Breeders Cup Turf Preview: The Fugue on song

The Breeders’ Cup Turf (10.22pm, Santa Anita Park, Saturday), run over a mile and a half, has proved a happy hunting ground for European horses in recent years, with horses trained in Britain, Ireland or France winning seven of the last ten renewals.

This year, Europe is represented by The Fugue and Magician, while a strong home contingent is headed by last year’s first and second, Little Mike and Point Of Entry.

Last year, The Fugue (9/4) contested the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, over a mile and a quarter, and was unlucky to finish third, beaten 1¾ lengths, despite repeatedly being denied a clear run. John Gosden’s decision to run her over an extra two furlongs against the colts is an interesting one, especially as the last filly to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf was Miss Alleged in 1991.

However, the daughter of Dansili has looked as good as ever on her last two starts, comfortably winning the Yorkshire Oaks, over a mile and a half, and the Irish Champion Stakes, over a mile and a quarter. She has missed her last two engagements because of unsuitably soft ground, but provided she arrives fit and ready to do herself justice after eight weeks off she looks the one to beat.

Aidan O’Brien has elected to run Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Magician (13/2) in the Breeders’ Cup Turf rather than the Breeders’ Cup Mile and, as a result, the son of Galileo has a few questions to answer. He won the Group 3 Dee Stakes, over 1 mile 2½ furlongs, at Chester in May, but he has yet to race, never mind win, over a mile and a half and finished last of nine, beaten 12½ lengths, behind Dawn Approach in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on his most recent start. He’s undoubtedly better than he showed on that occasion, but with doubts about his stamina and an absence of 137 days to overcome, he looks poor value at his current odds.

That is not to say that the American horses look particularly solid either. Little Mike (8/1) popped up at 25/1 in this race last year, holding on by a rapidly diminishing half a length from Point Of Entry, but was winning his first race in five starts since when holding on by a nose to beat Big Blue Kitten (7/1) in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park five weeks ago. There is clearly not much between them, but Big Blue Kitten, who was slightly hampered with two furlongs to run at Belmont Park, could well come out on top this time.

Point Of Entry (9/2) could be a real fly in the ointment. Claude McGaughey’s five-year-old has not raced since fracturing a cannon bone, which required surgery, while winning the Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park in June, but his trainer believes that with a little more luck in running he would have won this race last year. He commands respect, but it may be asking too much for him to win after an absence of 147 days and, consequently, his current odds look prohibitive.

Indy Point (12/1) won two Grade 1 races in his native Argentina as a three-year-old and the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship Stakes, over a mile and a quarter, on his most recent start. However, he had previously finished last of 13, beaten 26 lengths, in the Arlington Million and may lack the class to be seriously considered for win purposes.

A similar comment applies to Arlington Million winner Real Solution (16/1), who has just 1¾ lengths to find with Point Of Entry and a length to find with Little Mike on his form either side of his Arlington win. He could go well at a price, but a place looks the best he can hope for if the principals run to form.

With fewer questions to answer than her main market rivals, John Gosden’s decision looks fully vindicated, so our betting advice is to back THE FUGUE to win at best current odds of 9/4 with BetVictor, Stan James or William Hill.