Updated on 11/04/2010 9:53PM

Goldikova heads foreign lineup in Breeders' Cup

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World championship honors may be at stake at Churchill Downs on Saturday, but whether the horse acceding to that level is Zenyatta, Goldikova, or Workforce is difficult to say. After the dust clears at about 6:50 p.m. Eastern, they may all still be chasing Harbinger, whose 11-length cakewalk in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24 remains the best performance of the year.

There has been one significant change in the foreign Cup lineup in recent days. The Michael Stoute-trained Dux Scholar was withdrawn from the Juvenile Turf on veterinary advice. With Workforce still not certain to run in the Turf by Thursday, Stoute, who has won the last two Turfs with Conduit, could be left without a Cup runner.

Here is an analysis of foreign chances Saturday.

Juvenile Turf

On paper the Aidan O’Brien-trained Master of Hounds holds a decided edge after his third in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy. Out of Group 2 Debutante Stakes winner Silk and Scarlet, he is a half-brother to Eishin Apollon, who was second in Japan’s best juvenile contest last year, the one-mile Futurity Stakes. His sire, Kingmambo, was Group 1-placed at 2, so Master of Hounds is supposed to be a good 2-year-old.

But beware Mantoba. He has improved by leaps and bounds in each of his three starts, culminating in a sharp score in Newmarket’s one-mile Houghton Conditions Stakes. An allowance race with stakes race cachet, it is frequently used by future group race performers such as Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Red Rocks, who was second in it, and St. Leger winner Mastery, who was third.

Utley is a Smart Strike half-brother to European juvenile filly Champ Rainbow View. Eligible to improve off a fifth in the seven-furlong, Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, he will be making the third start of his career, and it will come against an easier field than the one he met in the Lagardere.

Note that all of O’Brien’s Cup horses will run with Lasix. Last year, only his Man of Iron ran with Lasix, and only Man of Iron was victorious. That experience seemed to teach Coolmore a lesson.

Juvenile

Biondetti is by the outstanding first-year sire Bernardini, who won the Preakness, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup on dirt. Biondetti also is a half-brother to the accomplished turf mare Delta Princess, the winner of the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap and the Grade 3 Locust Grove Handicap at Churchill Downs. Biondetti is undefeated in three starts, winning the one-mile Gran Criterium at Milan last time. Last year’s runner-up in that race, Vale of York, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for Godolphin, the owners of Biondetti, whose chances in this race are nonetheless not as good as those of Theyskens’ Theory in the Juvenile Fillies.

Mile

Three things can beat Goldikova in her attempt at a third straight Mile title: a wide draw, soft ground, and a troubled trip. She has drawn wide but will get her desired firm ground, and Olivier Peslier is smart enough to keep her out of significant trouble. With her natural speed and instant acceleration, she is the confident choice to get the job done.

Paco Boy has been a close second to her twice this year, but on each occasion Goldikova was holding him safely at the end. Note that Paco Boy will be ridden by Ryan Moore, who replaces Richard Hughes. Hughes has opted to remain in England, where he is engaged in a duel with Paul Hanagan for the British jockeys’ championship. Moore is no stranger to Paco Boy, having ridden him to three victories in four starts.

Delegator and Beethoven are Group 2 types. The accomplished if inconsistent Gio Ponti would prefer 10 furlongs.

Turf

Workforce at his best should win this, but will he be at his best on what will resemble a hard turf course? He set a course record for 1 1/2 miles in the Epsom Derby, which he won by seven lengths, and won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe off a 10-week layoff in just his fifth career start, but he prefers some give in the ground, if only just a little.

If he is discomfited by the going, that could open the door for Behkabad, who was fourth by four lengths in the Arc but would have been closer with a clean trip. Behkabad’s dam, Behkara, won a Group 2 going 1 7/8 miles, so he is sure to stay the 12 furlongs, and his rider, Christophe Lemaire, is as good as they come.

Dangerous Midge is improving, but his Arc Trial win leaves him with much ground to make up, even if the horse he defeated, Rainbow Peak, won the 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club next time out. Keep in mind that the best Italian Group 1’s are rarely better than low-end Group 2’s.

Debussy does not stay 12 furlongs, and all of the Americans are playing catch-up.

Classic

Espoir City is Japan’s best dirt horse since Kurofune, but he has never been beyond 1 1/8 miles. Expect him to be up near the pace and fade through the final furlong.