Breeders’ Cup Favourites: Tom Collins judges Saturday’s market leaders at Santa Anita

3 November 2023

The best two days of international racing - or any racing if you’re asking for my opinion - are just around the corner as Santa Anita hosts the 2023 Breeders’ Cup at the end of this week.

There’s a healthy mix of short-priced jollies and tentative favourites on Saturday’s older horse programme, and their fate will determine whether or not it’s a successful festival for the majority of bettors. In this column, I’ll assess their chances of winning and allocate a ‘boom’ or ‘bust’ tag.

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (6.30pm GMT)

Favourite: Cody’s Wish (4/5)

Arguably the best dirt horse in the country, Cody’s Wish looks for back-to-back wins in Saturday’s opening Breeders’ Cup race after connections opted to stick to the tried and tested route rather than plumping for the Classic. He hasn’t been at his best recently, but this field has come up light after recent defections and it would take a subpar performance for him to lose.

Boom or Bust: Boom

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (7.10pm GMT)

Favourite: Inspiral (9/4)

An admirable filly who has five Group 1 victories to her name, Inspiral has to be respected as she ships to the US for the first time for what appears to be a winnable edition of the Filly & Mare Turf. Her recent Sun Chariot Stakes win was impressive, although it’s important to note that she didn’t face a deep field, and this marks her first try over 1m2f. That could catch her out.

Boom or Bust: Bust

Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (7.50pm GMT)

Favourite: Goodnight Olive (Evens)

Gate one isn’t ideal for this mare due to her running style, but she is the reigning champion in this division. Irad Ortiz found himself boxed in at a crucial stage on Goodnight Olive in the Derby City Distaff at Churchill earlier this season and won’t want a repeat of that here. Nevertheless, her form is the strongest on offer and she will get an ideal pace setup.

Boom or Bust: Boom

Breeders’ Cup Mile (8.30pm GMT)

Favourite: Mawj (3/1)

A headstrong filly who fended off the brilliant Tahiyra in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket before coming back off a 161-day absence to win the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland last month. She was all out to win despite getting the perfect trip against a weak group for the level. Mawj has tactical speed, but she will need to improve and therefore I don’t want to take a short price.

Boom or Bust: Bust

Breeders’ Cup Distaff (9.10pm GMT)

Favourite: Idiomatic (7/4)

The winner of seven races in 2023, Brad Cox’s Idiomatic bids to round out a phenomenal season during which her only defeat came when second in the Ruffian Stakes at Belmont Park back in May. Her main asset is early speed and she has been left alone up front in recent races, which is why she’s had so much success. That might not be the case here. I much prefer two of her rivals.

Boom or Bust: Bust

Breeders’ Cup Turf (9.50pm GMT)

Favourite: Auguste Rodin (5/2)

Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien have excelled in this contest with four and six wins apiece, and they team up with Auguste Rodin this time around. He’s been allocated a good draw in stall five and will enjoy the quick ground, but only five of the last 20 winners have been three-year-olds. He has a good chance if he avoids traffic.

 Boom or Bust: Boom

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Classic (10.40pm GMT)

Favourite: Arabian Knight (5/2)

A $2.3million purchase who represents Flavien Prat, Bob Baffert and Zedan Stables. This colt has run just twice this year - he put up an odd display in the Haskell, before plundering the Pacific Classic over this distance. Arabian Knight will be part of the pace in a weak edition of the Classic but I can’t have him at those odds, especially from gate 12. 

Boom or Bust: Bust

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (11.25pm GMT)

Favourite: Live In The Dream (11/4)

It would be the good news story of the week if Live In The Dream were to win the Turf Sprint for trainer Adam West. The Nunthorpe hero warmed up for this contest with a fair effort at Keeneland, but he will need to be much stronger in the closing stages this time if he’s to hold off the closers. With no guarantee that he will make the lead and the likelihood of a wicked early pace regardless, I have to take him on. 

Boom or Bust: Bust

Breeders’ Cup Sprint (12.01am GMT)

Favourite: Elite Power (6/4)

A decisive winner of this contest last year, Elite Power will look to end the card on the right note for favourite backers under Irad Ortiz. His eight-race win streak may have come to an end in the Forego at Saratoga last time, but slow early fractions and seven furlongs are plausible reasons for a lacklustre finishing effort. Expect much better this time.

Boom or Bust: Boom

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