10/23/2008 11:00PM

Saturday Breeders' Cup race analysis

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Analysis of Saturday's Breeders' Cup races by DRF handicappers Byron King, Dave Litfin, Mike Watchmaker, and Mike Welsch.

MARATHON

Byron King

With very few American horses bred to race 1 1/2 miles, this race looks tailor-made for a European, a horse like SIXTIES ICON. A proven stayer, he won the Group 1 St. Leger earlier in his career and has maintained his sharp form in 2008, winning three straight heading into the BC Marathon. Having raced exclusively on turf, he is an unknown on a synthetic surface, but if he takes to the Pro-Ride surface, he should outclass these. CEDAR MOUNTAIN, like Sixties Icon, is by Galileo, a son of Sadler's Wells, and is similarly bred to run long. He has not raced since finishing second in the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap in July, but returns for a successful Breeders' Cup trainer in Neil Drysdale. Cedar Mountain has raced over a synthetic track, winning over Polytrack when racing overseas last year. The late-running DELIGHTFUL KISS is 2 for 2 on synthetic tracks, having won the Turfway Park Fall Championship and the All American at Golden Gate.

Dave Litfin

The late-blooming CEDAR MOUNTAIN has the look of a true stayer: he won his maiden second out as a 4-year-old on Polytrack in England, and recorded his best Beyer Figure going farther than this across town; freshened since showing big improvement in four turf races during the spring and summer, may relish Pro-Ride. DELIGHTFUL KISS wasn't doing much on dirt earlier this year, but resurrected his career winning back-to-back Grade 3's on all-weather tracks in September; deep closer showed surprising speed in recent drill at Golden Gate. ZAPPA started '08 with a pace-pressing score over Well Armed at 1 1/16 miles, and was a front-end winner at 12 furlongs at Del Mar, so he might be the one to catch in the absence of Fairbanks, though Booyah has shown improved early speed of late.

Mike Watchmaker

ZAPPA takes a massive class drop after competing in Grade 1 stakes in his last two outings. He ran well in the Pacific Classic two starts back when he was fourth after some traffic trouble, and romped at this distance three starts back in the Cougar 2nd Handicap. With little speed in this event, he'll be prominent from the outset. SIXTIES ICON won three straight Group 3 wins in England, two at this distance and one going slightly longer. He has raced only on turf, however, and he will offer no betting value. DELIGHTFUL KISS scored over softer in his last two, one at this distance, and has the back Beyer Speed Figures to be competitive. Cedar Mountain was in career form before going on a three month vacation, which usually is not a good sign. Still, he has run well fresh in the past, and handled synthetic surfaces well early in his career in England.

Mike Welsch

ZAPPA has the home court and possibly the pace advantage as well over Euro-invader and multiple Group 3 winner SIXTIES ICON. Zappa returns to more suitable company after holding his own against Grade 1 types in both the Goodwood and Pacific Classic, owns wins over the course and at the distance, and figures forwardly placed if not on the lead outright in a field distinctly lacking any early foot with the defection of Fairbanks. Sixties Icon brings some formidable looking credentials, with his lone defeat in five starts since May coming against some of the best in England in the Group 1 Prince of Wales. He is a proven stayer but one who does have problems now and then at the break and whose success has come strictly over grass. MUHANNAK is lightly raced this season and coming off a pair of victories over artificial surfaces. He can handle the route.

TURF SPRINT

Byron King

MR. NIGHTLINGER is perfect in five starts in turf sprints, dominating the opposition with his blazing early speed. He consistently posts Beyer Speed Figures of 100 or higher, and coming into this race fresh by design, he seems poised for yet another top performance. FLEETING SPIRIT, a 3-year-old filly coming from Europe, has proven that she can compete against the boys, winning a Group 2 in Britain earlier this year. She breaks awkwardly at times, however, something she can not afford to do here against this quick group. She receives Lasix for the first time. CALIFORNIA FLAG, like the top choice, has blossomed in turf sprints this year, capped by victory in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap over this course Sept. 24. He could be overlooked in the betting, with Mr. Nightlinger and the European invaders drawing much of the public's support.

