The Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf is the race that underscores the reasons why the event is known as the World Championships. America’s best turf horses are tested against some of Europe’s biggest stars on a green, mile-and-a-half stage that has showcased great champions such as Enable, who won last year’s Longines Turf and became the first horse to win the Turf and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the same year. In this year’s race, the big question is whether Bricks and Mortar can capture the Grade 1 contest and become the first Longines Turf winner to win Horse of the Year honors since 1993.
Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf
Racetrack: Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, Calif.
Date: Nov. 2
Purse: $4 million
Distance: 1 ½ miles
Post Time: 4:40 p.m. PT
Notable winners: Enable (2018), Found (2015), Main Sequence (2014), Conduit (2008-09), English Channel (2007), Fantastic Light (2001), Kotashaan (1993), Theatrical (1987), Manilla (1986), Pebbles (1985).
First held: 1984
1. Zulu Alpha (20-1): He would have landed the outside post alphabetically but instead came away with the rail. He’s won three graded stakes this year alone and is dangerous at the distance on his best try. An interesting longshot based on a wide trip last time in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the likelihood of a ground-saving trip here.
2. Acclimate (20-1): Looks like the one to catch. Has a nice dose of early speed and he’s won at a longer distance in the 1 ¾-mile San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita. He held on for second after leading through six furlongs in 1:09 3/5 in the 1 ¼-mile John Henry Turf Championship Stakes and could be dangerous if he gets away with soft fractions.
3. United (20-1): He was third in the John Henry Turf Championship Stakes, a little less than a length behind Acclimated. Given how he rallied from 12 lengths back against fast fractions and couldn’t catch Acclimate, it’s questionable if the longer race, and an inherently slower pace, will help him here. On a positive note, seven-figure stakes are a sweet spot for trainer Richard Mandella.
4. Mount Everest (15-1): Comes from the barn of Europe’s top trainer, Aidan O’Brien, and he was Group 2-placed last year But without a group stakes win to his credit this year, have to wonder if the 3-year-old is here to contest the early pace in order to help stablemate Anthony Van Dyck.
5. Anthony Van Dyck (3-1): Speaking of Anthony Van Dyck, he won the Investec Derby in June, but has struggled to find the winner’s circle after that. He’s suffered three straight losses since then, all in Group 1 company. One was an embarrassing loss to Enable, but he rebounded with an improved third in the QIPCO Irish Champions Stakes and might be getting better at the right time.
6. Channel Cat (15-1): He’s been competitive in Grade 1 stakes this year and took the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga. He’s a threat to figure in the superfecta, but for the win spot, he seems a cut below the best of them.
7. Alounak (20-1): German runner made his North American debut in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 12 and wound up second by a half-length. Now he continues his journey to California, but he’ll need to move forward off that last start to be a factor here.
8. Bandua (20-1): Was eighth in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes, but was only beaten two lengths. That might sharpen his speed, but with Acclimate in the field, and a third-place finish behind Bricks and Mortar when he set the pace in the Arlington Million, that may not be an asset. He’s finished eighth in two tries at the 1 ½-mile distance.
9. Bricks and Mortar (9-5): He’s 5-for-5 in 2019, with wins in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and Arlington Million and earnings of $4.5 million. Horse of the Year honors may be in the cards, but he’ll have to triumph in his first start beyond 1 ¼ miles in order to do it. It won’t be easy, but if anyone can coax 12 furlongs out of him, it’s trainer Chad Brown.
10. Old Persian (4-1): The Godolphin star enjoyed a successful North American debut by winning the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine in mid-September. He’s a Grade 1 winner in Dubai as well and with five wins in eight tries at 1 ½ miles he may prove to be the most formidable foreigner.
11. Arklow (12-1): He usually brings home a check for his connections, but he broke through with a Grade 1 win last time by winning the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park. That taste of victory might develop a passion for it in him and perhaps it will bring out the best in him once again.
12. Channel Maker (10-1): He beat Arklow by a neck in the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes but was a half-length behind him in the Joe Hirsch. Was also fourth to Bricks and Mortar in the Manhattan Stakes, but he has some speed and drawing the outside post figures to hinder rather than help his chances.
THE PICK: Bricks and Mortar
LIVE LONGSHOT: Arklow