Future Stars Friday often brings some of the best future stars into the spotlight with classic winners War of Will and Anthony Van Dyck among the horses who ran in the races just last year. Often, Europeans send over some of their best and brightest over to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships — including the last two Epsom Derby winners in Masar and the aforementioned Anthony Van Dyck.
Here are some of the international horses you should keep an eye on in 2019 during the five Breeders’ Cup races for 2-year-olds this Friday.
The winner of three of his five starts, A’Ali (6-1 morning line) may be the strongest of the European challengers in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. The colt’s only off-the-board finish came on heavy ground in an August Group 1 race against a monster in Earthlight. Other than that, he has barely put a step wrong with a second in his debut by a neck his only other loss. A’Ali comes into this race with two Group 2 victories — including a one-length win last out — and trainer Simon Crisford has been aiming him here for a while so you know he’ll be primed to run well.
Two-year-old filly Band Practice (12-1 ML) comes into this race off three straight victories, although none of those have been at the group-stakes level. The Archie Watson-trained filly did win a listed stakes in France in her last start and has been untouchable since breaking her maiden in September. All three of her wins came between Sept. 2 and Sept. 30, so she’ll have more a month off before competing in this race so she should be fresh and ready to go come Friday.
An eight-length victor in his second start, Arizona (5-2 ML favorite) has shown promise throughout the year and looks to get his first Grade/Group 1 victory here. The colt has the Breeders’ Cup in his genes as his sire, No Nay Never, finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in 2014 and his dam’s sire, English Channel, won the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2007. If you think you’ve heard Arizona’s name before, you probably heard it at Royal Ascot in June when the colt won the Group 2 Coventry Stakes. He hasn’t won since then but has finished on the board in two Group 1 races in his last two starts behind probable European champion Pinatubo.
Fort Myers (12-1 ML) joins stablemate Arizona in this race for 12-time Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has won this race four times (most recently with Mendelssohn in 2017). The colt has had a busy season with seven races starting in April but has been consistent with no finish worse than fourth. Fort Myers is looking for his first group/graded stakes win but scored by a length in the Star Appeal Stakes Oct. 4 and has hit the board at both the Group 2 and Group 3 level.
Trained by Jessica Harrington for the legendary Niarchos Family, Albigna (9-2 ML favorite) is coming into the Juvenile Fillies Turf off an impressive Group 1 victory in the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac Oct. 6. Her only misstep in four career races came two starts ago when sixth in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. One start before that she won a Group 2 races five weeks after breaking her maiden. Harrington has never had a starter in the Breeders’ Cup before but looks to be bringing a strong contender here.
A Group 3 winner at Royal Ascot, Daahyeh (5-1 ML) comes to Santa Anita off a win in the Group 2 Shadwell Rockfel Stakes which followed a close second in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. Trainer Roger Varian gave the filly a few months off over the summer after she’d run three straight months from May to July, and she’s coming into this race fresh off a month break after running two times in 14 days in September.
Shadn (10-2 ML) was thrown into the deep end quickly after winning on debut and, while that Group 2 race at Royal Ascot didn’t go well for her, it did see her come on quite a bit. The No Nay Never filly won her next race and then closed for a pair of thirds in her next two starts before winning a French Group 2 race by a head in October. Somewhat surprisingly, this will be her trainer Andrew Balding’s first time running a horse at the Breeders’ Cup.
Etoile (12-1 ML) is coming into the race with only two starts under her belt for Aidan O’Brien who has two seconds and one third in this race but has yet to win it with 12 starters. By War Front — sire of Omaha Beach and War of Will — the filly won a Group 3 in her debut in May but was eighth in a Group 1 in September. Etoile was pre-entered for the Juvenile Fillies as well, but O’Brien opted to target this race instead. Post-position 14 is a tough assignment with a short run into the first turn.
Japanese-trained horses have run in 10 Breeders’ Cup races since the inaugural Breeders’ Cup event in 1984 and Full Flat (30-1 ML) is one of two Japanese entries bringing that number up to 12 this year. Bred in Kentucky, Full Flat was bought for $250,000 at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale and is making a bit of a homecoming back to the U.S. for this race. Full Flat broke his maiden in his second career start back in August and comes into this race off a fifth-place finish in the Momiji Stakes a few weeks ago. The Speightstown colt will be the first Japanese-trained horse to run in a 2-year-old Breeders’ Cup race and, if he can hit the top three, will also have the best finish of any Japanese-trained horse in a Breeders’ Cup race.