10/26/2011 3:27PM

Breeders' Cup: Midday likely to take on the boys in Turf this year

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Midday will run in her third Breeders' Cup this year but is likely to change races and face males in the Turf.

Midday won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2009 and finished second by a neck as the odds-on favorite in the race last fall. But a third Filly and Mare Turf probably is not in the cards for Midday. Her connections are aiming higher – and farther – in 2011, with Midday more likely for the $3 million Turf than the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf.

Midday was pre-entered Monday in both Breeders’ Cup races, but the Turf was listed as her first preference, and Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Juddmonte Farms, confirmed Wednesday that Midday probably would race in the Turf. Grimthorpe, who said plans still had to be firmed up with trainer Henry Cecil, cited the Turf’s longer distance – 1 1/2 miles compared to 1 3/8 miles in the Filly and Mare Turf – as the primary motivating factor for the switch.

“Last year I think, it’s a sort of tighter track for her, and we know she stays a mile and a half anyway, and we thought maybe we’d give her a try,” Grimthorpe said. “Last year she didn’t really get the run of the race. She got bumped around a little bit, and it didn’t go as smoothly as it might have.”

Midday will give Juddmonte two starters in whichever race she contests: Announce is slated for the Filly and Mare Turf and Sea Moon is a confirmed runner for the Turf.

Five-year-old Midday has turned in a typically excellent season. First or second in 16 of her 22 career starts, Midday has won twice and three times been second in six 2011 races, most recently finishing a troubled fourth facing top-level competition in the Group 1 Champion Stakes over 1 1/4 miles. Her major 2011 win came in the Group 1 Nassau, where she beat Snow Fairy by three lengths.

Eleven horses were pre-entered in the Turf – though Meeznah is likely to race in the Marathon – and the overseas contingent is a strong one this year. Sarafina, among the best mile-and-a-half horses in Europe, her seventh-place finish in the Arc notwithstanding. Sea Moon won the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes in August by a robust eight lengths, and was seriously compromised by traffic trouble when third in the Group 1 St. Leger Stakes in his most recent outing. His trainer, Michael Stoute, is a four-time Turf winner.

Aidan O’Brien has two Turf entrants, with Await the Dawn given second-preference in the Classic. Four-year-old Await the Dawn has won five of his seven starts and turned in a powerful performance earlier this year at Chester, a left-handed course with tight turns like Churchill’s. St. Nicholas Abbey handled Midday earlier in the year, and also likes racing left-handed.

A Turf win by an American horse seems unlikely: Brilliant Speed, Dean’s Kitten, Stately Victor, Teaks North, and Winchester all will be outsiders in the race.