On the heels of a Breeders' Cup when they had a huge day, the Europeans do not seem to hold as strong a hand this year.
The leaders of the contingent would appear to be Six Perfections, back to try and win the NetJets Mile (gr. IT) for the second straight year, Ouija Board in the VO5 Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), and Powerscourt in the John Deere Turf (gr. IT).
In the 2003 World Thoroughbred Championships at Santa Anita, in addition to Six Perfections, Islington won the Filly & Mare Turf, and High Chaparral dead-heated in the Turf with Johar.
"Realistically, we have to say this is not as strong a team this year," David Hood, head of public relations for William Hill in England, said Thursday morning outside the quarantine barn at Lone Star Park.
William Hill has two Europeans favored in their respective races, with Ouija Board, at 7-4, the heaviest choice. They list Six Perfections at 9-2 in the Mile.
In the other races, William Hill has Kitten's Joy at 4-5 in the Turf, Pleasantly Perfect 2-1 in the Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), Speightstown 7-2 in the Sprint (gr. I), Society Selection 7-2 in the Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I), Roman Ruler 15-8 in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile, and Sweet Catomine 11-4 in the Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
William Hill does think the Europeans have a chance to win a race because they have the odds for no European winners at 6-4 and for one winner even money.
"There are some concerns," Hood said. "This may not be the ideal race for Ouija Board and she likes firmer turf, and Six Perfections came into the race with top form last year. Islington was everyone's banker (big chance to cash a ticket) last year and it may be Powerscourt this year.
"Powerscourt should not be overlooked. He's the one that could shake them up. His run in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) was top class and he ran very gamely in the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I). He knows how to quicken which will be important in this race."
The Europeans have not been denied a winner on Breeders' Cup day since 1998 at Churchill Downs. That year, Swain looked like a winner in the Classic when he bore out in the race won by Awesome Again.