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Buena Vista Boosts Red Desire's Hopes
This past weekend's racing in Japan and France offered some keen insights into the chances of a number of foreign-trained entries in the Breeders' Cup. The most telling event occurred at Tokyo Racecourse, where Buena Vista ran the best race of her life in defeating males in the $3.1 million, Grade 1 Autumn Tenno Sho going 1 1/4 miles on turf.
Japan's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf hopeful Red Desire may be rightly considered Buena Vista's archrival. The two of them, both 4-year-olds, have met four times in their careers and have never been separated by more than a length.
A bit of background on Buena Vista first. Her victory in the Tenno Sho, or Emperor's Cup, one of Japan's most coveted races, came after a 4-month layoff. In her previous start she had finished a half-length second in the 1 3/8-mile, Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen to Nakayama Festa, the horse who was a neck second to Breeders' Cup Turf favorite Workforce in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 3.
An analysis of the four clashes between Buena Vista and Red Desire makes them difficult to separate. Their first meeting came on April 12, 2009 in the one-mile Oka Sho, or Japanese 1000 Guineas. It was just the thrid race of Red Desire's career, yet she ran the victorious and more experienced Buena Vista to just a half-length in finishing second at 13.40-1.
Six week later in the 1 1/2-mile, Yushun Himba, or Japanese Oaks, Red Desire was caught on the line by Buena Vista, the margin between them a mere nose.
Red Desire would take a measure of revenge on Oct. 18 when she held off a hard charging and rather unlucky Buena Vista in the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 1 Shuka Sho.
Buena Vista would then skip the all-important Japan Cup at 1 1/2 miles on Nov. 29 when Red Desire would finish third behind the great Vodka with Japanese St. Leger winner Oken Bruce Lee in the runner-up spot..
Both fillies spent some time in Dubai this winter, Red Desire besting males in Round 3 of the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge going 1 1/4 miles on the Meydan Tepeta. Buena Vista's unlucky second to Dar Re Mi in the 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic was probably a slightly better effort than Red Desire's Maktoum Challenge victory.
The pair returned to Japan to meet in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile, a race restricted to fillies and mares. In it, Buena Vista beat Red Desire into fourth place by a length, the mile proving too short a distance for the Filly & Mare Turf candidate..
Buena Vista and Nakayama Festa will battle it out for Japanese Horse of the Year honors in this year's Japan Cup on Nov. 28 and the Arima Kinen on Dec. 26. Red Desire will not be able to make the Japan Cup because of quarantine restrictions which will make it impossible for her to run on such short notice. She will, however, be able to run in the Arima Kinen, should her connections so desire.
So, if Buena Vista is just a half-length behind Nakayama Festa, and if Nakayama Festa is just a head behind Arc winner Workforce, and if Red Desire is about a half-length or less behind Buena Vista, that form would give Red Desire a good chance of winning the Breeders' Cup Turf. As she is almost sure to opt for the Filly & Mare Turf, her form on paper is better than that of the race favorite and defending titleholder Midday.
Red Desire worked brilliantly on the Churchill Downs main track on Saturday, going 5 furlongs in a minute flat. It was the second best of 41 works on the tab and it signaled that she will be a major force in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Roderic O'Connor's 1 1/2-length victory in the juvenile one-mile, Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on Sunday does not relate directly to any particular horse in the Breeders' Cup. It does however, frank the form at the top end of the European 2-year-old division, which is as strong as we have seen in many a year.
In his previous outing, Roderic O'Connor had attempted to lead throughout in the 7-furlong, Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes before giving way to Frankel, the Galileo colt who rates as the best 2-year-old in the world. The eight Europeans in the juvenile turf races and the two in the juvenile dirt races all benefit by the solid form that has been on display in Britain, France and Ireland since early summer at Royal Ascot.
In the juvenile turf races, it is wise to remember that the Euros in those contests have been competing against the best of the European turf strong division. Their American rivals, meanwhile, have been competing in turf races that rate as a second division behind our juvenile dirt stakes.
