From Circus Maximus on the fence to Raging Bull out in the parking lot, the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile brims with tough, hardened, fast middle-distance turf horses.
Eight American-based milers line up against six overseas invaders in a deep, deeply confounding Mile. How volatile could the Mile betting market become? Ivar, who won the Shadwell Turf Mile last month at odds of 14-1, was installed as the 4-1 favorite on the track’s morning line.
North American-based horses have won 22 BC Miles, international raiders 14, and the Europeans, while lacking star power, have come in force this year. Rail-drawn Circus Maximus finished fourth in the 2019 Mile at Santa Anita when he was in better form than he brings to this year’s race. Ryan Moore is tasked with working out a trip from the inside for trainer Aidan O’Brien, whose litany of Mile defeats runs long.
O’Brien brought a second horse in Lope Y Fernandez with a sneaky chance and a world-class jockey of his own, Frankie Dettori. Lope Y Fernandez doesn’t quite stay a mile served up European style but has a flashy burst that could be deployed to good use racing around two turns in America. So far this season, Lope Y Fernandez hasn’t even raced around one turn, with all his starts coming down a straightaway.
In the Irish 2000 Guineas, Lope Y Fernandez zoomed from last to first, only to be trampled in the late stages by Siskin, who’ll have his career finale in the Mile. Siskin added a solid third-place finish in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, a race in which Circus Maximus set the pace and held second. Siskin’s only other 2020 start yielded a tame fourth-place finish Sept. 6 in the one-mile Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.
Siskin harbors demons, and they fluttered into his pre-race comportment before the Moulin, compromising performance. A similar event occurred last year at 2, causing the colt to be scratched at the starting gate. On his game, Siskin fits the race for first-time Breeders’ Cup trainer Ger Lyons, who landed not only his first classic win this year, with Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas, but his second, when Even So won the Irish Oaks.
She has not lost anything during the intervening seasons. Following her foray to the Foret, she was back home in England with a fine third in the British Champions Sprint. That Oct. 17 race came only 13 days after the trip to France, and now One Master, owned by Americans Roy and Gretchen Jackson, has shipped overseas. She is hearty enough to handle it all.
Kameko is as capable as any of the Europeans, and in four one-mile races, he has two wins including a victory in the English 2000 Guineas a second, and a tough-luck fourth in the Sussex, where Kameko got buried on the fence and never found his way out. Ace jockey Oisin Murphy rides for trainer Andrew Balding.
Uni leads the Americans, and was she to reach into the past and pull out her best 2019 form, she could win the Mile for the second year in a row. Uni, one of three Chad Brown-trained entrants, hit dizzying heights last fall when she won the First Lady over the Keeneland course and streaked home at Santa Anita in an electric Mile score. Everything has been more difficult this year for 6YO Uni, who had early-season training interrupted by a mild setback, and ran decently but far below her best swinging back into action in the Grade 1 Just a Game in June.
And we hope you will enjoy taking a second look at last year's race which was won by Race Video 2019