The real grass racing gets under way in the Mile. This race is full of really classy horses (and mares), but the difference between this and other Santa Anita Breeders' Cup Miles is that it is eleven will line up, not fourteen. I think the best horse will win, but it might not be who everyone is expecting.
I have been watching U.S. Ranger for over a year, and know quite well that he was regarded as Coolmore's best guineas hope of 2007. He has been kept sprinting this year, but never in five furlong races. His race in the Darley July Cup (see: photo) was huge under 131 lbs, barely losing to Europe's best (and possibly most beautiful gray; you know I love them!) sprinter, Marchand d'Or. He has been kept at longer sprints, like last out in the seven furlong G1 Prix de la Foret, where he was only 2.5 lengths behind Natagora, who is possibly the best three year old filly in Europe. He carried 6 lbs more than her that day, and today, under equal weights to most of these horses, with Murtagh in the irons, I cannot see him being denied.
A lot can be said of his chief European rival here, Goldikova. She is riding a three-race win streak, including two group ones at this distance. She is trained by Miesque's jockey, Freddie Head, who obviously knows a little about good miler fillies. The one strike here is that she is ridden by Peslier, who often poorly times his American rides (see: Freedom Cry), and will have to deal with a left-hand turn for the first time. If she does well with that, she is the filly to watch.
The Americans will not be denied a say in the outcome today, though. We bring three really tough older horses. Kip Deville will be a tough defender of his crown, but it is well known that he only has an edge on softer turf. On harder ground, he is just as tough as anyone else. The horse to catch is the ultra-classy Daytona, who has won seven of his last nine races. He loves to set a quick pace and pick it up again, which is easily possible today at a distance that is 1/8-1/4 mile shorter than his optimum.
Lastly, Whatsthescript is possibly John Sadler's best chance at an upset today. He will be closing late, but should be outpaced by the aforementioned Europeans. I am hoping for U.S. Ranger to show how classy he is, if nothing else, for being from the last crop of possibly the best Breeders' Cup stallion of all time: Danzig. Not to mention being out of a Red Ransom half-sister to Dynaformer. This colt is Coolmore at a price; Take him. Put him on top of a hugely under bet classy colt, in Daytona, and you have my boxcar exacta of the day.
1. (7) U S Ranger 20-1
2. (5) Daytona 20-1
3. (4) Goldikova 8-5
4. (2) Kip Deville 7-2
5. (11) Whatsthescript 6-1