Monday, September 14, 2009

A Different Prep

For most racing fans, the biggest prep race in Europe for the Breeders' Cup has always been the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in France. Let's take a quick look at the facts. No winner of the Arc has EVER gone on to win a Breeders' Cup race. Some of them have come close like Trempolino in 1987 and Sakhee in 2001, but the fact remains that it has yet to happen.

The race that might be turning into a better prep than the Arc was just run this past weekend. The Group 1 St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster in England is run at the marathon distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards. It is the third and final leg of the British Triple Crown (along with the 2,000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby). You probably need to pack a lunch to watch the replay of the race, but there are two examples of St. Leger winners in the last decade that have had some success on Breeders' Cup day.

In 2001, Milan was the big winner at Doncaster and ended up being the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf to five-year-old veteran Fantastic Light. He was sent off that day at odds of 8-1 and overcame a five-wide trip to finish less than a length off the winner. Last year, Conduit won the St. Leger and was third choice in the wagering at 6-1 in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Conduit went on to win the Turf by a driving length and a half.

This year's St. Leger winner was a 14-1 longshot named Mastery from the Godolphin Stable. If he is sent to the Breeders' Cup by trainer Saeed bin Suroor, keep an eye out for him. Suroor also trained the second-place finisher in the St. Leger, Kite Wood, who went off at odds of 9-4, so you might want to be on the lookout for him at Santa Anita also.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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