Multiple Group 1 winner Ulysses and defending champion Highland Reel rate as major contenders in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). European-based runners have captured seven of the last nine runnings of the 1 ½-mile affair and the aforementioned duo are part of a deep six-horse international contingent in the 14-horse field.
Highland Reel led wire-to-wire for six-time Turf winner Aidan O’Brien and you can throw out any dismal showings overseas on soft ground; the 5-year-old horse prefers good-to-firm turf. Ryan Moore, who earned his fourth Turf victory when guiding the Coolmore colorbearer last year, will be back aboard the front-runner, who is listed at 5-1.
Ulysees is the 7-2 morning line favorite for four-time Turf winner Sir Michael Stoute. A 4-year-old son of leading European sire Galileo, the chestnut posted a rallying fourth in last year’s edition and checked in third behind Highland Reel in the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot in his second start back this season. Ulysees has really come on over the past four months, posting Group 1 wins in the Eclipse and Juddmonte International, and finally finished ahead of Highland Reel when second to superstar filly Enable in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) three back. He exits a good third to the same rival in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and will head postward with Frankie Dettori.
Arlington Million (G1) and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) winner Beach Patrol heads the American team. The 4-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid figures to be forwardly-placed from post 12 with Joel Rosario and is one of two for trainer Chad Brown, who will also send out Arlington Million and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic runner-up Fanciful Angel.
Oscar Performance will bring good speed from the outside post. Winner of last year’s Juvenile Turf (G1), the Brian Lynch trainee captured the Belmont Derby (G1) and Secretariat (G1) this summer and finished third making his first start against elders in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Regular rider Jose Ortiz will be up.
Fourth in the 2016 Filly & Mare Turf (G1), Seventh Heaven wasn’t going to cut back to nine furlongs for this year’s edition and has been redirected to the Turf by O’Brien. Winner of an English Group 2 three back, the 4-year-old filly must rebound from a 14th in the Arc. Bullards Alley will face a class check following a surprising romp in the October 15 Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine, snapping a 15-race losing skein with the 10-length decision, and Javier Castellano takes over the mount.
Sword Dancer (G1) winner Sadler’s Joy is also part of the mix after finishing fourth as the favorite in Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Talismanic, a Group 2-winning colt in France for Andre Fabre, and Irish Champion (G1) upsetter Decorated Knight are also part of the equation.