One goal of expanding the turf races in the Breeders' Cup World Championships was to entice more participation from overseas, where grass racing dominates.
The strategy appears to be paying off as judged by Coolmore Stud's leading sire Galileo setting a new single-season sire record this year with nine Breeders' Cup starters.
The 18-year-old son of Sadler's Wells—Urban Sea, by Miswaki, passed the previous high mark of seven starters in a given year co-owned by Mr. Prospector and Gainesway's Tapit.
Galileo's progeny entered in the world championships Nov. 4-5 at Santa Anita are: Highland Reel, Ulysses, Mondaliste, and Found, all running in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT); Alice Springs and Photo Call, who start in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT); Pretty Perfect and Seventh Heaven, starters in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT); and Hydrangea in Friday's Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT).
He got off to a slow start Friday, with Hydrangea finishing off the board. As judged by the morning line, Galileo's runners have their best chances in the Turf, where Highland Reel and Found are both 3-1. All of Galileo's previous Breeders' Cup winners had success in the Turf: Found in 2015, Magician in 2013, and Red Rocks in 2006.
Galileo is one of 15 stallions who have had three or more Breeders' Cup winners, with the honors for the most winners a three-way tie between Sadler's Wells, Kris S., and Overbrook Farm's star sire Storm Cat (five each). By number of wins, Sadler's Wells leads all other sires with six.
For its first 15 years the Breeders' Cup offered only two grass races: the Turf and the Mile. The Filly & Mare Turf was added to the card in 1999. Another turf expansion occurred with the 2007 edition with addition of the one-mile Juvenile Turf. The following year, two more grass races were introduced with the Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Turf Sprint.
The influence of turf and European connections does not end there, even among North American-based sires.
Claiborne Farm's War Front has the second-highest number of Breeders' Cup starters this year with seven. They are Lull and Roly Poly in the Juvenile Fillies Turf; Intelligence Cross and Lancaster Bomber in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT); Avenge in the Filly & Mare Turf; and Hit It a Bomb in the Mile. The son of Danzig has one starter on the dirt—With Honors in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).
While all of War Front's runners have been bred in Kentucky, four raced in England and/or Ireland earlier in the year. Intelligence Cross, Lancaster Bomber, and Roly Poly are all owned by Coolmore associates Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor. All three are also trained by Aidan O'Brien, who also trains Evie Stockwell's homebred Hit It a Bomb, who raced previously this year in Europe.
Lancaster Bomber delivered the best performance on Friday, finishing second to Oscar Performance in the Juvenile Turf.
The other sire leaders by starters this year are Tapit and Hill 'n' Dale Farms' Curlin , who each have five entered in Breeders' Cup races.