Dave Litfin

The horse-for-course concept is sometimes overrated, but not when it comes to this idiosyncratic layout, where the edge goes to horses with positive prior experience. GET FUNKY notched both '07 wins over this course (lifetime top Beyer in an allowance, and Morvich seven months later), and went well for second in the Morvich against last out chasing CALIFORNIA FLAG. California Flag, a full brother to an eight-time Santa Anita turf sprint winner, rocketed to a course record in the Morvich at a big price; must avoid a bounce off 10-point move to a new top figure, while dealing with pace pressure from Mr. Nightliner. FLEETING SPIRIT has beaten the boys in three group stakes overseas, and was a very respectable fifth in the 20-horse Prix de l'Abbaye in her return from a layoff.

Mike Watchmaker

DIABOLOCAL ran his best race in months last time out when he was a narrowly beaten second in a Group 2 event at Ascot. He has the right kind of stalking style in a race loaded with early speed, and he should welcome the transition back to American racing as he was a high-class sprinter here just last year. MR. NIGHTLINGER is not only undefeated in turf sprints - he is 5 for 5 under such conditions in his last five starts - he has never even been headed in one. He is the speed of the speed, but he must go a furlong farther than his longest turf sprint win. TRUE TO TRADITION's stakes wins in his last two starts were the best races of his career, and he also has the ability to stalk. Get Funky was the beaten favorite in the Morvich, the local prep for this, but his late kick gets a better set up this time.

Mike Welsch

On paper, this one looks like it has to set up for one of the closers. GET FUNKY figures to get first run over the tiring leaders coming from his outside post off a sharp six-furlong drill. Familiarity and fondness for the downhill course gives him an added edge over most of these. STORM TREASURE could be a sleeper if the race sets up as expected. He should be coming on strong at the end, with a little racing luck. CALIFORNIA FLAG easily decisioned Get Funky in their previous encounter over this course, but he was loose on an easy lead that afternoon. He is not likely to have that luxury, with Mr. Nightlinger and Idiot Proof in this lineup, but he must still be respected considering his fondness for the unusual course.

DIRT MILE

Byron King

LEWIS MICHAEL is a synthetic track specialist, having 3 wins and 2 seconds in 7 starts on such tracks. Even his one off-the-board finish on a synthetic track was a quality effort - a fourth at Santa Anita in the Grade 1 Goodwood last fall. The mile distance suits him, and he is drawn favorably on the rail with a short run to the first turn. WELL ARMED won the Goodwood over this track Sept. 27, which followed a close loss to Go Between in the Pacific Classic. A versatile gelding, he can win on the lead or from just off the pace. He looms a major player but will offer little betting value. MY PAL CHARLIE won the Grade 2 Super Derby with an explosive inside surge leaving the final turn. He has never raced on a synthetic track but is a son of Indian Charlie, whose offspring have good numbers on all-weather surfaces.

Dave Litfin

The third time may be the charm for LEWIS MICHAEL, who had trouble in the '06 Sprint and was swallowed in a sea of slop in the '07 Dirt Mile; ever since a placing to Midnight Lute in the Perryville at 3, he has put up triple-digit Beyers in six consecutive starts on synthetic tracks (including lifetime top fig off seven-week break), capped by track-record Pat O'Brien that marked the second time he shipped to SoCal and ran well. WELL ARMED would probably be in the Classic except that he's a gelding, and the value of WinStar Farm's Colonel John skyrockets should that one win the day's centerpiece; pace-presser is drawn treacherously outside Mast Track and Two Step Salsa. SURF CAT hasn't been as brilliant on synthetic as he was on dirt, but the distance seems ideal and he is well drawn.

Mike Watchmaker

WELL ARMED is a very likely winner here as the solid favorite. His last three races were terrific, but what was really impressive about his near-miss in the Pacific Classic two starts back and his win in the Goodwood most recently was his newfound ability to rate off the early lead effectively. He could go that way here if he wants, but he also has the speed to control this race from the start. ALBERTUS MAXIMUS was a very good third in the Goodwood, and is much improved since switching barns over the summer. SURF CAT had no excuse when he was fourth in the Goodwood and sixth in the Pacific Classic. He was, however, a good second to Well Armed in the San Diego Handicap three starts back, and will like the cut back in distance. Lewis Michael reaffirmed his affinity for synthetic tracks winning the Pat O'Brien last time out, but faces better company now.

Mike Welsch

Both WELL ARMED and ALBERTUS MAXIMUS have been training superbly for their rematch in the Dirt Mile. Well Armed is even better now, since he's learned to rate his ample speed. He is likely to trip out in a similar manner as he did winning the Goodwood. Albertus Maximus was hung wide and could not get to the winner in the Goodwood, but he is obviously on top of his game at this juncture and eligible to spring the upset should the preferred one make any mistakes. LEWIS MICHAEL has proven to be a tiger over synthetic surfaces and is cycling back to his peak form at the present time. He should race well placed throughout from an advantageous inside post.

