is very inconsistent. Tribhuvan (20-1) nailed a first Grade 1 in the United Nations at Monmouth Park, but it’ll be almost impossible to make his gate-to-wire tactics pay off in this much stronger contest.
Victory in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga over a mile and a half pushed Gufo (8-1) into the spotlight, emphasising his improvement after the fitting of blinkers, but last time out he blotted his copybook with a limp display behind Rockemperor in the Joe Hirsch, making a premature move to the lead and fading in the stretch. He is better than that and, given his proven stamina, could be the best of the local runners.
Never underestimate the Germans
It is folly to underestimate German horses, especially after the Arc victory of Torquator Tasso. The lightly raced Deutsches Derby winner Sisfahan (12-1) merits plenty of respect after finishing a length behind the Arc winner in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden, although he has never raced on ground this fast and may find a few too quick for him.
Aidan O’Brien has trained the winner of the Turf a record six times but his challengers this year are not of top calibre. Japan (20-1) has lost the brilliance of his three-year-old days and was well beaten in the Joe Hirsch, while Broome (20-1) won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud four starts ago but is plagued by inconsistency and is easy to pass over.
Two years ago United (20-1) finished runner-up in the Turf, but was only eighth in the race last year. Despite his fine form of 2021, three-for-five including victory in the Grade 2 Eddie Read here and in the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita, it would be a leap of faith to suggest that he can improve on his race record and collect his first Grade 1 prize at the age of six.
Betting Prediction for The Breeders’ Cup Turf
This is not the deepest field ever assembled for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and even the Europeans lack their habitual strength in depth. Last year’s winner TARNAWA has been in tremendous form this year, is comfortably the best horse in the race, and only bad luck in running is likely to prevent the Irish mare achieving back-to-back Turf victories.
Breeders’ Cup Turf odds pre-entry future book
|BC Turf Contenders||Horse Racing Odds courtesy of Jazzsports||Field Facts|
|Tarnawa||+180||Runner-up G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, very strong form; won this race in style last year|
|Domestic Spending||+400||G1 Manhattan one of three top-level wins; class aplenty but stamina a huge issue|
|Teona||+600||Won G1 Prix Vermeille; three-for-six lifetime, stamina-rich filly who relishes fast ground|
|Gufo||+1000||G1 Sword Dancer win proved stamina; has improved plenty for blinkers and may be best US hope|
|Walton Street||+800||Won G1 Canadian International, lifetime best; second-string behind stablemate Yibir|
|Sisfahan||+1200||G1 Deutsches Derby winner; improving fast but this is tough on unfamiliar fast ground|
|Yibir||+1000||Dominant winner of Jockey Club Derby; three-for-four since being gelded and on the upgrade|
|Rockemperor||+1500||G1 Joe Hirsch was first Graded stakes win; just two wins from last 15 and inconsistent|
|Acclimate||+2000||Won G3 San Juan Capistrano, only win in last 11 starts; one-for-seven at Del Mar|
|Astronaut||+2000||G2 Del Mar Handicap winner; two-for-nine lifetime and is making his Grade 1 debut|
|Broome||+2000||Won G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud; one-for-eight at the top level and short on class|
|Japan||+2000||Runner-up in G1 Sword Dancer; only victories in G3 since brilliant three-year-old campaign|
|Tribhuvan||+2000||Winner of G1 United Nations; front-running tactics won’t suit here, trainer’s third-string|
|United||+2000||Won G2 John Henry Turf Championship; three-for-five in 2021 but no Grade 1s at age of six|