The Breeders’ Cup may be 50 weeks away, but there were some takeaways from the recently concluded 34th edition of the World Championships that should be stored away to unlock some winners a year from now.
In particular, in a few of the stakes a certain trainer continued a vise-like grip that should merit close attention in 2018.
Let’s start with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, where Europe’s top trainer, Aidan O’Brien, was victorious with Mendelssohn, capturing the Grade 1 stakes for the fourth time in seven years. Beyond that, in two of three years in which he failed to reach the winner’s circle, he sent out the second-place finisher.
In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, it was America’s turf ace, Chad Brown, who continued to be a dominant force. Aside from winning the race in back-to-back years with 2-year-olds owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, the victory by Rushing Fall gave Brown three wins in the last four editions of the race.
In the Breeders’ Cup Turf, O’Brien finished third with Highland Reel, yet with four wins in the last seven years and two more thirds and a second in the other three years, his horses merit special attention in the mile-and-a-half test.
Additionally, the victory by Talismanic should not have been a big surprise when you consider his connections. His trainer, the renowned European horseman Andre Fabre, not only has won the Turf three times but also sent out eight horses who finished second or third.
Finally, Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert did not win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. That honor went to Steve Asmussen with probable Horse of the Year Gun Runner. Yet with second- and third-place finishes behind Gun Runner tacked onto Baffert’s wins in the three previous runnings of the Classic, there’s certainly ample reason to back whichever horse the white-haired Hall of Famer turns into a monster in the older male division without Gun Runner or Arrogate in 2018.