MILE

Byron King

Defending champ KIP DEVILLE did not run to expectations in finishing fifth in the Woodbine Mile, a rare poor effort from this honest, classy miler. Although he handled wet courses previously, he may not have cared for the yielding conditions at Woodbine that day - every course is different when it is wet. He is 2 for 2 on the Santa Anita grass, winning the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort in December 2006 and Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile in March of 2007. Both wins came on firm ground, something he will catch Saturday. GOLDIKOVA has won three in a row overseas, including the prestigious Prix du Moulin in a banner field. She looms the likely favorite. SHAKIS, a fast-closing second in the Shadwell Mile, is well drawn on the inside. This will better allow him to stay in touch with the leaders, and he is not a horse intimidated by inside trips.

Dave Litfin

Despite being fractious at the gate and stumbling at the start, GOLDIKOVA finished a clear second to unbeaten Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava in her first Group 1 attempt, and among those behind her was three-time Group 1 winner Halfway to Heaven; Racing Post Ratings have consistently improved since then, climaxed by a win over males, and she maintains her once-a-month schedule of racing. Defending Mile winner KIP DEVILLE is hard to gauge, after connections theorized he didn't like the course conditions in the Woodbine Mile at 1-2, even though he ran well in that race last year and has won on all types of ground; 2 for 2 on Santa Anita's pool table at 7-1 and 9-1. SHAKIS is a stone-cold closer who may find this a bit short, and will need lots of racing luck, but he relishes very firm footing and got no pace to run at last out.

Mike Watchmaker

GOLDIKOVA might be a 3-year-old filly facing older males, but that is a nonissue. She faced that hurdle last time out in the Prix du Moulin, and all she did was make it her second straight Group 1 victory, and third straight group stakes score. Being a 3-year-old filly against older males didn't stop Zarkava in the Arc de Triomphe, and it is worth noting that Goldikova was an excellent second to that brilliant performer in this year's French 1000 Guineas. WHATSTHESCRIPT ran his best race ever winning the Del Mar Mile most recently with a furious late kick that saw him get his last quarter mile in close to 22 seconds. He is vastly improved since changing barns. PRECIOUS KITTEN can return to a much more effective stalking style, and has Beyer Figures competitive North America's best males. Kip Deville won this last year, but his fifth last out in the Woodbine Mile was alarmingly dull.

Mike Welsch

Defendinig champ KIP DEVILLE will be excused for his disappointing effort in the Woodbine Mile when failing to kick late over yielding ground. He has trained superbly since returning to New York, and at his best is good enough to defend the title he won last year at Monmouth Park. GOLDIKOVA is one of the best grass fillies in the world, and 2 of 3 three career defeats came at the hands of Zarakava, who is unquestionably the world's best. She beat the boys, including Classic contenders Henrythenavigator, at Longchamp. The lone caveat is whether she'll adapt well enough to the rock-hard local course. Another filly, PRECIOUS KITTEN, also could give the boys fits if she is able to duplicate the type of performances that have already made her a three-time Grade 1 winner against her own kind. She should sit a nice stalking trick behind the speed of Daytona and Thorn Song.

JUVENILE

Byron King

TERRAIN is the value play of the Juvenile, being well positioned in post 3 and having twice performed well in two races over synthetic tracks. After experiencing a much-troubled trip in the Arlington Washington Futurity, a race he won via a double disqualification, he rallied last time out through traffic to grab second in Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity. MIDSHIPMAN won his first two starts, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, before running second here in the Grade 1 Norfolk in his first start around two turns. Stuck in post 11, he did not draw as well as others in this large field. SQUARE EDDIE won for fun in the Breeders' Futurity, easily beating Terrain. He could bounce off that career-best performance, which came in his first start in this country.

Dave Litfin

SQUARE EDDIE nearly pulled off an upset sprinting on Polytrack in England, and four weeks later was a stylish winner of the Breeders' Futurity when stretched out in his U.S. debut and put on Lasix; call in wide-open race. TERRAIN won the Mountaineer Juvenile with a big figure, and then encountered trouble in two routes over Polytrack from outside posts, the latest a clear second behind the choice; got a better post this time, and may only need some racing luck to factor at a price. STREET HERO turned the tables on Midshipman in the Norfolk when equipped with blinkers for the first time; those two have the benefit of a race over the Pro-Ride.

