By: Eric DeCoster
Race #10: The Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf (Turf – 1 1/2 Miles) 3 YO+
Purse: $4 Million
The Breeders’ Cup Turf presents three very differing and very exciting top choices. Godolphin and Charlie Appleby return to defend their title with two top runners – #5 Rebel’s Romance (3-1 ML) and #7 Nation’s Pride (7/2 ML). Rebel’s Romance is the morning line choice off of four straight victories, the last two coming in Group 1 company. I will say those scores came in Germany where the quality of competition doesn’t quite stack up to the rest of the competition, but nevertheless you have to consider the consistent season he’s put together. Nation’s Pride provides a little bit more pop in my opinion on the merits of his Grade 3 Jockey Club Derby win last time out. There were questions about his ability to get the distance but he laid those to rest easily with a dominant 6 length victory. Once again, probably not the strongest competition, but Yibir was able to handle his company just fine last year when exciting a race of similar quality.
#2 War Like Goddess (9/2 ML) is the last of the three clear top options. This wonderful mare handled the boys with ease in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic most recently and has been the model of consistency. In fact, the only reasons she’s seemingly lost in her career was when rider intervention prevented her from leaving her mark. She’ll have to beat some tough customers from overseas, but for my money she has the most complete resume of the bunch.
#11 Mishriff (6-1 ML) has received some love and it’s warranted to certain extents. The former Saudi Cup winner has run some bang up races this year, including a G1 Coral Eclipse he would’ve won with a clear journey, but it’s hard to ignore the fact he hasn’t won since August 2021. While he’s been facing the best and putting forward credible efforts at times, wins do matter and he doesn’t have many of them lately. #4 Broome (12-1 ML) is another Euro with a good resume. He was a close 2nd in this race a year ago under a very smooth Irad Ortiz Jr ride, and they’re reunited for the first time since on Saturday. He may only have one win in 2022, but then again his form wasn’t stellar heading into last year’s Turf. Nevertheless, there’s still improvement needed on the back of four out of the money runs.
I don’t think the race could run through anyone else, but #6 Channel Maker (30-1 ML) does deserve his flowers. He will be setting a record once he leaves the gates Saturday as the first horse to ever make six starts in a Breeders’ Cup. It’s very rare for a horse to run from 2 to 8 years old, let alone at this consistently high of a level. The sturdy gelding was a Grade 2 winner in April over this course, wasn’t beaten too far by #13 Highland Chief (15-1 ML) in the Grade 3 Sycamore last year, and has been the best finisher amongst U.S. runners in the last two Breeders’ Cup Turfs. That includes a 3rd behind Tarnawa and Magical in the 2020 edition over course and distance. He may have very little chance, but there’s positives and it would be a hell of a story.
The Choice – #2 War Like Goddess
Often times in sports the phrase “complete body of work” is thrown around when comparing two or more teams. When I look at this Breeders’ Cup Turf, there’s three high quality commodities we’re looking at with the Godolphin duo and this star mare. What separates her to me is that she has consistently delivered at the highest level and has handled very similar company to this race. She has the complete body of work necessary to win this year’s Turf.