10/27/2010 1:15PM

Turf coming down to two Arc runners


Eight are likely to go in a Breeders’ Cup Turf that looks very much like a rematch between Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce and Arc fourth Behkabad. In terms of class and the ability to stay 1 1/2 miles, there is nothing else that appears capable of winning the race, on paper at least.

Workforce at his best could be approaching Sea the Stars quality. And we have probably not seen the best of him yet as he has run only five times. If he improves as expected off his narrow Arc triumph over Nakayama Festa, he will whistle. Keep in mind that he is trained by Michael Stoute, the winner of the last two Turfs with Conduit. Workforce acts on any kind of ground, so rain or shine, it should be all systems go for the 3-year-old son of King’s Best.

There is still a lingering question concerning Workforce’s consistency. Even Stoute cannot figure out why he failed to fire in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. But any horse that can set a course record while winning the Epsom Derby by seven lengths must be given every consideration.

Except that no Arc winner has ever won the Turf. Five have tried and five have failed. On the other hand, seven Arc losers have won the Turf, a statistic that bodes well for Behkabad. And while no statistic has ever won a Breeders’ Cup race – or any other kind of race – Behkabad looks very, very dangerous. A Cape Cross-Kris cross, he is made for 12 furlongs and has the tracking speed to pounce late.

Shall we shoot holes in the others? Arlington Million winner Debussy doesn’t stay 12 furlongs. The ex-Peruvian Al Khali couldn’t beat the European second stringers in the Canadian International. Champ Pegasus is taking a major step up in class, as is Telling. Winchester is a possibility off his Turf Classic score, but there must be doubts about his ability to stay in this kind of company. Dangerous Midge, who beat subsequent 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey-Club winner Rainbow Peak in the Arc Trial, is improving but is still outclassed by the first two.