Mike Watchmaker

Even if his winning Beyer Figure was a rather average 87, SQUARE EDDIE certainly looked good winning the Breeder's Futurity in his first U.S. start, seizing complete control of that race with a fast move into the stretch. That was also his first start with Lasix, and his first attempt beyond a sprint distance, all of which suggests he has plenty of room for more improvement. And Square Eddie wouldn't have to improve much to win what is not the strongest Juvenile ever. BUSHRANGER is the "stranger" in a race suited for one. Having won Group 1 sprints in his last two starts, he brings over much stronger Euro lines than Square Eddie did. MUNNINGS chased the East's top 2-year-old, Vineyard Haven, in his last two, and might find this easier. Blinkers on helped put Street Hero over the top in the Norfolk, but the strength of that race is in question.

Mike Welsch

This is one of the more wide-open races on the card. MUNNINGS looks like the controlling speed if he is able to overcome some of his bad gate habits and leave with the field. He looked sharp working over the Poly-Ride last weekend. He may stand some catching if allowed to relax long enough in front. MIDSHIPMAN turned in a huge effort in defeat in the Norfolk when hung wide throughout in his two-turn bow. He couldn't be training any better over his home course but must overcome a tough outside draw. SILENT VALOR held his own working in company with stablemate Munnings here this week and has the advantage of having a race over this course. He made a run from outside, but flattened out late in the Norfolk. He should improve with one under his belt.

JUVENILE TURF

Byron King

European shipper WESTPHALIA, first or second in 5 of his 6 starts, is well drawn in post 3, in contrast to some of the better North American horses, who are stuck on the outside with a short run to the first turn. Westphalia showed his class in winning the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Sept. 13 and should outclass these 2-year-old grass runners. RELATIVELY READY was evenly paced in the finishing third the Grade 3 Pilgrim over yielding ground, but may fare better on firm turf. He overcame a troubled trip to win a maiden race at Saratoga this summer, hinting of a bright future. BITTEL ROAD seemed beaten in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland - with 10 horses to pass in the final quarter mile. But pass them he did, showing the turn of foot that defines a classy grass horse. He drew poorly (post 11), as did Grand Adventure (post 12) and Skipadate (post 10).

Dave Litfin

SKIPADATE has run several of these to photo finishes in three starts, while compiling a forward-moving line of Beyers, and should get plenty of pace, thanks to the presence of Coronet of a Baron, Ninth Client, and Orthodox; having three routes under his belt is a plus. GRAND ADVENTURE outgamed the top pick in the Summer Stakes despite rider losing the whip; must overcome a tough post. DONATIVUM handled good-to-firm ground beating 23 rivals in rich restricted stake at Newmarket; only been on straight courses up to now, so cornering ability will be a key. Bittel Road staged a miraculous rally to get up in the Bourbon; had inside posts in first two routes.

Mike Watchmaker

GRAND ADVENTURE showed plenty of raw ability when he cruised in his debut two starts back, and lots of courage winning the Summer Stakes most recently, prevailing despite going very wide into the stretch and having his rider lose his whip inside the final furlong. Moreover, Grand Adventure's winning Summer Beyer Figure of 94 is considerably higher than the winning Beyers in the other North American preps for this. WESTPHALIA earned a good Racing Post rating when he won a prestigious Group 2 stakes at Doncaster last time out, and is an obvious threat. DONATIVUM won a race at Newmarket most recently worth nearly $1.8 million. And while he did not earn a Racing Post rating anywhere near what Westphalia earned, any horse who beats 23 opponents as Donativum did in that race is okay with me. Bittel Road is undefeated, and logical, but the recent Bourbon Stakes really fell apart into his lap.

Mike Welsch

With the best of the U.S.- and Canadian-based juveniles hung out in tough posts and facing the prospect of wide trips, why not opt for European invader WESTPHALIA? He won a Group 2 dash in his most recent start and was good enough to finish within a couple lengths of Bushranger, who is now a multiple Group 1 winner and among the leading contenders in the Juvenile, earlier in the year. GRAND ADVENTURE is hard to fault off his first two starts, including a game win in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes when he overcame a seven-wide trip to outkick Skipadate. He would have been the top choice with any luck at the post position draw. BITTEL ROAD, like Grand Adventure, is undefeated but another who did not fare very well at the draw. Trips are the key to the chances of both colts.

