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Matt Chapman: A 9/1 Breeders’ Cup shot to heat up your Friday night – Yeeehaaa!

Matt Chapman is at Santa Anita, California for the Breeders' Cup. Tough gig, eh. Here he runs through the card for Friday's races and gives a guide on how to tackle the U.S. formlines...

by Matt Chapman | October 30, 2014

At Santa Anita it was 87 degrees on Wednesday and 86 on Tuesday. That’s hot, like the selections I’m going to make for the first night of Breeders’ Cup 2014. California Chrome jockey Victor Espinoza (main picture) was certainly feeling it too. You hear me, Paddy?

In general terms, the Breeders’ Cup is simple – Americans on the dirt, Europeans and Christophe Clement on the Turf. But, of course, there are exceptions to the rules so be careful.

And as far as dirt racing is concerned few do what Zenyatta did. Pace holds up and to come from behind is tough, albeit not impossible.

So let’s tackle Friday’s card where there are four Breeders’ Cup races.


The Euro angle plays strong statistically here, with five for the seven renewals having been won by the raiders. The record is even better when you take into account the number of challengers to the home team in the same period. The problem for stats fans here is Hootenanny, who is a US Wesley Ward inmate but proven in Europe.

He’s classy, but his stamina is suspect and while he may just be too good, I have to take him on. For me, the value bet is the fast improving COMMEMORATIVE, who was tipped up here at 10-1 when winning at Newmarket last time. He’s improving fast and has been delighting Charlie Hills. His stall is a good one for a horse who will go forward and stay strong, and he might just surprise a few people again (at about 9/1).


The race for pace – closers rarely do well. I really wanted to tip Fed Biz here, who chased home Classic hope Shared Belief in a cracking run last time. But trainer Bob Baffert has convinced me that his big rival GOLDENCENTS is going to be too good. The selection is well berthed for a horse expected to lead, and has been burning up the Santa Anita track in preparation. I think he will become the first favourite to land this race.


This has been a tough race for favourite backers or indeed market leaders, so be warned! For various reasons the raiders may struggle, with Osaila far from a star (yet), and Prize Exhibit and Qualify drawn badly.

Wesley Ward may hold the key with the exciting Sunset Glow, who ran at Royal Ascot, but take a chance in an open race with LADY ELI, who was powerful in victory in Graded company on her second start, and has similar form to the 2008 heroine Maram from the same yard. Tough race.


The big race of the first night, and leading hope CLOSE HATCHES will have to front-run from an outside box which makes things interesting. Added to that, not many come back to this race and do well. That said, with Untapable a closer next door, Close Hatches may well get a good early run and should prove hard to peg back. She’s all class for the maestro Bill Mott.

So best of luck. I’ll be back with more domestic and U.S. news on Saturday, including tips for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. What we want is Yeeehaaas! Bring it on.

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