Updated on 09/17/2011 10:18PM

BC Turf: Powerscourt could be joined by fellow Europeans Bago and Motivator


Defending Breeders' Cup Turf titleholder Better Talk Now appears headed in the right direction after his victory in the Man o' War last Saturday, which like last year will be his final prep for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf on Oct. 29 at Belmont Park. Winner of the 1 3/8-mile United Nations, Better Talk Now can be forgiven for his dull fourth in the Arlington Million, as 1 1/4 miles in top-class company is just too short for him. The Turf will be run at 1 1/2 miles.

Kitten's Joy, last year's champion grass horse, remains a top contender for the Turf. He finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Better Talk Now in last year's Turf, but was two noses in front of him in the Million. Kitten's Joy, who will not go in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as planned, has run just three times this year and may have his final Breeders' Cup prep in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont on Oct. 1.

Shakespeare, a Bill Mott-trained son of 1987 Turf winner Theatrical, is one to keep an eye on. He set a turf course record for 1 1/8 miles in winning the Belmont Park Breeders' Cup on Sunday. Although he has never been farther than 1 1/8 miles, Shakespeare is loaded with class, lightly raced, and improving.

An understanding of the American/European Turf balance goes through the Irish raider Powerscourt. Although he was third behind Better Talk Now and Kitten's Joy in last year's Turf, he might have won but for an injudicious ride by Jamie Spencer. With Kieren Fallon aboard in the Arlington Million, Powerscourt displayed authority over his American rivals. He missed the Man o' War because he was "not quite right," according trainer Aidan O'Brien, and could go directly to the Turf.

All three of Powerscourt's best races have come in the U.S., yet no one would call him the best 1 1/2-mile horse in Europe. Whereas the connections of Arc favorites Hurricane Run and Shawanda have not mentioned the Turf as a possibility, Epsom Derby winner and Arc third choice Motivator is slated to go in the Turf before being retired to the Queen's Royal Studs in Sandringham, England.

Bago is only the fourth choice to defend his title in the Arc, which is run at Longchamp on Oct. 2, but he doesn't have to win to earn a ticket to Belmont. His owners, the Niarchos family, have had the Turf in mind for him since they passed on last year's Classic. By Nashwan, Bago needs a fast pace and might appreciate American racing as much as Powerscourt.

Scorpion, a half-length behind Hurricane Run in the Irish Derby, set a 1 1/2-mile Longchamp course record when winning the Grand Prix de Paris in July. Last Saturday, Scorpion overcame heavy ground to win the 1 13/16-mile St. Leger Stakes.

Fearing soft ground, owner Earle Mack has removed Juddmonte International winner Electrocutionist from consideration for the Arc in favor of the Canadian International on Oct. 23. But Electrocutionist would go in the Turf if it comes up soft at Woodbine. With the exception of Powerscourt, however, the major European players in the Turf won't be decided until after the Arc.

3-year-olds & up, 1 1/2 miles (turf). Purse: $2 million.

1ShakespeareW. Mott10-1
Light on experience, long on talent; loved his kick in Bel Breeders' Cup
2PowerscourtA. O'Brien5-1
Romped in Arl. Million; could have won this last year with a good ride
3Kitten's JoyD. Romans4-1
Only second best in the Arl. Million; is he as good as he was last year?
4OratorioA. O'Brien8-1
Nailed Motivator in Group 1's in his last two; trainer is loaded for this
5MotivatorM. Bell6-1
English Derby winner will appreciate stretching back out to 1 1/2 miles
6Hurricane RunA. Fabre6-1
Irish Derby winner is the likely favorite for Arc off his Prix Niel victory
7ScorpionA. O'Brien8-1
Close second in Irish Derby, and has since won two Group 1 events
8AzamourJ. Oxx8-1
Fifth behind Oratorio in Irish Champion; won two Group 1's before that
9Better Talk NowH. G. Motion10-1
Won the Man o' War and the U. N., but was outkicked in the Arl. Million
10ElectrocutionistV. Valiani12-1
Juddmonte Int'l winner is owned by a New Yorker, so he may come

The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.