As we've talked about before in other blogs, there seems to be a larger than usual number of Breeders' Cup divisions with no true standout. Yes, we are only in July, but it's still a bit unusual to be searching for the top horse in several classes.
One of the unsettled divisions is the turf males, which was dominated by Gio Ponti last year. After missing in his first three starts of 2010, Gio finally broke through last weekend in the Man o' War, getting up late to win despite chasing a ridiculously slow pace. It was a tremendous effort considering the circumstances.
But will Gio be the top U.S.-based turf horse when the Breeders' Cup rolls around? The 5-year-old may answer that question in next month's Arlington Million. Until then, let's take a look at some of the other top contenders:
Acclamation: A two-time graded winner on the Hollywood turf this year. Faltered badly in United Nations last out in first start away from California.
Bourbon Bay: The California-based gelding is built for long distances. Has really come into his own recently, winning four straight at Santa Anita.
Chinchon: Won the United Nations impressively in only second U.S. start. A two-time group III winner in France, he might be a major player when all is said and done.
Compari: Set the pace and tired on Cushion Track in the Hollywood Gold Cup, but is stronger on turf, where he has won three times this season. Might be better suited for the BC Mile.
Courageous Cat: Two-time graded winner on grass has not started since coming back from Dubai.
Fluke: Started getting good at the end of 2009 when he won the grade Citation Handicap. Runner-up in both starts this year. Also might be better suited for the Mile.
General Quarters: Won the grade I Turf Classic in only second start on grass and returns to the lawn this weekend in Arlington Handicap. If he wins that, he might be on his way to the top of the division.
Karelian: Beat Gio Ponti earlier in the year and returned to take grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland before narrowly missing in Shoemaker Mile. Another BC Mile candidate.
Paddy O'Prado: A win in the Virginia Derby this weekend makes him the clear-cut leader for 3-year-old turfers.
Take the Points: Having an unlucky year. DQ'd from grade I at Gulfstream, ran a good race in an off-the-board finish in Manhattan, and was runner-up to Chinchon after taking the lead late in United Nations. He will get back to winning soon and the thought is he'll be a major contender by year's end.
Tizdejavu: Has won three straight, including Firecracker. Versatile horse has won at four different distances at one mile or more.
Winchester: Also defeated Gio in a major upset. Came back to run a solid third in United Nations. Has been very consistent over the last 12 months.
Who do you guys like? Am I missing anyone?