Much has been written about the depth of talent displayed by this year's crop of 3-year-olds, but mostly as it pertains to the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) entrants Street Sense, Curlin, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, and Tiago. The sophomore bench for the World Championships, however, is even deeper.
The first two choices in the morning line in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint are 3-year-olds, as is the second choice in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), and favorite in the Mile (gr. IT). In the Classic, five of the nine starters are 3-year-olds and though 4-year-old Lawyer Ron is the 2-1 favorite, the sophomore class shapes up well with Curlin (3-1), Street Sense (3-1), Any Given Saturday (4-1), Hard Spun (8-1), and Tiago (12-1).
"You do find out where you stand when you meet older horses, but I think this group stacks up pretty good," Larry Jones, who trains Hard Spun, said. "Tiago just beat older horses in California (in the grade I Goodwood), Lawyer Ron is the best older horse, and Curlin beat him (in the grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup)."
Also, Jones’ Hard Spun beat a field that included older horses in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II)
"I would love 20 years from now to hear people say, ‘That was the best crop of 3-year-olds since 1954,’" Jones said.
That group, as Jones pointed out, contained Bold Ruler, Round Table, Gallant Man, and Iron Liege.
"You always need to test them against older horses," said Carl Nafzger, who sent out Unbridled to take the 1990 Classic and this year has Street Sense in the race.
"This group (of 3-year-olds) has been good since last year; they have great depth," Nafzger continued. "The thing I like is that they have beaten each other but no one is getting buried. They are a competitive group."
Besides the Classic starters, there are 17 other 3-year-olds entered to run Oct. 26 and 27 in Breeders’ Cup races:
Filly and Mare Sprint – Dream Rush (2-1), La Traviata (5-2)
Dirt Mile – Xchanger (6-1), Forefathers (20-1)
Filly & Mare Turf – All My Loving (15-1), Passage of Time (7-2), Simply Perfect (15-1), Timarwa (20-1)
Sprint – Idiot Proof (10-1)
Mile – Excellent Art (3-1), Nobiz Like Shobiz (8-1)
Distaff – Bear Now (15-1), Lady Joanne (6-1), Lear’s Princess (6-1), Octave (10-1), Tough Tiz’s Sis (20-1)
Turf – Shamdinan (20-1)