By Jackie Duke
French-based Sarafina appears the one to beat in the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Installed at 5-2, the multiple group-I winning daughter of Refuse To Bend heads a European-dominated field of nine in the 1 1/2-mile event. She breaks from post 2 under Christophe Lemaire in her first foray outside of France.
The other European favorites include the durable Midday, a 5-year-old Juddmonte Farm homebred who just got nipped in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), and Await the Dawn, most recently third to Midday’s second in the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) at York in August.
Of the four North American runners, Dean's Kitten looks most competitive, having lost to Cape Blanco by a nose in the Oct. 1 Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park. Injured during that race, Cape Blanco is headed to stud at Ashford Stud rather than the starting gate for the Turf.
Dean’s Kitten, a Ramsey Farm homebred trained by Mike Maker, brings a solid resume to Churchill, including a good third to Cape Blanco in the Arlington Million (gr. IT).
The other American contenders are Brilliant Speed, the 2011 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner and Belmont (gr. I) third-place finisher; Stately Victor, the 2010 Blue Grass winner who is winless this year; and Teaks North, a two-time grade I winner in 2011.
The Aga Khan’s Sarafina is a three-time group I winner who has never been unplaced in 10 starts except for her seventh as favorite in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). Unusual heat was blamed for her poor showing.
Before the Arc, she had won three straight races, including a neck victory in the June 26 Prix de Saint-Cloud (gr. I) over Cirrus des Aigles, the gelding who won the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
|Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) Nov 5 4:45 PM|
|1.||St Nicholas Abbey||Joseph P. O'Brien||Aidan P. O'Brien||9-2|
|2.||Sarafina||Christophe Lemaire||Alain De Royer-Dupre||5-2|
|3.||Dean's Kitten||Ramon Dominguez||Michael J. Maker||10-1|
|4.||Stately Victor||Mike Smith||Michael J. Maker||30-1|
|5.||Teaks North||Javier Castellano||Justin Sallusto||20-1|
|6.||Await the Dawn||Julien Leparoux||Aidan P. O'Brien||7-2|
|7.||Sea Moon||Ryan Moore||Sir Michael R. Stoute||4-1|
|8.||Brilliant Speed||John Velazquez||Thomas Albertrani||20-1|
|9.||Midday||Tom Queally||Sir Henry Cecil||4-1|