SPRINT

Byron King

STREET BOSS won the Grade 1 Triple Bend and Bing Crosby Handicaps this summer, outrunning his foes with a powerful stretch kick. He finished second in the Ancient Title here Sept. 27, but he lost little in defeat, earning a career-best 109 Beyer. A hotly contested pace should play to his strength, his late punch. FATAL BULLET is 7 for 8 on synthetic tracks, with his one loss coming when he raced seven furlongs. He won the Kentucky Cup Sprint in late September, leading at every call and drawing away to 7 3/4-length score. He breaks from the outside in this six-furlong race, a tactical advantage with all the other speed to his inside. IN SUMMATION twice won graded stakes here earlier in the year when Santa Anita had the Cushion Track surface. He has not been as effective over Polytrack and Pro-Ride in recent starts, while still running competitively from off the pace against quality opposition.

Dave Litfin

COST OF FREEDOM was claimed from a win for $50,000, returned 12 days later with a 15-point jump to a 110 Beyer, and then reached that level again decisioning STREET BOSS in the Ancient Title off a seven-week freshening; has won from the rail, but doesn't require the early lead and must avoid getting caught up in a duel with Fabulous Strike. IN SUMMATION finished evenly for third in the Ancient Title, and has been competitive in graded stakes sprints on all of SoCal's synthetic tracks this season; can land somewhere in the money with something close to his effort in the Palos Verdes. Street Boss hasn't been worse than second in eight starts as a 4-year-old, while tackling steadily tougher opposition; prone to slow starts and wide trips, but was just a half-length off Cost of Freedom at odds-on after two months off.

Mike Watchmaker

COST OF FREEDOM paired up Beyer Figures of 110 winning both of his starts since the $50,000 claim three back, including the local prep for this, the Ancient Title. His determined decision over Street Boss in the Ancient Title, as convincing as it was, had an interesting side note: Street Boss is a potent stretch-runner, but Cost of Freedom is so good right now that he not only turned him back, he also strongly galloped out well clear of him past the wire. FABULOUS STRIKE showed a lot of heart just failing to last in the Vosburgh after disputing a fast pace in his first start in three months. He'll be a handful if that effort didn't take too much out of him. STREET BOSS won five straight before the Ancient Title, but he likes to rally wide, and he can't afford to concede a lot of ground at this level. In Summation, third in the Ancient Title, can get a piece.

Mike Welsch

MIDNIGHT LUTE is winless since the '07 Sprint but is training like gangbusters and looking like his old self at this time. He should get a nice pace setup to run at, with several speed types in this lineup. IN SUMMATION is slightly off his top game of late but still not much behind leading contenders STREET BOSS and Cost of Freedom, both of whom will go postward at much shorter prices on the tote board. He finished up nicely in a recent morning trial and is another with the running style to take advantage of a contentious pace. Street Boss was king of the local division until knocked off by Cost of Freedom in the Ancient Title. He is another who would benefit from a fast pace. I loved Fabulous Strike's performance in the Vosburgh, but he is still untested over the local surface and facing the prospect of getting pushed along early once again by Black Seventeen, First Defence, and perhaps even Cost of Freedom.

TURF

Byron King

SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, a Group 1 winner at ages 3 and 4, is wheeled back into the Turf after finishing in a dead heat for third in the Oct. 5 Arc de Triomphe. Despite exiting such a demanding race, look for him to maintain his sharp form. He has raced just three times this year, which should leave him with something left in the tank. CONDUIT has shown rapid development since June. Though he has run well on firm turf, he seems to prefer give in the ground. His Group 1 victory in the St. Leger came over soft going. WINCHESTER turned in a blockbuster performance in winning the Grade 1 Secretariat by 7 1/4 lengths. He posted a faster time in winning that 1 1/4-mile race in 2:01.76 than Spirit One did in winning the Arlington Million an hour later in 2:02.17. Given plenty of recovery time since the Aug. 9 Secretariat, the possibility of a bounce is lessened.

Dave Litfin

SOLDIER OF FORTUNE has won major races in England, Ireland and France on all types of ground, and may have been a race short of top condition when he dead-heated for third in the Arc de Triomphe off a 98-day layoff; classy and consistent colt from barn threatening the record for Grade 1 wins in a single year. CONDUIT has yet to earn a Racing Post Rating as good as Soldier of Fortune's typical effort, but has been improving with each and every start as the distances have lengthened on a wide variety of footing; lone entrant turning back from a longer race. EAGLE MOUNTAIN returned from an absence of nearly a year to win the Joel Stakes recently, making it three straight years he has won a group stakes in Europe; second in Epsom Derby (ahead of top pick) off the same distance switch in second start of '07.