YouTube is a great source of foreign race replays. For instance, type "Goldikova Longchamp" into the search engine and the first video is her Prix de la Foret, complete coverage with English commentary... there are also fractional times.
Keep these gems coming, Alan. How would you separate, if at all, Workforce and Bekhabad? (At his best Workforce may be in sea the Stars class. He may not like the very firm ground. however. That, along with the fact that Behkabad had a troubled trip in the Arc and that a Churchill Downs 12 furlongs is a different kettle of fish than Longchamp, may move Behkabad up. I will take Behkabad as better value, even though Workforce is capable of winning by 3 or 4 lengths.) AS
Beacuse Ave and Changing Skies are not entered in any Breeders' Cup races, and Red Desire almost beat both of them fresh off the plane anyway. That race was just a prep for Red Desire. He wasn't trying to beat them. You understand now?
It does appear based upon running lines that Red Desire has kept top flight company this year and that her best race puts her in the thick of things. The odds should be generous on her as well, based upon the flawed logic that would have some believing that Red Desire is inferior to Ave or Changing Skies and by proxy the other US based entrants. Red Desire's last race was a clear prep for the FM Turf and one that should serve her well. She obviously needed the race and in a small way exerted her superiority when taking the lead in the stretch, but showed that she was likely short by not sustaining the kick. So people would be wise to take note of Red Desire before starting their hadicapping with the Eurpoean shippers. Japanese horses have shown they can more than hold there own against the best in the world over the past few years in Dubai. On Saturday a Japanese based horse is likely going to claim their first BC title too. No disrespect to Midday intended, as she will more than likely be fighting to the end.
Now Alan you must not patronize us poor colonials too severely. We've only just begun over here and are trying to outgrow our provincialism as best we can manage. In all seriousness though I have to say I find it extremely frustrating that in the year 2010 it is well nigh impossible to locate video coverage of so many European races. As much as I appreciate your thorough coverage of the international scene it would be much more fulfilling to the handicapping process if the player could actually watch the horses they must wager on. With all the money involved I think it's a disgrace that the Breeders Cup itself doesn't offer comprehensive international video replays. It does not however surprise me, they are simply money changers. I must agree with Kyle in that the Japanese shipper did not impress me in her Belmont race. I did see that Mike Welsh loved her work the other day after being taken aback by her choppiness in morning gallops previously. Therein lies the real frustration with the Euro/International angle. There just so often seems to be insider information available to those on the in and not the general public. Frustrating, especially when being asked to take short odds. (Yes, you are absolutely right about the lack of video coverage of foreign races. Log on to www.japanracing.jp and if you navigate successfully, you can find replays of Red Desire's Japanese races and Espoir City's Japan Racing Association races (the ones at Tokyo, Hanshi and Kyoto). The Racing Post website offers videos of British races for a fee (www.racingpost.com). Paris-Turf offers- free- something called a diorama of races run on the Parisian circuit. These are still photos taken about every furlong and more frequently in the stretch. Log on to www.paris-turf.com.) AS
Completely agree with Kyle, unless you're going to argue that the bog that was the Belmont turf that day really hurt her.
Why no mention of Ave and Changing Skies? By your logic, they must be Workforce's equal. Strange their connections wouldn't feast on the easy pickings that you suggest would await them in the F&M Turf. Truth be told., the Flower Bowl was more a Grade II his year. And that is Red Desire's current form. She showed she's not Grade I outside of Japan with that dismal run in the World Cup and she confirmed things in the Flower Bowl. (Handicapping is best done by figuring what a horse will do when at it's best. At her best, Red Desire is right there behind Buena Vista and Buena Vista is not far behind Workforce. Red Desire was not up to par in the Flower Bowl. Moreover, she had some trouble in the race. Subsequent events have made her best form look even better, and her best form is much superior to that of Ave or Changing Skies.) AS