Mike Watchmaker

WINCHESTER impressed when he won the Secretariat in his U. S. debut and first start with blinkers. Granted, he beat little in that race, but he drew off like a serious horse, he ran faster than older horses did a couple of races later in the Arlington Million, and it's not like the top contenders here are perfect. GRAND COUTURIER won the Turf Classic and the Sword Dancer in his last two on footing with considerable cut to it. He won't get that kind of going here, but he is very sharp right now. I would like RED ROCKS if physical issues hadn't forced him to miss a couple of starts, for he loves U.S. racing. He won this race in 2006 and the Man o' War in July, beating Curlin. Soldier of Fortune was competitive with Europe's best, but he'll be no price, and the barn was off the board in this last year with a better horse in Dylan Thomas.

Mike Welsch

At his best, SPRING HOUSE might be good enough to spring the upset if SOLIDER OF FORTUNE does not fire his best shot returning on short rest off a huge try in the Arc. Spring House has trained smartly since a disappointing run in the Hirsch and owns the home court edge over the majority of this field. He will take a long look at what figures to be an honest price. Soldier of Fortune is too good for this group if he is able to repeat either of his last pair, but he has been defeated each of the last three times he's competed with less than a month between starts. EAGLE MOUNTAIN is another dangerous European invader, although he is no match for Soldier of Fortune and the last time he tried this distance was during the summer of '07. He still merits respect off big comeback try at Newmarket.

CLASSIC

Byron King

GO BETWEEN has made over $1.6 million in six starts on synthetic tracks, finishing first or second every time. He excels when given time between races and when running 1 1/4 miles - making the Classic a perfect fit. He has trained swiftly at Churchill Downs since winning the Aug. 24 Pacific Classic, suggesting he is ready for a peak effort. Reigning Horse of The Year CURLIN has made more money than any other horse in North American racing history (over $10 million), but he is unraced on a synthetic track, a surface trainer Steve Asmussen calls "the great neutralizer." COLONEL JOHN narrowly won the Travers with a fortuitous head bob, earning a career-best Beyer of 106. A versatile colt, he has won three stakes on synthetic tracks, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Dave Litfin

CHAMPS ELYSEES made up an acre of ground to be third in the Big Cap in the only non-turf start of his career, and looks like he could be coming up to a big effort turning back from a pair of 12-furlong turf stakes; will probably have better early position wearing his new blinkers. GO BETWEEN ran the two fastest races of his life at Santa Anita last winter, beginning with the Sunshine Millions Classic off a similar layoff; victimized by lack of pace in Hollywood Gold Cup, gritty win over Well Armed in Pacific Classic. CURLIN comes off hard-fought wins over Past the Point and Wanderin Boy, neither of whom would have fully extended him last fall or in the Dubai World Cup; tough to take short price with Pro-Ride looming potentially huge X factor. Raven's Pass arrives in top form, and pedigree is not strictly turf by any means.

Mike Watchmaker

CURLIN might not have run his best races in hard-fought wins in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Woodward in his last two starts, but the 111 and 112 Beyer Figures he earned in those races, while pedestrian for him, are significantly better than what anyone else in this race routinely receives. He won't be far off what should be a deliberate pace and should prove best yet again. The lack of speed here hurts the stretch-running GO BETWEEN, but he is such a solid synthetic-track performer that it will still be difficult keeping him off the board. RAVEN'S PASS has never raced beyond a mile or on anything but turf. But his Group 1 victory last time out at Ascot was first rate, and he is currently in the peak of form. Duke of Marmalade boasts five Group 1 wins in Europe this year, but the fear is his loss in the Arc suggests his form is in decline.

Mike Welsch

Obviously, CURLIN is the one to beat, but his lone defeat dating back to September '07 came over a surface he'd never handled before and the switch to Pro-Ride adds just enough uncertainty not to settle for the inevitable short price. With that in mind, why not try artificial surface specialist GO BETWEEN, who has never finished worse than second in six tries over that type of going and obviously is more than capable of staying the distance. He couldn't have looked better training over the track here Wednesday. Curlin appears to be handling the new surface well since his arrival several weeks ago and undoubtedly is too talented for this field if again firing his best shot. STUDENT COUNCIL has chased Go Between home on several previous occasions but couldn't be coming up to this particular rematch looking any sharper than he's been here the past week.